Travel

Happy Birthday to my friend, the bridge

Posted on May 30, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Travel |

It IS amongst the most recognizable symbols of human habitation on the earth. In the United States of America, the East Coast has the Statue of Liberty; the West Coast has the Golden Gate Bridge. This notable structure had its 75th birthday this past weekend. I had relatives that remembered a time BEFORE the bridge, when one had to travel north of San Francisco on a ferry. You drove your car onto the ferry-boat and drove off on the other end.

San Francisco is on the tip of a peninsula. You can travel north and east of there by traveling south first and then driving east, and then north again, but it’s always been faster and much more efficient to travel over the water to get…well almost anywhere that wasn’t due south.

For the history of the bridge, along with some great photos, you can go here. I won’t repeat all the interesting facts there, such as that the bridge is constantly being painted. I met a man once that told me his job was to paint the Golden Gate Bridge. That’s it. Not just an industrial painter in general; his job was to be constantly painting the bridge in its signature vermillion color. (OK, so I shared ONE interesting fact…go see the above link; it’s all really quite interesting. Also the official 75th anniversary site is here.)

The picture at the top of this post is the view I had of the bridge from the football field at the high school I attended in San Francisco. There are actually even better and closer views of the bridge from the school. Being able to see the bridge from school is one of the few things I liked about high school…but I digress.

The bridge was always a part of my life; my neighborhood. From early childhood, I accompanied my parents across it in the car, usually when we went on brief weekend holidays to a woodsy cabin camp north of the city. It was always lovely riding across the bridge in a car. The views were spectacular: sailboats in the sparkling bay; the incredible mountains; the jaw-dropping San Francisco skyline view looking back towards the city. Even on those days of dense fog, where one couldn’t see a thing (and there were many) the bridge in the mist had an ethereal, other-worldly quality I valued just a much as when the days were clear and sunny and I could see forever.

It was when I was a young teenager–thirteen or fourteen years old–that I became “intimate” with the bridge. I had known for some years that people walked and bicycled across the bridge, not just drove. I had never walked across the bridge, but a youth group I was in was planning a bridge walk, and then a picnic “on the other side” That “side” was Sausalito, an absolutely charming town on the water, with elegant shops and eateries; houseboat communities and a yacht harbor, right down the hill and a lovely walk along the water from the bridge.  The first time I walked across the bridge, I carried a bowl of potato salad! We each brought something for the meal we’d share in the little park at our destination. I met my friends at the entrance to the bridge walk, and was almost in a trance all the way over. I’m surprised the potato salad made it intact. :)

I discovered that I could easily walk to the bridge from my home! I hadn’t really thought about that before the first time I walked the bridge. I could leave my cramped bedroom and walk, walk, walk all the way to Sausalito! My friends and I didn’t walk back from there; instead we took a ferry to downtown San Francisco, and then the bus home. The ferry ride itself was almost as magical.

One time, after I had moved to the magical land across the bridge from the city, I was driving on the bridge in my very lightweight car. A rare high wind came up and actually blew my car into the next lane! Fortunately there was no one in the place my car landed. I decided in the future to check the wind reports before driving, if the wind at all seemed out-of-the-ordinary. (And since then, I’ve driven heavier cars, too!)

I went on this walk a couple more times with friends, and then once or twice on my own. It is the most incredible walk, far above the sea; the boats; the world. The salt air and the feeling that I was one step further on the path through the universe was sometimes overwhelming. I felt the blood, sweat and tears of those that built the bridge (some had died from accidents during construction); and of those that had died by jumping from its heights. I did know a young man, a little older than me, that had jumped to his death from there, after his girlfriend broke up with him. I knew his mother quite well; she was never the same after this happened.

In spite of all that, the beauty and hope of this place; this bridge; this arc of welcoming to one of the greater cities on earth, held me in its sway. We became friends, the bridge and I, and it has never let me down, in or out of sight. Happy Birthday, dear friend!

