Wednesday, May 26, 2010

knee deep in Nevsky

Pictured above is an icon painting of
Alexander Nevsky, a saint and known as the Protector of the Russian army.

Every semester, I take a course at the university because it is free for me since I teach as an adjunct. This summer, I decided to take a five week course called the History of Alaska. It involves a good deal of reading, which I enjoy; missionaries from the Russian Orthodoxy and Presbyterian ministries, anthropological stories on the Native Alaskans and Russian history to list a few topics are some of the issues that we cover. You need to do a power point presentation among other things for the class. I decided to do my talk on Alexander Nevsky, known for the famous Battle on the Ice where he conquered the Germans. I tied my speech in with the films of Sergei Eisenstein, a 20th century film maker known for his brilliant epic stories on the grandiose scale and who created 12th century medieval Russia wonderfully in his films. (You can rent his films at the Loussac Library in town or most certainly at Netflix.) The actor seen above portrayed as Alexander Nevsky, was one of Stalin's favorite artists.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

homespun sounds

The subtlety of sounds and the home of hundreds of many bird species sometimes draws me in. Last Sunday, a beautiful and cool sunny day, Ken and I took a short drive to Potter's Marsh and observed the fresh noises of spring. I caught the Arctic Tern flying and hanging on the waters and read that it is known to complete one of the longest migrations of any known animal. From a distance it looks so small and unassuming, but after looking through the lens of binoculars, it is powerful and strong with a massive wingspread. This bird lives close to thirty years.

Sounds from the roaring Seward Highway can be heard on the video clip and oftentimes when I look down the coast, I get that vacation feeling of immense excitement and freedom. Alaskan summers does that to me; stirs up old times when I was younger and on the road with my parents, going somewhere new. There were family vacations to Gettysburg, Washington DC, New Hampshire and Niagara Falls to name a few. Staying at roadside motels were thrilling because we got to swim in the pools and showed off our diving skills. Early mornings, I couldn't sleep because I would listen to the sensations of a new place; the adventure of traveling and seeing and experiencing a first time destination presenting itself with possibility and it was the most fantastic thing that anyone could do.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

between distances

Ken's new bureau is finally finished. It was specifically designed to fit our computer area in our home but after moving the object in from his shop, we decided that the piece got too cramped and lost. I felt it needed more visibility for this fine art furniture and so we moved it to the front room.

Speaking of place, below is a larva or monsoma pulveratum, the sawfly; new and recent discoveries have been significant on this insect. Ken also writes and publishes scientific information for the Forest Service and his photographs of his field work are often included in pamphlets, booklets and scientific journals.

Last evening, I caught a glimpse of Ken, my husband and partner of close to ten years. As I was standing in our dining room, I saw his head from outside the front window of our door, perfectly framed and peeking out to me. He was fully engaged hanging with our dog Blue not knowing I was looking at him. It was at that point I saw how handsome he was. And within that distance, that moment, I realised that I had forgotten him. At the same time a fresh picture of someone I knew so well became outstanding. Perhaps we lose sight of each other; perhaps we get too close and they become too familiar.

Great impressionist painters painted these glimpses of fleeting images, these instants of lost time. These moments are magical and cogent realizations of what we take for granted.