Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mysterious mysteries

When I create a new post on Just Add Light and Stir, sometimes I check to see if the title I'm about to use has been used before. Yesterday's was "Mysteries." It had not been used.

There are amusing mysteries, spooky mysteries, beautiful mysteries and sacred mysteries.

Sometimes a thing is just a thing, and sometimes it's mystery.
 photo DSC09642.jpg
Other mysteries here:
photo by Sandra Dodd

I liked that to one called "Everyday mysteries," with a slightly similar photo. But there were others, by name and theme, and I'm gathering them together here.

Everyday Mysteries (July 27, 2011):

We don't know what will happen today. Plans can change. Unexpected things happen, and we don't even know whether they will be pleasant surprises or oopsies.

Life can be mysterious. Learn to love surprises!
photo by Sandra Dodd

A beautiful mystery (June 2, 2013):

"I want to see Lucas Sven Leuenberger's math rock band. But where? When?

"The future is a beautiful mystery."
—Doozy Dodd
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One doesn't need to know what math rock is to appreciate the comment about the future.
photo by Colleen Prieto

The Mystery of the Moment (January 11, 2013):

"What's in there?" Even before children can talk they wonder. They want to look in boxes, suitcses, open drawers, look into cabinets. Life is a mystery—a puzzle full of wonder with things inside other things, surprises in disguises.

When I was a kid, I was curious about buildings, houses, garages and sheds in my home town. I had a goal of going into every house. I tried to go into every business. Visiting friends, selling cookies, trick-or-treating and Christmas carolling got me peeks into private homes.

Some folks are curious about how machines work, or similarities in the skeletons of different birds. Some learn how guitars are built, or what makes a soufflé rise. Notice what your children wonder about. Help them explore the world. Nurture your own curiosity. You can't know what will happen, or what you will find, and some of it will be wonderful.

A mom named Amy left a comment on a Just Add Light and Stir post:

I had always wanted to learn to be live in the moment, but it seemed a great mystery. Having my daughter and becoming an unschooler, I finally get it! . . . We are living together, happily, every day. What a nice way to be.
Amy's comment is here
photo by Sandra Dodd

There was one with "…a sense of mystery…" in a 2002 quote from Ren Allen.
Open and willing (March 23, 2013):

I don't worry anymore that my children won't learn everything they need to for this life. I also see that joyful learning can only happen if we are open and totally willing to see every moment, every interest, everything as opportunity. We never know what a tidbit of information, or an experience might lead to...and not knowing can bring a sense of mystery to this whole Unschooling life. If we keep that sense of mystery, that feeling that this COULD lead to big things, (but if it doesn't that's ok too) we will so much better be able to serve our children well when supporting and encouraging their unique interests and pursuits. That's what it's all about for me.

Being an avenue instead of a closed door.

—Ren Allen
April 2002
photo by Sandra Dodd

I did use this squirrel on another post. If you follow the link to the rest of what Ren wrote, you'll know why I brushed it off for this. I saw this squirrel in Lyon, France. It was carved in the 17th century (at least the carving above it says "Maison fondeé en 1684").

Looking at those as a set, there is something interesting. One is from July 2011, and all the rest were 2013. It could be coincidence. Literary analysis would suggest I became more interested in mystery as a theme, this year. Yet another mystery!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Swirly Hurlys, real and imagined

Last month, I was at the Phoenix airport and took a photo of the exit from the parking lot. It's a big one. Minneapolis/St. Paul airport has one, and my kids liked it when they were little. They called it the swirly hurly. Perhaps that's a common name for a kind of sick-making spiral road.

BUT…. those roads? Always just one-way. Down.

Then I saw this:

Proposed Pleasure Tower, 1937 Paris Exposition

If you click the link above, you can see some details—Restaurant for 2000 guests. Garage to house 500 cars. Beacon 2,300 feet high.

Maybe it's because I'm a mom. Maybe it's because I'm American.
This seems way crazy. One accident—who rescues? Who tows? One automobile over the rail—how many people does it fall on?

Even the artist couldn't get enough space on that road. Check the upper left, car coming up. And they're going into that big parking

What kind of easy suicide tower is that for the pedestrians who took the elevator up, or those on the platform who might've come out of autos. I just don't like it. It spooks me even that someone thought about it and drew it and published it, as though there was anything around it that was a good idea.

Maybe my instincts changed when I became a mother.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Scary stories of the Christian Cults

I find myself without a good place to save or express this. I've been reading this morning about HSLDA, politics (rare for me) and Christianity (not rare, but this was a rare set of readings).