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Three Spikes and You’re Sprout!

Posted on July 6, 2011. Filed under: Culture, Games, HowTo, Musings, Travel |

Subtitle: “Muse’s Tips for a Peaceful Summer*

I’ll get to the title and what it means in a second, but first! Here is tip #1
1. Do not wash a duvet cover in the same load as your socks!
I own two socks (from two different pair, of course) that I fear I won’t see again until winter (or what passes for that in the desert). In the summer, I don’t use the thick fluffy duvet, or its cover, so I launder and fold away the latter to keep safely stored through the hot months that make all us desert dwellers think we’ll never be cool again, but somehow winter does eventually come and we say: “Gosh it’s cold; wish I didn’t have to wear three pair of socks!” Honestly, I searched in all the corners and pockets of the duvet and pillowcases and such…but I guess these socks are not summer socks. I’ll put their mates with the duvet, and with luck we’ll all reunite in the winter.

2. Do not have three spikes on your Desert Spoon!
…it gets unwanted attention from the neighbors, and, perhaps from international reporters. This is not so much a tip as a warning. After all, you can’t really tell your plants how to grow, can you? Perhaps it would be better put: “If your main water line breaks in the spring, expect anomalies in the summer!+
I have written about my trials and tribulations with this ubiquitous shrub before (here and amazingly enough, again here.) I swore I would not do this…but, seriously, the Spoon near my kitchen window was getting so big it was about to push through and become my roommate, so I succumbed and had it trimmed up on the bottom. Yet another landscaper told me it would be more trouble to take that plant out, than to do that. Oh well.  It, in spite of the intrusive trimming, it has one spike. This is normal. Having TWO spikes is unusual, but common. Due to (I’m guessing) the large amount of water the huge, center, non-trimmed Spoon got during my pipe-bursting incident, I was not surprised to see it put up two building-high spikes. But, just in the last week or so, I see that a third spike has emerged! Do you know how rare this is? This is the only other one I’ve EVER seen! (photo credit: about-garden.com)    Perhaps we are easily amused here in the desert, or soft-headed from temperatures exceeding 105F (41C) each day, but I do see the neighbors stopping and pointing! Really!

3. When celebrating the American holiday “Independence Day”, decide ahead of time whether you want “natural” or “human-made” fireworks. Again, this will be only partially under your control. Quite recently, on the just-passed 4th of July, after enjoying various contributed foods and watching a spectacular sunset, it began to thunder. And rain. And loud non-nature-made booms ensued. And the sky lit up with spectacular lightning, while also hosting the colourful sparkles of created light this holiday is known for. Being out of doors, and a little damp, and a little anxious about the lightning, I nonetheless enjoyed this rare spectacle of nature and human creativity.  (This particular firework looks a bit like an exploding Desert Spoon, doesn’t it? hmmm :) )

Perhaps I’ll have other tips as the summer moves hotly along. We’ll stick with just these three for now. Happy Hot Days, for those experiencing them :D

* The actual title of this piece is a word play on a rule in American Baseball: “Three Strikes and You’re Out!” For those that DON’T know: A ball is thrown at a person holding a big stick in her/his hands. If the person fails to hit the ball with the stick (and therefore doesn’t get to run around in a square) three times in a row (or three “strikes”) they are “out”, which means they don’t get to play anymore. Until the next time.
I’m not really that much of a baseball fan, I prefer the sport of American Football (which is not “real” football, or soccer) but went to a lot of baseball games as a youth.
Why did I go? cuz my friends were going. Isn’t that why we do a lot of things? Should we give some thought to our motivations? …nah!
For more on the difference between American Football and American Baseball, see this video, which explains it kindly and sensibly (not really, but it’s funny as heck!)

