Aug 19

Pedal pedal pedal

We had a nice bike ride this evening. Part of the ride was the regular basic route, through the neighborhood that has it’s own private Fourth of July parade that we’ll see one day, through the roads surrounded by corn fields, into the giant subdivision where I always see the same lady running, then over a small, but respectable, hill that would take you to the ice cream shop, which is a turnaround spot. Back over that hill from the other direction, which is a little shorter and sharper, then through the outskirts of two or three other little random subdivisions that aren’t especially distinct.

This takes you to a road that ends in a T-intersection. And, like all T-intersections, the only important things are the stop sign and where each direction will send you. If you turn left, as we usually do, you go about four miles down the road to the water treatment plant, the lake and a turnaround.

Let me just tell you: today we turned right.

We were on this road named after an ancient local family. They’d come to Bloomington from South Carolina — the first of their children was born here in 1837, just 12 years after the city was incorporated — and their ancestors had come over from Ireland before the American Revolution. That first kid, William, grew up to be a Presbyterian minister. He graduated from theological school, got a job and got married all during the first month of the Civil War. He worked in Illinois and Ohio, had five kids, lost his wife, got remarried, took on a church in Iowa, then moved to South Dakota in the 1880s and farmed and preached there until his health took a turn. He would move back to Ohio, where he died in 1916. About the time that William left Iowa, his younger brother David, the second son born here, moved to Florida to grow oranges, which makes sense. I looked up the family name, and there are still some of that family in town today.

We weren’t on that road for as long as it took me to look all that up. But there was time enough there for you to read that paragraph before we turned left onto a road named after a village that isn’t there anymore. The post office there, says the Wikipedia stub, was closed in 1904. Just down the road, at the manmade lake, there’s a beach that bears the name, but otherwise you’d never know of the place. And anyway, it’s a quick right-hander onto a road named after a thriving local family farm. They raise free range things, all organic groups. Anyway, the road they are on gives you views like this:

This is a road we’ve ridden before, but not recently, and it was a scenic treat, which was followed by a less interesting road named after another family that moved here in the town’s earliest days. I supposed that’s the way it is with roads and other named features. They have to be called something, and, Hey, you’re a family has been here forever and there’s still a lot of you around, so you’re it.

Maybe that’s a downside to being a Smith. You never know if this thing was named after your people or not. (Nothing has been named after my people, of this I am fairly sure.) But that’s an upside to being a Smith, too: I get to claim them all.

Anyway, it was a 25-mile ride, with a lot more negative splits than positive ones. It was a fine evening, and a delightful part of the day.

Aug 19

‘that only make me lay it down more careful-like’

There’s a certain joy to getting home in time, leaving again right away and somehow that being nine minutes late and yet still getting a good shot to extended parking, an easy parking place, a timely shuttle to the airport, a pleasant conversation with two people going on a cruise and a quick bite to eat, before a relatively decent TSA experience and then finding yourself at the gate before your plane arrives.

There’s a certain joy to hearing a gate agent who has no optimism at all. “This flight hasn’t been canceled yet.” There’s a certain resigned humor to hearing of a delay, knowing there’s no plane at the end of that jetway, or weather between here and that plane and knowing this is going on for a while, a run-on sentence of gate announcements that continue to portend this flight will be boarding in 15 minutes, now 45, and it isn’t canceled yet, until it is.

But who cares about that? There’s always a flight tomorrow. We’re booked on it. Because we were nine minutes leaving the house, but still had a good trip up to the airport, we could linger over food in the concourse. And because I got a refill at Chick-fil-A, by the time I got down the terminal all of the seats at the gate were taken. So we sat at an empty gate across the way, on the other side the slidewalk, but next to this cool installation:

Mari Evans wrote, in about 1992, Celebration. She was a writer, a teacher, a television producer. And the words she could write, the feelings she could bring out of you … She taught African American Literature at Indiana, and she could do some stuff with just an incomplete phrase that could pull you this way and that. It’s no wonder she taught people how to use the language, for she was a masterful user of it, indeed.

