Monday, May 30, 2011

For all those who face the snowy heights of honor with a mighty heart...

On May 30, 1884, then-Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. gave an address- his first important public address outside the law. The speech was given in Keene, New Hampshire, before John Sedgwick Post No. 4, Grand Army of the Republic, in a white painted town hall on the village common. His words seem as apt today as they were 127 years ago:

"So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiam and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go somewhither as hard as ever you can. The rest belongs to fate. One may fall- at the beginning of the charge or at the top of the earthworks; but in no other way can he reach the rewards of victory...

...But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us. But, above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

NOT what you want to find when you run home for some lunch!

Seems the wind yesterday took out my lovely tree, the one that shaded my hammock.  The tree in turn took out Brad's grill and some fence and a waterpipe for the irrigation system in the yard.  Thank goodness I'm not responsible for the cleanup effort that I suspect will take days...

Friday, May 20, 2011

for those of you who like the new background

It is a photo of a section of a map that hangs on my wall.  I bought the map on a trip to Istanbul back in 2005 at the book market- it is made of four separate sheets of paper glued together.  It is handpainted and covered in hand-written notes in Turkish; the back is all handwritten text.  The guy who sold it to me tried hard to convince me it was a very very old antique, and it might be, but frankly the age wasn't as important to me as the fact that I instantly loved it.  My mom subsequently gave me the purchase price of the map as a birthday gift, and when I was looking for a new background to convey my feeling about the Foreign Circus, I knew instantly I wanted to use my lovely birthday map.

Closeup of the map

The map in my old apt in DC circa 2007

Sunday, May 8, 2011

104 degrees and it is only May 8th!

so obviously the long hot humid summer is about to begin. I'm torn- summer heat should mean a drop a sandstorms which trigger killer allergies in me, but when it is hot and humid at midnight, you begin to feel like you are living in a sauna on the face of the sun. We aren't there yet mind you, but I know it is coming. I'll be home for part of the summer and am sure DC will feel like a cool spring day in comparison to Dhahran, but I'll still be here for the worst of the heat. Time to start creating some summer beverages to take the edge off...