+ The broken water line did in fact happen to me, and I lived in mud, but with no incoming water, for the better part of a week. Much landscaping and cash later, I have running water, new pipe and a better looking front garden, however the trauma caused the relocation of my favorite lizard, who had been living under the above-referred-to Desert Spoon for several years. :(

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I saw it! Winter Solstice Glory

Posted on December 23, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Science, Travel |

I feel lucky now. In many parts of my country, the Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse could not be seen. Where I live, there were clouds; there were stars; but, somehow, they moved away so the moon could be viewed—until it couldn’t. I stopped watching when it was completely covered, because I’d read that would last for three hours. And as it was very early in the morning by then, 1am-ish, I decided to just trust that the moon would reappear in its own time.

To say that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience is trite, but true. This will not happen again for some 90 years, plus or minus, so I’m not holding my breath! If medical science progresses far enough to keep me alive for that long, well, I’m not sure that would please me!

On this night, I was able to go into my marvelously large back yard, and, looking straight up, I could see the current phase of the eclipse. I started at about 11:30 my time (which is US Mountain Standard) and popped out every 15 minutes for the next hour. Each time I went, I thought it would be the last, but I couldn’t resist another look, until…there was eerily no moon and no sun, anymore!

What does it mean? Do we need to wait another 90 years to find out? All I know it, this was a Winter Solstice to remember, and, as a person that celebrates these anyway…I felt particularly blessed!

Blessed be to all as we move towards what promises to be a memorable year! :)

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So, that was summer, then…

Posted on August 23, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Health, Music, Musings, Travel |

This is what summer looks like from where I sit. Autumn looks a bit like that, too. In late Autumn and Spring there are also incredible wildflowers—then the desert looks a bit like the poppy fields in The Wizard of Oz.

The official “summer over” signal for me is the start of the autumn semester at the University of Arizona. The students are back. The staff is back. Everything kicks into high gear. July, being “the most popular month to leave Tucson” is very slow and sleepy and hot. It’s probably a bit like living in a summer resort town in the winter (except for the temperature!)  Although the Tucson area is not a resort, per se, it has many of them, and is known as a winter destination because of the mild temperatures then.

The problem with autumn being NOW (almost a full month before the season starts officially) is that it is still amazingly warm, and predicted to be so for at lest a couple more weeks. New students at the U are quite shocked by this. They may have made their campus visits in April, and now wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into. We can only tell them it DOES, eventually, cool off; you WILL need to wear sweaters and jackets. It gets COLD here, even snows a bit! Hard to believe at the moment. 

The other thing about this summer for me is that I DIDN’T GO ANYWHERE! I usually do in late July or early August. I will sometimes visit my family in California, but, these days I’m kind of snarky about that. I will not go unless I have other reasons to be there, like a conference or seminar, or a family event like a wedding, or something. I rarely travel just to travel. I have friends who used to invite me to their summer place in the mountains, and have had some wonderful adventures there, like this one. It is beautiful there in the summer. Warm days; cool nights; hiking and dining and western history. But…they sold their cabin! Without asking me! Can you imagine? ;) They said they weren’t using it as much, and they had a good buyer, and in this economy they thought they ought to take advantage of that.

So, it’s been an odd summer. I’ve barely left my area, other than for a couple of jaunts; one up to Phoenix (even hotter) and one down to Tubac (not much cooler, but fun to explore.) As some fall musical activities have started, I found myself greeting people I haven’t seen since last spring. There is a combination of “back-to-school” and “settling-in” energy going on with a lot of these folks, and they inevitably ask me where I went this summer. When I say I was here the whole time, I get the look: “Only a complete moron would stay in the Sonoran Desert all summer without relief!” :eek: I am familiar with that look, and have steeled myself to be on the receiving end of if for another month or so. :D

I will say that summer is a great time to hit the shopping centers and malls, if you like that sort of thing. In July, you can just about roller skate through Tucson Mall, for instance…try that in late November when the winter visitors and holiday shoppers are there! One can barely get a place to park, then. The other fun things are the restaurants. I haven’t taken much advantage, but they offer all kinds of specials and perks to get business in the summer. A couple of years ago a friend and I wandered into one of our favorites, and they were testing out their new menu. They served us two signature dishes for free! We only paid for our drinks. Good business practice, too, as this restaurant remains a favorite, and I often recommend it.