The poem Celebration was about people who were flawed and perfect and who had been through some stuff:

I will bring you a whole person
and you will bring me a whole person
and we will have us twice as much of love and everything

I be bringing a whole heart
and while it do have nicks and
dents and scars,
that only make me lay it down
more careful-like
An; you be bringing a whole heart
a little chipped and rusty an’
sometime skip a beat but
still an’ all you bringing polish too
and look like you intend
to make it shine

And we be bringing, each of us
the music of ourselves to wrap
the other in

Forgiving clarities
Soft as a choir’s last
lingering note our
personal blend

I will be bringing you someone whole
and you will be bringing me someone whole
and we be twice as strong and we be twice as true
and we will have twice as much of love
and everything

I discovered her because of this mural in Indianapolis:

It was unveiled in 1996, and she got to see it, at the age of 97, just under a year before she passed away. And while I haven’t yet read everything she published, everything I’ve read has been a joy.

The Celebration installation, above, is by British artist Martin Donlin. He produced 14 large, abstract glass murals at the airport, featuring contemporary Indiana poets and authors. These are hand-blown glass, almost 2,400 panes over the whole project, each pane weighing about 400 pounds.

If we hadn’t been a little late, but had a plane that was later, we might not have sat there, and I might not have seen it, across the way as it was.

There’s a certain joy to this. A certain restless, tired, hopeful joy to that.

As we were leaving the airport, for home, there was a rainbow off to the east. And it stayed out there all the way back to the house. We watched the same rainbow for 52 miles:

We’ll go back to the airport tomorrow, but this evening:

We’ll sleep in — until 6 a.m., at best! — and then make the quick drive for a quick flight into a quick weekend will begin. But! To have this for an hour!

View this post on Instagram

Got a little rainbow in my eye …

A post shared by Kenny Smith (@kennydsmith) on

There’s a certain joy to that.

Aug 19

There’s math below; assume I got the (n) and (r) correct

Another evening ride with my bride was the highlight of my day. We were out just long enough to get the heart rate up and the perspiration perspiring. No motorists were foolish, the sun was out, my legs were sluggish, some of the other cyclists actually waved back for a change. It was easily the highlight of the day.

On the way back to the house, two neighborhoods before ours, I tried an attack off the left side of the road. You can see just before it started here:

Farther away, maybe she won’t hear me or see me until it is too late. I think she heard my derailleur click, took two hard downstrokes on her right pedal and that was the end of my attack.

The other highlight of my day was giving a tour for someone. So, yes, let us talk more about the bike ride, shall we!?

Living near a creek bed, as we do, you’re always starting your ride going uphill. You must pedal up and out of the intersection. And then, depending where you are going, some actual hills may come into play. These aren’t mountains, by any means, but they may as well be to me. The one “big” hill we climbed today I had to spin up through my small crank today. Some days I go up that same hill in my smallest gear and continue accelerating over the top. Not today. But still, an average ride is better than no ride at all. And a poor ride, well, that might be the best of all, because maybe you stunk it up and really suffered out there, but you still got it in.

Do you know how many times I’ve told myself that, huffing and puffing over the headset of my bicycle. I’ve gotten that whole speech down to one sentence this year.

But, still, a nice ride.

Elsewhere, today, let’s see. I did some behind-the-scenes organizing of things on the website. You won’t care about any of those, but there were some pages section needed cleaning up. It was a today and tomorrow project.

Also today, I added seven new banners to the top and bottom of the blog. You see different ones each time you visit, or every time you refresh, of course. But I keep adding to them. Today there are 100 banners for the top of the page and 101 for the bottom. So with two randomized images per page and 201 possible choices, you have something like 20,301 different combinations of the different photographs you can see surrounding all of this brilliant text. I probably did that wrong. Later tonight someone will come along and point out the error which left an order of magnitude off base.

Anyway, to keep it neat, while adding seven new ones today I also removed seven other banners which were less relevant or otherwise irksome. That simple right-click-delete-I’m-sure-yes-I’m-sure-no-really-quite-postive-indeed-I-promise-is-me-not-you-just-delete-them-already action reduced the combinations by about 1,400 choices or so. You’re welcome, Citizen of the ‘Net.