I DID NOT KNOW that there are churches treating young adults as children.

I DID NOT KNOW that there were churches that tell children (of 20 years old) that they are not allowed to speak to their parents about a topic, or that would "forbid" a parent to talk to his or her own child (adult child). I am SHOCKED that there were adults (of 20 or 45 years) who would agree to such a crazy-ass condition.

*He commanded that no one talk about the incident in which they were personally involved and affected by, preventing parents from investigating the truth of their own kids’ actions and involvement. All were expected to accept his solitary findings without question. It is not “gossip” or “sowing discord” to discuss or even argue about actions in which one is personally involved.

That was about some kids who had danced at a bridal shower. Just danced. Then they were shunned from a church for two weeks, some of them; four weeks, some of them. And not allowed to talk to ANYbody about it.

Homeschooled families. Families homeschooling because they had been persuaded it was a sin not to. The quote is from the Baptist Taliban blog, but an unschooling mom who was once a Christian school-at-home mom in a church they left after many years of deep involvement.

Exploring, today, I also came to a list of blogs
Survivor Blogs

This page began as a listing of bloggers who grew up in and were affected by the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements—which is best captured in a loose array of leaders and organizations, including Bill Gothard and ATI, Dough Phillips and Vision Forum, Doug Wilson, Michael and Debi Pearl, Joshua, Alex, and Brett Harris, and Michael Pearl—but it has since expanded.

One had an account of courtship, in which parents were controlling young-adult children to a frightening degree, and it was acceptable to all four parents, and agreed to by the couple (now married, but once forbidden to be in the same place or to communicate in any way).
When I first met you – Courtship, Part 1
And then you broke my heart – Courtship, Part 2
All hell broke loose – Courtship, Part 3

I've put these here because I wanted to be able to find them again. I don't want to disturb unschooling discussions with them (and it would be off topic). If I put it on my personal blog, someone is tweeting every post, marking it "unschooling." This is not. I don't want them anywhere near Always Learning or Just Add Light and Stir, both of which are dedicated to peace and joy. These things are far from either of those, except in the fact that people are leaving oppressive, abusive situations. But the descriptions of why, and even the tone of some of the current posts, is broken, dark, and sad. People recovering from fundamentalism might not have enough years to recover in a long lifetime.

I've always known there were big bad things in and among the homeschooling families on that edge of reality, but I've seen worse today than I knew before. I had read years ago about families not letting kids play with other kids whose parents didn't believe exactly as they did about doctrinal details. Today I read about a minister who encouraged sports, but only against other teams of the same doctrinal beliefs. I read about men being told to keep their wives off the internet because women gossip 24/7 and will do damage to [churches? fundamentalism?].

Years ago I was asked how, if I didn't believe in hell, would my children learn to be moral. Or how I would teach them to be kind an honest if we didn't have Jesus, or something like that. EASILY!! Very easily. Make it about the kind of people they want to be, and the feelings of other people. Easy. And they ARE moral people, and kind, and nice.

What I read today was about cruelty, lies, porn and meanness, and they were blaming Jesus and the Bible for it all.

Partly it came up from anti-Halloween joking, and something about demon-possessed Halloween candy. That was funny, if the tip of an iceberg of horror can be funny.

DANGER, regarding leftover Halloween candy.

Quoting a warning:

"I do not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent, whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference."

Damn it, demons. Keep your demonic cooties out of the treats of the innocent.

Now perhaps this is part of the ravings of a mad woman possessed by imaginary angels. And perhaps I'm misusing the word "perhaps." But nobody fabricated that quote to make fundamentalist Christians look bad. (Why Celebrating Halloween Is Dangerous) Even the counter-opinion pro-Halloween-for-Christian-kids article is based on thinking that the claims of scaredy-Christians and neo-pagans are true about the dark and dangerous alleged history of Halloween.

But still... claiming that the candy itself is cursed is FUNNY! What a waste of emotion and belief, to see evil everywhere.

P.S. I've looked again, at that, in 2019, and the comments thread is a ton of fun.
Here: Demonic Candy at

More, on the site the demonic candy quote came from: Charisma Magazine, search for "demonic candy," 11 links found

On Why Celebrating Halloween Is Dangerous, quoted up above, the site has put a disclaimer, that it's a controversial topic,and those are the views of the author. They probably did it because several people commented on that and linked to it at the time. I only quoted the kid-friendly parts. She goes on to some REALLY wild claims.
Other commentary on her article:

Witches Put Demons In Halloween Candy? More Could Believe That’s True Than You Might Think. (Center for Inquiry)

Demons Get Busy in the Vortexes of Hell (The Atlantic)

Christian Broadcasting Network Warns Against ‘Demonic’ Halloween Candy (Huffington Post)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Motifs and traditions: Guardian Angel

"Heilige Schutzengel" might be the most commonly known version of the motif of the Guardian Angel, and it's from Germany in the late 19th century, but the history of these images hasn't yet been tracked well. There are many versions, and I saw a new one in the grocery store this week:

There are many variations—older boy, younger girl, different bridges, different hair and coloring on the angel—but there is usually a broken bridge, water, darkness and trees.