Now that work is starting to pick up again, I’m hoping the weather might mellow out soon. I’ll be able to hike here and here which I love, and perhaps rearrange my life a bit.

How has your summer been?

photo credits #1 eflon #2 Rick’s
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Thinking with our eyes

Posted on June 25, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Health, HowTo, Music, Philosophy, Travel |

Yesterday, I went to see the film The Karate Kid. I don’t generally do movie reviews, and won’t do an extensive synopsis here. I will say it’s a beautiful movie, and I recommend it. You will know the story: Kid gets bullied, kid learns Kung Fu, kid gains self-esteem. Every cliché from every martial arts film is in this one (and I’ve seen most of them) and there are some situations that are not quite believable. But, you knew that going in, didn’t you? The title character is stunning, and while a couple of scenes seemed unlikely at his age, his quirkiness and dedication kept me engaged. Jackie Chan gives the performance of a lifetime. There were gorgeous scenes incorporating the Forbidden City and The Great Wall of China.

But that’s not what this post is about. I found, as I watched, I wanted to take the training that the “kid” had. I’m probably slightly less agile *cough* than the kid, but, you know, I could work up to it! :)

At one point the kid is trying to ward off blows from behind a sheet. He wants to know how he could possibly do such a thing, since he can’t see where the punches are coming from. His instructor tells him he’s “thinking with his eyes”. I won’t give away any more of the plot, but this particular phrase struck me.

We’re a visually based society. Although I’m listening to a flute concerto as I type this, most of my attention goes to the computer monitor. I read; I type; I search the shelves to find my bread; I walk; I look; I dream. Even dreams are mostly visually remembered.

There are many stories of blind martial artists; this site has some, as well as a book to train the other senses. I haven’t learned Kung Fu, but I do some Tai Chi, and it’s a totally different experience doing the moves with eyes closed than with them open. As long as I have a safe space, and know I have enough room, I can do this.

When my eyes are closed, I can visualize how I want my body to be. When my eyes are closed, I reflect on the moment, without extraneous input, even from my own room, which I try to keep simple. When my eyes are closed, my awareness expands. There are no boundaries and anything is possible.

A wise man once told me: The Universe is Finite, but Unbounded.

Image from NASA, The Helix Nebula, also known as “The Eye of God”
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MUSE in Space!

Posted on June 15, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Games, Science, Travel |

Part 1: Speculation. OK, so I have this friend, that I met through this organization, who is a physicist. He teaches physics at the local U, and he’s brilliant at explaining mysterious mathematical concepts to the uninitiated. During the course of helping to facilitate several of his lectures for the organization, I’ve become a fan. Here in the Sonoran Desert, many residents run away when the temperature begins to stay at 100F (40C) or more, consistently. (Can’t really blame them, can you?) So, when I heard that this excellent speaker was giving a talk “downtown”, on Astronomy, I decided I would enjoy going to hear what he has to say, and support his project during this slow time of year.

Now, granted, I’m a bit of a Space Nut, as you’ll know if you read this post about how I collected moonlight on my body (shameless attempt to drive traffic to a prior post; I really did that, though). I like science in general; it is one of the creative arts for me. I’m not among those who believe it has definitive answers (nothing has definitive answers in my opinion) but I see it as a tool or filter to examine the Universe. This is important: “examine” not “conclude”. Perhaps you will put on sunglasses when it’s bright outside, and therefore are able to see, in greater detail, the nude pool party over your neighbor’s fence. The “nature” of the “party” hasn’t “changed” because of the “tool”—namely, the “sunglasses”—they just give you the opportunity to examine it in detail from one perspective. [Now, stop that! And go back into the house!] If you are like me (which I wouldn’t wish on you) you certainly wouldn’t make any Universal Conclusions about your neighbors based on that one observation of that one event. You may, however, decide to move away based on the one event. After all, they didn’t invite you, did they? Who wants to live next to people like that?