There are a lot of things to clean up on the site, but they won’t all be done today. There are at least always about a half dozen things to do around here. And they’ll all keep so long as the weather does. I wouldn’t ordinarily bore you with the details – most of them for archival purposes anyway – but it just didn’t feel right having a stat like 20,301 and not sharing it.

Anyway, here’s one of the new header banners you will occasionally run across:

Even upon reflection that remains one of my favorite photos of our summer vacation.

Tomorrow, another bike ride! And the Adventure of the Five Shirts! (If, in fact, that is an adventure. It is tomorrow and hasn’t happened yet, so it is difficult to say.)

Jul 19

Things which grow

Please enjoy photos of these lovely growing things on campus and around town. This first one is growing not too far from my office. It is called the Casa Blanca Lilium, an oriental hybrid lily. The texture on the petals is a beautiful thing. They’re pretty easy to grow and lovely to look at, aren’t they?

How do you feel about the Acer palmatum? Commonly called the Japanese maple or, as I just learned the red emperor maple, they can be shrubs or small trees. I suppose that has to do with its care, being pruned or out in habitat. This one is found in a well-manicured flower garden at a downtown church:

Cultivated for forever in Japan, Korea and China, they started spreading around the world in the 19th century. There are three subspecies and dozens of cultivars. Maples on the seas.

Here’s the Phlox maculata:

It’s a perennial, indigenous to the eastern United States and now also growing in Canada. Or maybe you’re more interested in the bee. That, of course, is your common bumblebee, one of the 250-plus members of the Bombus genus, about four dozen or so are in the U.S. Don’t ask me which one this one is from, we aren’t that close.

He was a pretty fair model, though.

Those aren’t bad, I’d say, for cell phone photos.

Jul 19

Catching up on pictures

Those first few days, or hours or minutes, back, you always have to catch up on things. Email, mail voicemail, mail mail, memos, procedures, whatever it is. Sometimes it takes longer than others. I got lucky this time, and by running through vacation photos and videos for so long that stretched out the whole trip in my mind a bit. Why, yes, those seven days did turn into two-and-a-half weeks somehow.

We were promised some other photos, too. If those come through, we’re going right back into the old vacation by way of memory.

Until then, though, we’re back here. And in this space we must fill our time with something. Today and tomorrow, are a few things that I’ve drifted through while still on island time.

This is a parking deck on campus. Masons have been reworking the brick and it looks like they are coming to the end of this particular project:

It would have been weird if I’d stood there and watched that all day, but the light and water droplets dancing around were rather mesmerizing. I just saw it at the right time of day.

Unfortunately, the timing was wrong on this. No matter how much I bent, leaned or twisted I couldn’t get them all in, or keep the sun out. But they’re keeping the sun out. And if you need a visor, you go with something classy like this:

“Thank you for being a — ” BUNNY!

Some time ago I picked up this old poster of the county. It’s a print of the way things were in 1856. I finally put it up in my tiny little office and give it a glance every now and then. Now, these people aren’t my people, but it is interesting to see the names of some of these land owners who are now just road signs to most weary commuters. My uncle worked with a man from here and that man’s family name is on this map, showing the plots of land his ancestors owned once upon a time.

The whole thing shows land owners names, first and last. And I’ve been able to pick out a few important ones. These people sold a key parcel to the university, for example, and that man was the local director on the Underground Railroad, such as it was through here. I spent some time trying to discern exactly where our modern house is. There is one road that, if it hasn’t moved in 170 years, helps get you close. But the waterways aren’t terribly accurate on the map. Finally I figured it out, and I know the name of the man that owned the land and I think I found out where he’s buried, too. Again, not my people, but still somewhat interesting.

One thing I’m struck by, when I stare at that map: there aren’t enough people named Enoch anymore. It stems from a Hebrew word which means dedicated.

One of my great-great-grandfathers was also named Enoch. He was born 15 years after that map was drawn, and lived in a different place entirely. Neither place has enough kids named Enoch these days. It sounds like the strongest, sturdiest word in the world. Just say it out loud a few times.