This cartoon version has a touch of water and a rock showing through the hole in the bridge, but behind the angel is a cloth of stars, suggestive of Our Lady of Guadalupe with her starry cloak.

I think the older versions are comforting for parents. This new one is kid-friendly, not so scary. The kids are still in the German clothes, with the basket, with the red napkin, but the scary storm and waterfall are darkness are all gone.

This is marked in wikipedia as having been a German postcard from 1900. The candle in the center above is very similar, but has a higher waterfall, and more colorful clothing.

The star above the angel's head is in many of the variants. It creates a sort of halo. Most of the art I've seen is of the permutation above—movement toward the left, two children, broken bridge. Below is one that has bridge (solid, but no handrail), waterfall, star over the angel, but the costumes are more classical—the angel's is the art deco style Greek/Roman (some art historian should feel free to leave a clarifying note), and the child has the scrip and staff of a medieval pilgrim. Barefoot, as matches the tradition of the child on the bridge, but the bag and walking stick don't suggest "on the way home" so much as being on a journey.

If the building up the valley is a school, maybe the bag is lunch. I think it's a church, though, by the spire and window. This one is not "right," by guardian-angel-art standards, but it does have long red hair and a star above the angel.

In a box at my house, I have a collection of years worth of guardian angel art picked up to save to compare. Maybe I'll scan or photograph some of it and bring it here, so I've put tags on this post for future connections.

To google for more images, you could try these in addition to "guardian angel art"—Heilige Schutzengel or Angelito de la Guarda. "Angelito" doesn't mean the angel is male, because (I believe) angels are non-sexual, non-gender creatures, and the noun is masculine.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Handles of screwdrivers

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In the U.S., plastic screwdriver handles follow on the shape of wooden handles.

In the U.K. that's true too, only their wooden handles were round, rather than square.

[photo from car boot sale late May 2013]

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My idea pile

This blog was started six years ago, and only has 70 posts. I went to check.

There are sixteen posts started and not finished (drafts, not published yet). That's a high percentage of uncompleted ideas! I still might finish them, or I might not. Some are waiting for photos, or linke.

It's not a minimalist life, collecting things. I'm afraid I will leave a mess when I go. A mess on my desk, kind of a mess online, but there are some treasures, too.

I could, I suppose, just put these things on my own personal blog, but I like having them in a collection of collections.

The project that has taken my energy and time in recent years is Just Add Light and Stir, and if anyone comes by here and isn't aware of that one, you might want to go there and subscribe. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Library at Alexandria, and RCA Victor

Twice in two days someone said, in my house, "The Library at Alexandria." One was me, to Keith, in a conversation about how bad I should feel if I decide to dump all my 36 years' worth of saved papers and artifacts from the local and regional history of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Oh... I have stuff from five years before I joined, too, given to me by people who wanted to dump their collections, and knew I had one.

The next day, a friend was over talking to Marty and me and mentioned the mystery of what might've been in that library.

In the course of a long conversationa bout saved things, and lost things, I mentioned the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archives. Neither Marty nor Bo knew about it. I use it frequently.

Today, planning to send them a link to it, I was in looking to see where it's backed up, because we had talked about that, too. When I first knew about the Internet Archive, I read that it was at The Prisidio, in San Francisco, which doesn't seem geographically stable. I guessed that it might be backed up in Bouler or some high-plateau sort of facility. I was in there reading about the history of the Internet Archives and some courtroom commentary and uses, and saw, at the bottom, a link to the Official mirror of the Wayback Machine at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina . Huh!

Then I looked up the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and found that it's a real (and really big) place, built as close as they could figure or get to where the original library was. That seems like as bad an idea as storing the internet archives in San Francisco, which seems prone to fire, earthquake, mudslide and maybe tsunami. Being on a historic military compound won't save them from any of that. So the backup is where the LAST Alexandrian library sank into the swamp! Mediterranean! Or burned. Or gradually declined. But I had already read, by then, that there was a backup at Sun Microsystems in Santa Clara, or that that's where it all lives now, maybe.