I checked out the venue for tonight’s lecture. It’s called Sky Bar. My first thought: “Quaint name for an astronomy club, that. Probably a rented room somewhere with mismatched chairs and concrete floors where science geeks gather.”

It turns out “Sky Bar” is an actual, well, Bar. You know: drinks; tables; dark room; bartenders; loud music; big screen tvs. The kind of place I generally stay away from…but! This one has a telescope mounted on the roof, which projects the night sky onto the aforementioned big screen tvs. And! They have “Family Night” on Tuesdays (don’t know how old the “families” have to be in order to be accommodated; it is a “bar” after all) during which they have a guest lecturer on an astronomical topic. Do you know anywhere else that has an astronomy bar? It’s so fun to live here!

Tonight’s topic is: “A Voyage through the Universe”. How could I not want to go?

This is an unprecedented blog post for me, because I’m posting Part 1 before I go. I shall UPDATE with Part 2: The Actual Experience upon my return. I just wanted to write up a little background first. I can’t believe this Bar for Space Geeks has been open since late last year, and I’m only just now hearing about it! See you later, with impressions.

==========

Part 2: The Actual Experience: I’m back! My first reaction to the experience is that it was hilarious! What are they thinking? I went with three friends, all of whom knew the speaker: (warning! switching tenses!)

We walk past an enclosed patio with university-looking-types waiting in line to peer through a HUGE telescope. Looks fun. Right inside the door, there are teenagers crowded around experiments from Tucson’s vegetable oil-powered Physics Factory, which was parked outside. Once inside we’re in what looks like a warehouse, with a very long bar along once side (Did I mention that this is a BAR? Yes, I believe I did.)

There were three very large televisions placed along the brick wall opposite the bar; #s 1 and 3 showing a basketball game, the middle with a live cam-feed of the local mountains. As it was still daylight, the Sky Bar was not yet featuring the night sky. We noticed a small platform, a piano, and a lectern near the middle tv, and figured that’s where the speaker would stand. Right next to THAT were two pool tables; even at this early hour getting plenty of use. We took seats at a one of the small tables scattered about, and ordered some drinks; waited to see what would happen next. Presently our average, yet overpriced pizza was delivered from next door, and the place started to fill. I looked around at the students, instructors, and other kinds of people, many of whom had their laptops out, working on this or that; others, though, beginning to speak louder and louder as their drinks began to take effect.

The speaker arrived, came over to say “hello”, and wondered out loud what he’d gotten himself into. They gave him a microphone and projector, and let him loose on the crowd. He began to speak about the wonders of the Universe, the relative sizes of the various galaxies and planets, and showed us what our sun will look like when it finally explodes sometime in the future. He told us we’d have time to finish our drinks, first.

A little girl, there with her family, stares at the slides and at the speaker in rapture. A little boy, with a different family, loudly declares: “This is so BORING! When can we go home?”

“Clink” go the glasses.
“Thwack” sounds the pool cue.
“Roar” yells the group that is watching the game.
“Born”—did I hear him say “spiritual globules”?
No, it was spherical: Baby star’s name.

Visit the Sky Bar…if you dare.
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This is How I Lived, then.

Posted on June 7, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Health, HowTo, Musings, Philosophy, Spirituality, Travel |

Awake, I slowly stretch, and look about the small room under the eves that is my home. I make my bed; I wash; I dress—quickly, as the world awaits. I’ve worn a thick sweater against the morning chill. I stop at the small station outside the main kitchen and fill my mug with fresh-brewed organic coffee, and walk about.

