Monday, June 30, 2008

Art and a Cyber-Cafe

I've been thinking that I should make a post on how much I like Pre-Raphaelite Art. So, ta da! Ok, let's begin.
The Pre-Raphaelites were very controversial in their time, not for the content nor stories of their works, but because of their attention to detail and untraditional style. Some of them formed a brotherhood and made it a point to create works that had meaning, to study what is natural, and not to follow the rigid teachings of the art schools in that day.
Many of their paintings are stunningly realistic. And I find them to be very romantic. Every Pre-Raphaelite painting (excluding portraits of course) is an allegory, based on a poem, or has a background story to it. I just love art with meaning!

Accolade by Edmund Blair Leighton
I had to put this one first, because this was the painting that first caused me to realize Pre-Raphaelite art. It reminds me of The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson even though nothing like this ever happened in the book. I guess its because that's how I imagined the characters to be in the story.
Feeling Very Undancey by Arthur Rackham
This is more of an illustration than it is a painting. (Its from the book Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. ) I remember checking out old books from the library just because they had illustrations like this one. If the stories were interesting enough I'd read them. But I spent most of my time just staring at the pictures imagining the characters moving. (occasionally I'd imagine myself as one of the characters |^-^|)

Thisbe by John William Waterhouse
This painting is based on the Greek/Roman myth of Pyramus and Thisbe. They loved each other, but their parents did not approve. Their houses were adjoining and in the dividing wall between them was a crack that no one but them had taken notice of. So at a certain time of the day they would whisper through the wall to each other. Eventually they planned to elope. They decided to meet by the white mulberry tree outside of town. She arrived first. But while she was waiting a lion prowled by. She fled so quickly that her veil fell off her head. Pyramus arrived to find the lion tearing at her veil. In anguish he berated himself for not being there to protect her and blamed himself for her death. So under the mulberry tree he plunged his sword into his heart. His blood stained the mulberry tree and seeped into its roots so that the fruit also bore the same color. Thisbe came back to the tree later, not wanting Pyramus to think she had decided not to come. When she noticed Pyramus lying there she realized that he had killed himself for her sake. Wanting to be as brave as he, she followed suit and stabbed herself with the same sword through her heart. They were buried together and even to this day the mulberry tree retains the memory of their love by producing purple berries.

Miranda/ The Tempest by John William Waterhouse
Now this painting is one of my favorites. I actually have it set as the background for my desktop. It is based on Shakespeare's The Tempest. The Duke of Milan, sorcerer Prospero, and his daughter, Miranda, were secretly set adrift in a boat by Prospero's traitorous brother. After being stranded on an island for 12 years Prospero saw his brother's ship sailing in the distance. So he rose up a tempest to run the ship aground. The rest of the story gets very long and complicated. But I can tell you that Prospero and Miranda get a happy ending.

Lady of Shallot by John William Waterhouse
Now, I remember the Lady of Shallot from reading Anne of Green Gables when I was little. But this painting is really based on the poem by Tennyson. Its about a lady under a curse whose been made to spin a web while facing a wall in her lonely castle. She can only view the outside world through a mirror in which she can catch glimpses through the window behind her. One day she sees Sir Lancelot riding by. His appearance affects her so much that she turns to look out at him. This activates her curse. She soon acquires a boat and ascribes her name onto its side. Then she boards it and makes her way down the river to Camelot to Sir Lancelot. However, she dies before she can get there. The people of the city see her floating by. Lancelot also sees her and offers a prayer that grace be given to her. Its a sad poem. I like it. Its romantic. In a sad way. You should read it.

Godspeed/ A Lady's Favor by Edmund Blair Leighton
Another Knight and his lady. This painting looks soft to me. The flowers in the corner, the clothing and drapery, her hair, and the way he looks at her. Its sad and happy at the same time. Happy because you can see how much they both care for each other, and Sad because you know he's going off to fight. Godspeed brave Knight!

Dolce Far Niente by John William Godward
The title is Italian for "pleasing inactivity." This originated from the phrase, "it is sweet to do nothing." She makes the floor look comfortable. This painting makes me want to grab a furry rug and take a nap on the floor. It also makes me want to have a comfy billowing dress to wear while I do it. (And that's saying a lot because I don't like to sleep in the daytime and I don't usually find dresses very comfortable.)

Danae by John William Waterhouse
I like this painting because it is part of one of my favorite mythology stories. Danae was a princess. Her father, the king wanted a son so he consulted an oracle. The oracle told him that he'd be killed by his daughter's son. He locked his daughter in a tower to prevent this. But She had a baby boy anyways by Zeus. The king found out. Because he was afraid to anger the gods by killing her, he had her and the baby thrown into the sea in a wooden chest. (I guess this way the blame would have been put on Poseidon for letting her drown.) But Poseidon didn't let them drown. They were taken in by another Grecian king.
That's not the part I like, though. I like the story of Danae's son, Perseus, life. He is the one who killed the evil Medusa and rescued Andromeda from a sea-monster. Perseus flew to Andromeda with the winged sandals that the gods had given him. He, then, freed her from the chains that bound her to the rock (she was given as a sacrifice) and married her. Then Perseus fulfilled the prophesy of the oracle and used Medusa's head to turn his grandfather and co. into stone. This is also one of the few Greek mythology stories in which the husband and wife live the rest of their lives faithfully and peacefully together with their children. Viva la happy ending!!