The Wayback Machine is named after one on Rocky and Bullwinkle that sounded like that, but looked like WABAC. Rocky and Bullwinkle didn't time travel; they weren't in those segments. A boy named Sherman would be taken into history by Mr. Peabody, a dog. I found a list of their destinations, and was sad to see they didn't travel to the Library at Alexandria. They did visit Cleopatra. Amazon Prime will show that and two other adventures here, free with Amazon Prime, $1.99 otherwise, and probably unavailable to some portion of humans on earth, in 2013.

Meanwhile, back in Egypt, tile art found while they were excavating to build the new library:


That looks plenty enough like this:

I know what the second dog is looking at, and listening to. WHAT is that gold mouse-hotel-looking thing the top dog is posed with? Another thing mentioned last night is how long gold lasts. In a fairly recent conversation with Will Geusz, we were talking about how long tile lasts, if you don't drop it and break it, because an artist has put some of my words on tile plaques (here).

Here's an image from a better angle, with explanation:
A Beautiful Mosaic in the New Library of Alexandria

So here's what I intended to send to Bo and Marty. The oldest stored version of my unschooling web page: Marty was 11. He's 24 now.

Here's the page that hosts the Wayback Machine:

And in a related topic, also at the Internet Archive, people can upload sound files, and many of my conference presentations are there (if you search Sandra Dodd and maybe add unschooling).

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sheep to bus to play to Singapore to movie

Retronaut had a photo of "Sheep on the strand" (in London in 1923). One of the busses had an ad for "The Unfair Sex." I thought it might be a movie, but it wasn't... yet.

I googled "The Unfair Sex" and 1923, and found a newspaper article describing a production of the play in 1931, but it mentions ..."'The Unfair Sex,' the Savoy Theatre Success of 1925..."

You might need to click an "I agree" box to see it, but the site seems safe and stable.

The play, which had a character who was obsessed with films, was made into a silent movie in 1926. I googled "The Unfair Sex" and 1923, and found a newspaper article describing a production of the play in 1931, but it mentions ..."'The Unfair Sex,' the Savoy Theatre Success of 1925..." (You might need to click an "I agree" box to see it, but the site seems safe and stable.)

The play, which had a character who was obsessed with films, was made into a silent movie in 1926.

Nita Naldi was one of the stars. Someone has created a web presence for her (her photo is on IMDB, and there's a beautiful website).

I could have kept following trails. Some of that will stay in my mind, though, and the idea that something from the 1920's could have such a web presence says something interesting about the progress of the internet.

Put things online! Add to our shared wealth of information.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

International incident, with ducks

Amsterdam, Australia, France... Netherlander ducks, Just Add Light and Stir, England and New Mexico, 85 years.

So... Julie Daniel sent me some photos to us in Just Add Light and Stir. This one would've have been legible at the small size I use for that blog, but I liked it, so I thought I should share it. Then I wondered what it's about. An act of kindness? Lack of dedication to one's nation? Sports! Conservation. Connections? Different readers will connect it to different things in their thoughts and lives.

I don't know where the sign exists (where Julie took the photo), and I don't know who loved the story enough to make sure money was spent on a sign that would be there a long time. Wikipedia says this, about that (and some other things):

Pearce won all of his races with relative ease. He defeated his first opponent Walter Flinsch of Germany by 12 lengths and his second opponent Danish rower Schwartz by 8 lengths. In the quarter final he was easily beating French opponent Saurin when a family of ducks strayed into his lane. Pearce momentarily stopped rowing to let the ducks pass; he still won by 20 lengths and broke the course record. In the semifinals, Pearce was pressed by David Collett of Great Britain, winning by three-quarters of a length (roughly 1.5 sec). In the finals he became the first Australian to win gold in the single sculls by defeating Kenneth Myers of the United States by 9.8 seconds. In winning he established a new Olympic record, some 25 seconds faster than the previous mark. This also earned him the Philadelphia Gold Cup, which represented the amateur champion of the world. He was awarded an Honorary Life Membership of the Sydney Rowing Club.
That was sweet, about the ducks. Had he lost the story would have a different tone. But he didn't have teammates to be angry about it; he was there alone. And he could've been even better prepared, but there were rules then that aren't now:
In preparation for the 1928 Olympics, Pearce attempted to enter the Diamond Sculls at the Henley Royal Regatta, but was barred as he was a carpenter by trade: the rule relating to amateur status then in force barred anyone "Who is or has been by trade or employment for wages a mechanic, artisan or labourer." This socially discriminatory wording was deleted in 1937.
One thing leads to another!