Saturday, October 19, 2013

Surrealism at Bargain Prices

After a recent trip to Spain, and the Salvador Dali Museum, I am very aware that “The Dali’s” work has appreciated enormously  in value over the years. I am sure that one of his original paintings featuring his signature melting clock would be worth far, far more than I could possibly afford.

My wife and I arrived at the local Ross (Dress for Less), looking for clocks, decorations for the upcoming H.G. Wells “Time Machine” meeting of our book club. We were following up on a tip from a friend that this clothing emporium has clocks for sale. Trying my best to make myself intelligible to the young clerk we first encountered at the check-out counter, I said, “Do you have any, like, clocks?”

The clerk caught on to my perfectly inflected dialect right away. With no hesitation, she  pointed her thumb at the rear of the store. “They’re on the back wall”, she said. Sure enough, after the long walk to the back of the store,  we found some “like, clocks”. Unbelievably, one  was a reproduction of the Dali melting clock, featured in many of the Dali’s Surrealist paintings I’d just seen in Spain. It was available for  the surreal Great Recession price of less than $20. This like totally blew my mind, man!  A Dali melting clock that actually keeps time for under twenty bucks! The clock melted off the wall and into my aging, melting cell structure. Treasuring this great “Time Machine” oriented decorative find, we started for the front of the store, my wife and I incredulous at finding Art for Less at “Dress for Less”.

Now, you may not know that there is a Hindu Deity department at the Dress for Less  store. I, for one, certainly had no clue that a place like this has a Hindu Deity department. We sort of wandered into it, a corporate version of a “head shop” on two well hidden shelves. There I discovered a statue of Ganesha for less than $15.  Dali and Ganesha in one place, and  “Ganesh for Lesh” to boot!

“ Hello, Miss. Do you have any like, Hindu Deities, and, like,  Dali Surrealist melting clocks for less than twenty bucks?”

 “Like,who doesn’t, sir? They’re on the back wall.”

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Jealous Chicken

Our kindly chicken father, who lives nearby, his name is Jim. It was Jim who awakened us to the news one day that one of our flock, Miss Frizzle, was not herself. Jim said he thought she was egg blocked.

A quick chicken browser action informed us that egg block is a serious condition that can also halt the progress of elimination and eventually lead to the demise of the chicken. We were concerned.

The web also informed us that some symptoms of egg block are that the chicken imitates a penguin, waddling in an almost upright position instead of the usual chicken walk. The egg blocked chicken has no appetite and does not socialize with the flock. She holds her tail feathers down instead of the usual perky upright position. In addition, It may be possible to find the unlaid egg in the chicken by feeling around her abdomen, or you might feel some shell of an egg that has broken inside. We actually did this with the help of our friend, Anne, and couldn’t feel any of these things.

A few remedies were offered, and we chose the one that looked most attractive to those like us with limited chicken experience and lots of empathy and personal involvement with a stricken chicken.

Here is the remedy:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Peacemaker Chicken

In our flock of eight beautiful chickens, all named, and all loved for their unique personalities, we have a mille fleur, a truly beautiful chicken whose mottled colors, diminutive size, and human friendly nature made her a favorite with us right away. We have named her “mini me” for her size. She loves to be talked to and will stay in your presence as if eager to hold up her end of the conversation. She loves to be picked up and have her neck and comb stroked, and she will sit on your lap and read a book with you if you just ask her.

But Mini also has another side to her nature. Though the smallest chicken in the flock by far, she is also the most aggressive with the other birds. She will peck them, pull their feathers, and chase them around the yard and do this repeatedly to another chicken she has picked out for this treatment. It can get so bad that the other chickens will pile up in one corner of the coop, making one large protective mass of chicken to protect themselves from Mini.

This behavior is particularly notable when Mini is “broody” as her breed tends to be. During her broody times, Mini will sit in a nesting box on any eggs, her own or those of other chickens, that may have accumulated there. She will not leave the nesting box or the coop, making it difficult for other chickens who may want to use that nesting box. The whole time she makes her “broody” noises that warn the others away.

There is one chicken that Mini never pecks. She never pulls her feathers or chases her around the yard. This is Greybeard, one of the largest of the hens and certainly the calmest. Greybeard comes over to speak with me when I enter the chicken coop. She keeps up a steady stream of calming noises that make me glad to share a chicken coop with her. Greybeard is not a flirt, but she does offer from time to time, by her position and her demeanor, that if I want to rub her back, then that’s quite all right with her. It is very easy to be around Greybeard.

Greybeard’s unique solution to Mini’s broody ways is to stay close to her in such a unique way that it was startling when I first saw it. The nesting boxes are large enough to accommodate one egg laying chicken comfortably but with little room to spare. Greybeard not only approaches Mini when she is broody in a nesting box, she actually enters the box with her and sits with her, crowding her big chicken body in there almost on top of Mini. Mini puts up no fuss, does not object in any way, stops making broody noises, and remains calm. It is Tao-tally amazing.

I am happy to report that Mini eventually leaves off her broody periods, allowing the chicken coop to return to normal. Meanwhile we are so fortunate to have Greybeard the Buddha Bird among us.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Collapse of Everything

Went to a planetarium show on black holes recently in which we learned that super-large and massive stars collapse and become stellar black holes. At the end of the show, there was a light-show representing the possibility of going through a stellar black hole at just the correct angle and  emerging from it in another universe, another place and another when.

At the center of our galaxy is a super massive black hole. It was never stated at the show what might have collapsed to form this super massive black hole, only that it is there. It appears there is such a black hole at the center of our galaxy, of every galaxy.

I am left with a few questions:

What has collapsed to produce these super massive black holes? What is it about galaxy formation and on going galactic processes that requires them?

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Day In Venice

    One day during our trip to Venice, Italy, we visited the Frari, a grand church indeed. Among its treasures are two paintings by Titian, “The Assumption of the Virgin”, and the “Pesaro Altar Piece”. Rick Steves, in his guide book, points out that the Earthly portion of the “Pesaro Altar Piece” prominently features the contemporary family of Titian’s patrons. Including their patrons in religious works was the common practice of painters at the time. One of Rick Steve’s tongue in cheek observations is that the men in the family all sport 5 o’clock shadows, easily seen in the painting.

    Speaking of 5 o’clock shadows, when I was a kid my Italian band director always had a 5 o’clock shadow, even at 10 am Saturday morning when the rehearsal started at a prestigious high school. During one rehearsal he became so incensed at our playing that he jumped off his stool and crashed down onto the floor with a thud that shook the entire building. This was the result of the floor being struck by the foot-to-hip cast that kept his broken leg immobilized at the time. With all of the band director’s weight on it, that cast hit like the hammer of Thor! But not only did our conductor survive this maneuver with his broken leg, he then proceeded to throw his baton into the  clarinet section, an act of amazing balance and precision, given his severely broken leg and foot. All this at 10 in the morning.