Otterly Delightful

Here is an otter, by Kenneth Steven

The otter is ninety percent water
Ten percent God.
This is a mastery
We have not fathomed in a million years.
I saw one once, off the teeth of western Scotland,
Playing games with the Atlantic –
Three feet of gymnastics
Taking on an ocean.

Here is an otter by Jackie Morris

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Bright the Hawk’s Flight on the Empty Sky

One of our brightest stars winked out last Monday.  Ms. LeGuin gave the above speech in 2014.  It was true then, it is even more true now.  She writes like she speaks, pithily and to the point, choosing her words wisely, and making every one count.

The made-up books she wrote were powerful and True.  (All the best made-up books are True.  That is what makes them the best.)  If you read her books and think about what she wrote and why she wrote it and how it relates to the human condition,  — and if you will let her — she will crowbar open the windows of your mind, throw ope the shutters, and let in the fresh air and sunlight.

From all I read and hear from those who knew her, Ursula LeGuin was a light-bringer, an illuminator.  It is a trait well worth emulating.  No matter whatever else you might be or do, also be a light-bringer. Bring light to all those whose lives you touch; share your light, pass it along, let others light their candle from yours and shine forth, adding their own light to the world.

When one candle gutters and goes out, it behooves us other candles to burn that much brighter and to share our light with still others, so that the light is not diminished, but increased.

Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929-2018

Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying life:
Bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.

– The Creation of Ea

Crimmers Eve

My friend LB made a bunch of knitted snowmen, and she gave me this one when I went to see her Thursday.  She used yarn that has a thread of iridescence in it that gives it just the perfect little sparkle like snow (like the iridescent glitter I used on my snowflakes) — which doesn’t photograph at all well . . . .

The little snowman got me to thinking again about how a simple object of little intrinsic worth becomes an object of great value because of its history and how one came to acquire it.  Its worth lies in its ability to evoke memories, of the time, the place and the giver.  .  .  .  It becomes a “souvenir” in the literal sense of the word, which is French for “remember.”

Sans segue,  I remembered I had this little bamboo silverware tray  (it’s too narrow for the silverware drawer in this house), and I had a brainwave — I put it on the little table I have by my computer to organize my knitting needles.  It works a treat.  I had a hard time getting to my double pointed needles before, but not now.  They all go in that front bit quite nicely, as does my needle gauge.  Win.

Here I make all these hats for other people, but I hadn’t made any for myself.  Last year, I had made a ribbed cowl to fit up around my neck, which I fold in half and which fits like a turtle neck sweater without the sweater.   I used it when I had to go out Friday, and it is tall enough that it will cover my mouth and ears no problem.  I made it so long because you can also unfold it and bring one end of it up over your head.  It fits my needs very well.  I thought a toboggan to go with it out of the same Caron Simply Soft yarn would be just the thing, so on this chilly (41 F/ 5C) Crimmers Eve, I’m making one.

Late in my salad days (1986), when I first started doing medical transcription, we worked at the hospital in a little room off the medical records department.  The lady I worked for, and who taught me transcription, used to get tickled at me for refering to “Christmas” as “Crimmers.”  I was more draw-y and cartoon-y then than I am now, and I drew her this little thing below one Crimmers.  (I didn’t know until about 20 years later that she had not only kept it all these years, but had had it very nicely framed.)  The sentiment still holds up well, I think, even now in these dark days. . .

Firefox Quantum is a Quantum of Schmaltz

— In the literal sense of the word “schmaltz,” meaning “chicken fat.”  I got really tired really quickly of piddling with Feedbro and RSSOwl, neither of which was as easy to use as NewsFox (which Firefox “Quantum” broke).  Finally, I just said (among other unrepeatable scatalogical and blasphemous utterances) the heck with it and rolled back Firefox to version 56.02.

I also left a comment on Mozilla’s Facebook page to the effect that I was really pissed off that they broke NewsFox while they were putzing around trying to soup up FireFox and that I was not going to upgrade to Quantum until they fixed it so that it would work with NewsFox.

I just now reinstalled Firefox version 56.02, which is the version before they broke it and have it set to ask me before it updates.   That means I can go back to NewsFox, which is the most useful and efficient feed reader I’ve been able to find.

Call me weird, but updates are supposed to make software better, and I cannot see how changing Firefox  so that the best feed reader out there no longer works  with it, makes it better.

I probably follow about 50 different blogs, 15 Tumblr sites, and about 30 different webcomics, and NewsFox organizes, tracks and updates them very efficiently.  When I open the update, it displays the actual webpage, not just the content, which means I can easily sign into those blogs that require it for commenting.  There were several blogs that neither RSSOwl, nor Feedbro would display in any form that would allow me to sign in so there was no way I could comment.   Also some of the blogs and Tumblr sites are artists’ sites and neither RSSOwl nor Feedbro would display their artwork or the webcomics except as thumbnails you had to click on to go to the website to view — which in Feedbro’s case meant opening another browser tab.  Neither RSSOwl nor Feedbro can hold a candle to the overall performance and user friendliness of NewsFox for viewing textual content, artwork, and photography easily without making you jump through a bunch of hoops to do it.

I don’t have the time or patience for that.  I’ll stick with NewsFox and the old Firefox version 56.02 until Firefox comes up with something that works with NewsFox, or until someone comes up with a better product than either RSSOwl or Feedbro, thank you very much.

The Lost Words

The Lost Words is a very special collaboration between writer Robert MacFarlane and artist Jackie Morris full of magical “word spells” and ravishing artwork that evoke animals and plants of the English countryside. This is a wonderful book for children of all ages.  Luscious language, exquisite artwork, a magical experience for both eye and ear. Written to be read aloud, drawn to be poured over, printed in large format.  You deserve to have this book, and so do the children in your life.

The below was done as a promotional giveaway, but it’s made from the same recipe as the feast of words and illustrations to be found in this wonderful book.

Please buy this book from a local independent bookseller if at all possible.  You need this book, and they need your support.

Two Pictures For A Friend

I ran across these two pictures in a blog post by Twisted Sifter, which were entries in the 2017 Nat Geo Nature Photographer of the Year contest. These are for Shore Acres, because she’s into wildlife photography.  They’re also beautifully abstract images.

Photo © Cole Frechou National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

This alligator is lurking in a pond covered with duckweed.

Photo © Jerry am Ende National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

Here’s a Rorschach test for you.  (It’s a heron preening.)

Seven Quick Finches

Seven quick finches go teasel threading
Carding their quivers at the weavers wedding
Widdershins working before loom-ward tending
Seven quick finches come teasel threading.

Artwork ©2017 by Jackie Morris, poem © 2017 Chris Jelley

Give your brain and your heart a treat.  Check out Jackie’s beautiful books. They are full of wonderful things.