Most of the others don’t stir outside before breakfast, so I am pretty much alone. I don’t disturb the brothers working inside the kitchen. I begin my daily visit to those that are awake with me: several cows, two horses and some chickens. “Hello, Cow”, I say to one. She looks at me, only mildly interested, but it is enough.

I continue on my walk. There are acres to explore, should I wish to do so. I hear the bell. I slip into the chapel for the morning meditation. Then, it’s breakfast time, and my world is suddenly noisy. There are residents, visitors, and staff. I choose a table and try to blend in. I help to clean up. I don’t like to sweep the floors, but I don’t mind sorting the silverware and putting it into the powerful industrial-strength dishwasher.

It has warmed a bit. I take off the thick sweater and stretch; the remaining two shirts feel light and free. I spend the rest of the morning writing and reading; there will be a music class later this afternoon.

My next job is to chop vegetables. Apparently, we’re having vegetable soup for lunch, along with a variety of sandwiches. I’m very hungry, and lunch is very good. We have a quiet time after lunch. It’s one of the few places in California that actively observes Siesta, in my experience. I stay quiet, write letters…some days I fall asleep.

Now for the class: This week, there is a music camp here. The clear air and the beautiful rolling hills seem to inspire the singers to give it their all! After: shall I take a dip in the pool? Perhaps attend the Tai Chi class? Go for a really long walk? I try to move around every day; I like to stay fit. I extend myself, physically, in some way, and then have a nice refreshing shower.

The sun begins to lower in the sky. Evensong. I like the name. I’m not, totally, aligned with the belief system presented, but I am able to experience Evensong at the level of intention. My song this even’ is one of joy! I feel cleansed; purified, in a way I had not felt often in my secular life in the city. I amble over to the kitchen to help with dinner. This might actually be my favorite time of day.

In the evening, if there is a group, there is usually a party. I am an individual resident, neither a part of the permanent community, nor of the visiting group, but I linger on the fringe of the activity, sometimes worming my way in. There might be a movie, a dance, a lecture or a book discussion. If it’s not for me, or if there is no group this week, I am invited to join the residential community for television. They are warm and welcoming. I feel privileged to be included. If there is no group, we “say compline” right in the living room; otherwise we trudge over to the chapel.

Then, it’s bed time. I snuggle in; it’s gotten cool again. I read; write; contemplate. I actually go to sleep at a decent hour—unlike me these days. I love this life. This time, in that place, is one of my very cherished memories. Now, when I wish to capture the essence of at-one-ness, I remember how I/it was, when I lived among those who knew.

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Look(ed) up Cinco de Mayo…

Posted on May 5, 2010. Filed under: Culture, HowTo, Travel |

…because I heard on the news today that it was invented in California! Today, the fifth of May, is a big-deal Mexican-American holiday, particularly in border states like Arizona and New Mexico. I sort of assumed that people of Mexican descent had been celebrating it for centuries!

Here is the Real Story:

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not the celebration of Mexico’s independence day. The El Grito de la Indepedencia (Cry of Independence) is held annually on Sept. 16 in honor of Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule in 1810.

Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of freedom from a different oppressive European empire: France.  The holiday actually commemorates the Mexican army’s win over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

The holiday was invented in California in 1863, to draw Latinos in the US together. Now it is widely celebrated in the border states, and is becoming more widespread all over the US. The only Mexican state that celebrates it, however, is Puebla. Nearly every restaurant here in Arizona is offering Cinco de Mayo specials today. Our largest furniture retailer is having a Cinco de Mayo sale!

We celebrate by eating, drinking, and listening to music, as with many holidays. This year, it is especially poignant to recognize Mexican culture with the recent controversy over illegal immigrants. US people of Mexican descent have a long and proud heritage in our state, and whatever its origin, I celebrate the fifth day of the fifth month. ¡Olé!

National Blog Posting Month

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Look up! It’s Hedgehog Awareness week!

