Sunday, May 16, 2010

Before . . . and after . . .

Before . . .

. . . and after:

Happy spring, from Charlie the Dog.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Friday on a cool but sunny mid-May day!

I'm still experimenting with my blog layout and have picked one of my May Day parade photos for now behind the title.

Breathe: a good reminder for the end of an unusually hectic week, no?

Yesterday, which was chilly and rainy, my colleagues and I were helpers at our college Commencement ceremony.  Because of the rain, we were forced to line students up along the basement corridors of Northrup Auditorium, using some ancient practice rooms to get people to fill out their name cards and put on their robes and (for the masters-level grads) their hoods, an archaic bit of velvet and silk that is a bit tricky to get on right (it needs to be pinned in the front if you aren't a male graduate, in which case the loop for your shirt button works; and it needs to be draped right, with the silk side pulled out at the bottom, but not too much).  Helping with the hoods allowed us to give people a bit of a reassuring pat, as they nervously fumbled with their caps and tassels and bobby pins and such.

These adult masters-level graduates were, it seemed, suddenly very young and shaky.  Starting something new, something unknown.  The energy is always amazing at these events.  Something about ceremony touches us deeply.

One young graduate, rushing through at the very last minute, left something precious on the table - a plastic bag with a certificate of cremation and a clay paw print of her recently deceased dog.  We could only speculate that she was bringing the spirit of a beloved long-time companion animal with her through this transition in her life.  Fortunately, the student's name and address was on the package, so I went back to my office after the graduates were safely delivered to the auditorium and hunted down her phone number and e-mail address.  Early today, I got a response - she had gone back hunting for this lost memento, and was pleased that I had kept it safe for her.

I had the sense that there was a story to be told about this beloved pet, but can only speculate about the loss coming right at the point of completing this difficult task of a masters' degree.

May she fare well in her new professional life.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How do you like my new stretchy layout?

I've chosen a new template - I will do some customization of it, but I'm wondering how you like it so far. The main difference is that the main column isn't a fixed width, which allows for bigger photos / slide shows to be embedded.

I think the text font and size are pretty much the same as my old format. Is the text readable enough?

Do I need a photo or design behind the title?

Here's the slide show I couldn't figure out for last year's fourth of July photos (refresh the page to restart the slide show):

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Magical May Day Merriment in Minneapolis

I love my city, though I don't always remember this.  Last weekend was the annual MayDay Parade and Pageant, orchestrated by the Powderhorn Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater.  A community-based event, this is 1970s hippydom come mature, embracing the diversity of the core city.  It is also a renaissance of ancient, earth-based celebrations such as Beltane - modernized to take in contemporary issues and visions.

I'm trying an experiment with putting in a slide show of the parade and the later Powderhorn Park pageant and festival.

Parade first (refresh the page to start the slide show):

Cool! That seems to work!

In the park, it was a festive atmosphere as I threaded my way through the throngs of people, and found a spot on the hillside to watch the pageant. The best view was from high in the tree ahead of us, but I could see what was happening. The drama was more mythic than some years, and less political: the burdened people (coming in with huge rocks on their backs, while the narrators shouted out in Spanish and English all of the negativity that we carry in our heads) were transformed/released by some bird-headed figures, then the forces of nature (river, woods, plains, and sky) along with the Tree of Life, welcomed back the sun - which arrived in a red canoe, paddling to the drumbeats. Before the sun's return, the Tree of Life did a lovely pavane with the figure of death, gave herself in to dying - then was raised anew in her summer splendor.

The rest of the photos are the festival after the pageant, as I moved back through the happy folks, looking at food booths and cause booths and displays on the grass and many, many people. (Again, refresh the page to restart.)

At the end, I walked many blocks to my car (past the flowering yards of the Powderhorn neighborhood) and did a photo of my shadow.

From MayDay Pageant at Powderhorn

A long, and magical day.