A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘research

They don’t HAVE to be new photos….  not really.

I’m starting up the First Friday Photo Blog again.  There’s something about art: drawing, painting, even photography…  like writing, it’s an attempt to capture and create a new life from an expired moment.  A glimpse into the past or a dream…  the world through another person’s perspective.

Like my piece for today….

It doesn’t look like much, I know.  A kind of dirty old wall from what looks to be a ruin of an old church…  maybe?

Actually it’s one of the walls of Westminster Abbey’s Chapter House, and compared with some of the other walls, it looked very plain.  The original paintings and murals throughout the Chapter House had been plastered over for a time (anyone who studies old buildings knows that fads go in and out, and one of these was whether to have brightly painted murals on the walls or clean white surfaces… a lot of historic churches have great artwork hiding just under the whitewash).  Most have been somewhat recovered.  Not this wall, however.  This wall just looked forgotten, like maybe it had never held the brilliant artwork that decorated some of the walls.  Like this image from the English Heritage site or the image below I took while there this fall:

Images of Heaven and Hell

Thing is, when I got a bit closer to the wall (nudged by the crowd), I realized what had looked like blank stone held so very much more…

Don’t be afraid to make this image larger!

And then, zooming in closer….

How is your ecclesiastical Latin?

Do you see it now?  Granted, photos saved for the web don’t do justice to the sheer niftiness of this “blank slate”, but hopefully you see the writing on the wall.  Literally….  It was amazing.  Standing there, seeing all that text on the ashlar blocks.  Everyone else was looking at the gilded murals of the angels and admiring the bright colors, but once the crowd started to drift out, I gathered a peaceful moment with the docent and found the Abbey has been working with extra care to preserve this wall, because the slightest chip could change a meaning in the writing if it lands in the right place.  And there’s so much missing already…

A glimpse of the past…  of many pasts, really.  As well as the present, and hopefully… the future.

Here’s the linky. It will be active all weekend for posting your pictures if you are interested in joining me in this creative journey:

Front Page Graphic for Wikijunior Ancient Civi...

I had the pleasure of making Laird’s acquaintance almost two years ago now through our local Atheist and Agnostics Group.  At that time, I just knew he was an amazingly friendly guy, that his wife was amazingly patient with my son (who wanted to regale her with story upon story from books he loved), and that the conversation (which was very hard to follow in the crowd) often touched on ancient civilizations and science, both topics that enthrall me.

I asked Laird if he would write a piece on the sort of things that inspire him.  As you can imagine by his diverse interests, he savors the world, but I’ll let him explain how in his own words.  Without further ado, please welcome Laird Scranton to Your Inspirations:

For me, inspiration – the spark that breathes life into an idea – is something that comes much more easily when I surround myself with interesting people, situations, activities, and ideas.   As with most things, the more immersed I am in an active exchange of interesting ideas, the easier it seems to be for me to come up with an interesting one of my own.

I often feel that inspiration can be triggered by little things, like some incidental thought that may cross my mind during the day, a simple phrase that I casually overhear, or the unexpected answer someone gives to a question I have asked. 

Situations that offer changes in perspective also seem to help promote the processes of inspiration, and so I like brain teasers, optical illusions, mysteries, puns, and a funny new joke.  I really appreciate being around children, in part because they are often not as practiced at seeing the world in the same old predefined ways.

Sometimes I even think to do things to change my own perspective. For example, try saying the same word over and over again so many times that you effectively disconnect the sound from the meaning.

 At times I find inspiration in simple everyday mistakes. I have a friend who once briefly failed to recognize the word “fruit” because his mind somehow interpreted the letters as “fru –it”.   My wife Risa recalls a time when her brother couldn’t remember whether the word “of” should be spelled OV or UV.

When I was in middle school, I became aware that I often found humor in things that almost no one else around me thought were funny.  That still happens – just ask my wife.

I make an effort to pay close attention to my dreams, since I’ve often seen important thoughts play out in them. My dreams are sometimes set in unusual locales that can reappear again and again, and which I have learned to navigate with complete familiarity.  I recently discovered one of these locales to be a neighborhood I actually lived in when I was only two years old, even though I had no conscious recollection of it.

Finally, as the word implies, I know that inspiration really should be as easy and natural as breathing in and out. The trick may be to simply pay close attention while you’re busy breathing. 

Laird Scranton

Laird Scranton CPAK 2008 image

A software designer by trade, Laird Scranton enjoys exploring the intersection of history, mythology, and science.  His curiosity has inspired to write four books to date on topics that range from the analysis of the oral and symbolic teachings of the Dogan people in Mali to a reassessment of the Young Venus theory proposed by Immanuel Velikovsky .  He has published articles through various universities, including Colgate and Temple.  He has a degree in English from Vassar College.  He lives in Albany, NY.

For further information on Laird’s writing, please check these links:

First off, let me say a very warm welcome to everyone who chose to click that little “Follow” button–old friends and new:  Evan at The Better Man Project, Coral Russel at the Alchemy of Scrawl, Elizabeth Anne Mitchell at Leavekeeping, Shan Jeniah Burton,  Janeen at Words By Design, Natasha Guadalupe at My Novel Writing Adventures & Other Words, Miss Elsie at bowerdiaries, and Studio Brow.  Thank you!