Posted on May 4, 2010. Filed under: Culture, HowTo, Musings, Science, Travel |

Admit it, you knew this, didn’t you? I must be the only one who’d blissfully gone about my business, until a startling headline in a forum caused me to look up at it.

I first became aware of Hedgehogs (before they had their own week) upon first having had Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland read to me. I was very young. The scene where the Queen played croquet using flamingos for mallets and hedgehogs for balls upset me terribly. The parental unit reading me the story attempted to indicate this was nothing but a charming bit of nonsense, consistent with the wonderful world of wonderland. I wasn’t buying it. How COULD the Queen, evil as she was, treat them so?

Later on in life, I became charmed, myself, by the creature’s ability to roll itself into a ball, and even allowed myself to be amused at Alice’s Queen’s exasperation when the croquet balls WOULD unroll themselves and go scampering away.

Now, it seems, they are endangered. There is a catch and release program alive and well in England (They’re actually released in Scotland. I have visions of Scotland becoming overrun by live, furry croquet balls.)

Things are looking up for the odd little mammals, thanks to the good work of this society.

Happy Hedgehog Awareness Week to you! :)

National Blog Posting Month

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Look up: Party Time

Posted on May 2, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Games, Musings, Spirituality, Travel |

I went to a party today. An organization I work for holds a party for its members twice a year. It’s location a little hard to find, so they say:” “Look for the Balloons!” in the invitations.

How did balloons come to be associated with parties? Why are there balloons, at all?

I don’t like these parties all that much. They are very noisy, and it’s not my favorite way to meet strangers. I’m not supposed to only talk to people I already know, either. I’m meant to “circulate”.

“The first rubber balloons were made by Professor Michael Faraday in 1824 for use in his experiments with hydrogen at the Royal Institution in London.” See? I knew I liked balloons for a reason! They’re meant for physics experiments!

The way I “circulate” at most parties is to stay in one place, and people come and go around me. I don’t run around the room saying “hello” to everyone I know. I don’t take official leave. I’m kind of rude, socially, actually.

“Balloons made from animal intestines have been known of throughout history.”  Sure! Let me blow air into a piece of wildebeest gut, and send it soaring!—Well, one does what one can for entertainment.

Still, people seem to like me well enough at these events; I don’t lack for conversation. I’d rather not yell the whole time, but it’s only for a couple of hours. And then there’s the food. There is usually great food.

There are two sad things about balloons. One is when they POP and scare little children (and unsuspecting adults). Worse, though, is when I see a child holding onto her balloon by the string, and she inadvertently lets go, and it goes floating away. I want to cry along with her!

Our organization is all about lectures and seminars and discussions about science and consciousness. Exciting, but, at the same time, rather dry. It is thought by some members of the governing committee that it’s a good idea to allow our attendees to socialize; to “let their hair down.” I take a look at three people busy letting their hair down. I giggle to myself. All three happen to be bald.

And there’s the “other” kind of balloon, too; the kind that humans can ride in a basket under! The first time I saw that kind of balloon was while watching the Wizard of Oz float away in one, leaving poor Dorothy and Toto behind! For a definitive and accurate history of ballooning, I refer you to Monty Python’s excellent series on the topic

The thing is, I don’t really understand parties. There are a lot of things I don’t understand, and this is one of them. Why are they fun? Granted, one gets to see people in a different context than usual. Perhaps see some people one hasn’t, for a while, or meet some interesting new folks. But, drink in hand; stories flying high–does this sort of social engagement really promote friendship? or business “networking”? Or–what?

My neighboring state, New Mexico, has a balloon fiesta each year; one of the largest and best known. It’s quite a sight! Look at the photos. And then, look up! You might just see one float by. Find your own story. Let your thoughts grow lofty with the air currents. Who knows? Perhaps balloons carry our wishes and desires to the gods!   National Blog Posting Month

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