Today I’m mostly in the mood to talk about books.   I just started one you see–Knees Up, Mother Earth by Robert Rankin.  I’m not sure why…I think it was because it was the only thing on my immediate shelves that called itself fiction, at least without me having to get out the key for my paperback collection.  (I use and old VHS tape cabinet for most of my paperbacks; CDs go in the doors; it’s an odd system, but it works for me).  I don’t have a lot of fiction anymore.  When we moved to our present house, I weeded down my book collection to my few favorites and the books I assumed I would need for research.  I thought I would use the local library more than I have.  I used University of Albany‘s library and the Albany Public Library regularly when I lived there.  It didn’t work out, and that’s a long story in itself.  Suffice it to say, I understand the passion books can incite in one, but a librarian should be more welcoming of the idea that people may want to actually taken them off your shelves and look at them; and the library should be open more hours than two days a week for three hours in the afternoon (that actually has changed in the ten years we’ve been here, but habits have become what they are, and I tend to get my books from other places now). Read the rest of this entry »

Inanity seems to be spreading.  I keep trying to sort through all the twaddle and detritus that had taken over my daily affairs, but the more I clear, the more I find.  Quicksand of the mind….

I just finished an amusing jaunt through Dustin Curtis‘s Blogzine–a fun place to spend some time and consider design issues.  I also have been spending far too much of my energy studying NYS vaccine law and what the requirements are for possibly getting an exemption.

Ah, yes…  I hear it now.  She’s one of THOSE people.  Well, not really.  I’m not categorically against vaccines;  I just have watched my son have reactions two times now that increased in severity each time, and I would like to avoid a worse reaction.  The problem?  Well, my son goes to preschool, he LOVES preschool, and without a medical exemption (his reaction wasn’t labeled as “severe enough” to warrant not giving him the full spectrum of vaccines at his next appointment), it’s pretty much an all or nothing situation.  All vaccines and admission in school…or no vaccines and possibly no admission in school.  And as I said, I’m not against vaccines in general.

To top it all off, I don’t like the “one size WILL fit all” mentality that is part of vaccination.  The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics likes to play the benefits outweigh the risks, but as a friend of mine could tell you, being the 1 out of the 1 in a 1 million still sucks.   And I’m selfish enough (and, according to some, immoral enough) to think I want my son to not suffer, even if it might mean someone else might someday suffer for it.  But then, this is the not-quite 4year old who just came up to tell me he is an “ent-to-mologist: that means I study insects, Mommy”, taught me the 4 extra letters in the Spanish alphabet versus the English one, can do his multiplication tables up to 12×14, and likes to tell us what fraction of pizza or pie he has gotten…

And throughout all this, I’m still working on my various character sections of Courting the Swan Song.  Lately I’ve been trying to merge Atyr and ‘Listii’s stories.  The weaving of these two characters is both pivotal and intense, as well as a bit hard to picture, since they spend so much of their lives being controlled (directly) by others.  Yet whenever I try to imagine a break from their stories by writing about Alanii, the story gets harder to visualize.  I see Alanii as the man he’s become, not the youth he was (-is- in CTSS), as Kieri’s counter in Release, a man already weary and jaded by all he’s seen and done.  His POV should be easier than the other two, yet he’s the one I can’t get close to anymore.

Ah, well…  Pen to paper time.

I always get in a muddle (a good kind) when I start looking into things that catch my eye.

Last week I made another trip to the Albany Institute and while admiring many of the pieces there, scribbled what notes I might be able to translate later and still take in the place in a somewhat timely fashion.  I still have many more days to take on this task, since I barely completed a tour of the Culture & Symbols Gallery and glimpsed some of the gift shop.

The obsession that day was old buildings (one of the obsessions).  I began admiring an engraving of the home of a certain Joel Rathbone, Esq.  and the lithograph of a James Wagner c1860.  I was able to find this page on the Rathbone home which details its history and end.  (As I asked a friend in an email, what is it that always brings me back to Doane Stuart?)  I have not been having as much luck discovering anything regarding the fate of the home of James Wagner, though since the structure strikes as something I remember seeing before, perhaps it still exists.

I have however been taken on a delightful tour of  Albany County history from this.  While I’m sure what I should be doing is raiding the NYS Archives the hard way, poring over pages, I am trying to find everything I can online first.  I’m basically trying to find everything I can on something I don’t even know exists.

The same thing always happens when I start studying the huge lions that bracket rt 144 and Henry Hudson Park in the Cedar Hill area of Bethlehem, NY.  Casual inquiry has found me little (I may have some more names to research than just Guy Park due to a reference here about a Francis Nicoll and the name Barent Winne Rd, referring  to ), but the place always draws me to it.  In one of those rebellious moments I had far more often in my twenties, I ignored the “No Trespassing ” signs that surround the property and walked through the wooded property they guard.  An interesting place.  I wish I’d had a digital camera those days.  (Heck I wish I had a small one that I could always use to catch snapshots of all the nifty things I see in a day.)

At least here I am taking a far more proactive role in my curiosity (I just finished and sent out an email to the Bethlehem Town Historian regarding the place), but this isn’t my norm.  I tend to write snippets, gather friends to show my obsessions to, and daydream.

And with joy and regret, after a morning of scouring pages, I’ve found these pages.

—-  Lost Landmarks of Upstate New York: a collection of pictures and stories of buildings that have been either destroyed (or face imminent destruction) in the area

—-  Old Abandoned Buildings of Northern New York: a complement to a rather nifty page I found a while back when I started looking up the history of the Roma people and got side tracked to a study of Albanian History (which in turn led me to read about King Zog and his home (2) on Long Island).

Sometimes it seems I jump from one thing to another, flitting about like a butterfly in a field of flowers, I like to scan the pages of history.  The truth is that I’m always looking (and finding) connections throughout my journey, linking past and present, and the deeper I look, and the more side trips I take, the more connections I find.

It’s how life seems to work for me; I’m always digging for something I don’t know.


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

Short Stuff

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