After the Dance by John William Waterhouse
This painting also makes the floor look like a comfortable place to rest (even without the furry rug! I guess I have a thing for paintings with this kind of occurrence). It's a fairly mundane scene, yet the way it is presented makes it seem worthy of be noted.
Ending on that note, I'm going to try this out. It will have to wait until I get home, though. I'm at a University right now with Yavanna for her orientation. I volunteered to come with her because both my parents have to take both my brothers to their baseball commitments (they both made the all-stars!! Yeah! Go my brothers!). I could try the floor out right here in this Gigantic library, but I don't want to look like a bum. And the floor here smells bad anyways.
I wonder if anyone who read this post and looked at the paintings will have the same compelling curiosity as I do about the floor being comfy. I wonder if anyone will actually try it.....

P.S. If you're wondering how I can do this during a college orientation, please let me explain. Early on in the day they separated students from the parents for different "orientation sessions." Although, technically I am a student, I am not a student here. So I stayed behind with the "parents and family." I proceeded to figure I am not a parent, this is not mandatory even for the parents, I know this stuff already, so do Mom and Dad. So I ditched the rest of the sessions. I wandered around campus for a while, but it was really hot. So I stopped and acquired a free lunch (YESSS!! I love free food. Especially when its Subway!). Then I made my way here to the library which, by the way, has a cyber-cafe. I really like the little red light that's hanging over my table/head right now. It's so cyber-cafe-ish. Ok, I better end this post right now before I ramble anymore nonsense out of bordem.
I'll let you know how the "floor test" goes when I get around to it. Until next time, see ya.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Before the Storm......

I have finally planted my pineapples. I've had them in mason jars on top of our fridge since February. Please let me explain. I guess I should start from the beginning. At the end of January/ beginning of February (I'm not really certain at this point.) We bought a pineapple. We ate the pine apple. I read about how the left over tops of pineapples, which are called pineapple tops, (hehe, go figure) can be replanted and raised to bear fruit. "This is cool," I thought. So I researched it online some more. Then I prepared the pineapple top and set it in a mason jar. My little brother, Tulkas, and I had some fun with it and decorated to outside of the jar like sponge Bob's house. I set it on the fridge because it got too cold by the window. The only place in the house where I was sure the temperature would be fairly moderate was the top of the fridge. So that's where I put it.
I had absolutely no idea what this little "experiment/project" of mine would start. In mid February a couple from my church got married. And their fruit platter consisted mostly of freshly cut pineapples. After the reception ended we helped clean up and set everything back in order. The next thing I know, Mom is coming out the kitchen door with two plastic bags bulging with pineapple tops. The next day the top of our fridge was covered with spiky green hair (aka: a forest of pineapples was born).
Now it is recommended to keep them in jars filled with water for 3 to 4 weeks. Yeah......*pause*......yeah (maybe that's why only a few survived). The "cold spells" lasted longer than usual this year, so I couldn't plant them during my Spring Break. I had school until the first week of May. Then I was working on a graduation movie/slide show for my younger sister Yavanna. Then I was working on an anniversary movie for my parents. (Which, by the way, took forever because none of the pictures were in order. My hair is somewhat thinner because of that.) And now , as of yesterday, they are outside in a nice, neat, semi-straight row.

I am going to have to be very patient, though. It takes 2 1/2 to 3 years for each plant to produce fruit. I hope they survive in this harsh place. It's been raining pretty consistently lately, so I was feeling hopeful. That was, until I heard today's forecast: severe thunderstorms, heavy rain, and strong winds. "My poor little pineapples will be washed away," was my first thought. I planted them firmly, but I was worried about the soil in the row eroding away around them. So I went outside to get some pictures just in case I never see them again (this was during the half time of the Germany vs. Turkey game). It was already very windy. I couldn't even find a decent tarp anywhere to protect them with.
Then I looked back over my shoulder in the direction from which the storm was coming. There were some very dark clouds in the distance. It actually looked very beautiful. But I went inside (Didn't want to miss the game.) However, the game hadn't started yet. So I figured, why not? I went back out to get some pictures.

Directly over me the clouds where puffy and white. All the while off in the distance they were a deep dark blue. Now, it is very rare on our little bit of land to have flowers. let me correct myself: it is rare for us to have pretty flowers. Usually the only kind of flowers we have are those that grow on the pesky cacti that pop up out of nowhere. So I was surprised to find these cute little white flowers near our house.

As I have mentioned before, I really like flowers. So I took quite a few pictures. It was very windy out, so many of them did not turn out at all. Later on I adjusted the color levels in the GIMP (kinda like photoshop but free). It was fun and I got carried away. But anyway, back to the pictures.

This one has to be my favorite. I didn't have to do much adjusting to this picture. I like the way the flowers face towards the light. Even little weeds can give us life lessons.

The second time I went out my brother Eärendil had also gone out to feed Shadowfax and Bill. Whenever Eärendil goes out to feed the animals he takes Sam (our golden retriever) out with him. Well, Sam got into several of my pictures unintentionally (although I think he does those things on purpose sometimes). But this picture was very intentional. When he had finished making guest appearances in my shots he decided to lay down behind the house and peacefully wait for me to go in. I was about to call him over when I realized: Wait, this is a Kodak moment or whatever. I should take it. So I did. And here is our faithful Sam lying down in our grass-that-needs-to-be-cut, completely untroubled by the approaching storm. He just sat there the whole time enjoying each gust of wind as it came by. Oh, another life lesson. Write that down. (Sorry, I just watched A Blast From the Past.)
Then my battery died. This was God's way of telling me, "Hey, the game's about to start." So I called Sam over and headed for the house. Eärendil had already gone back in. When I got to the door I found that he had also "accidentally" locked me out.....again. So I knocked. And knocked. I know they can hear me, I thought. They're probably on the other side laughing at me for letting this happen again. After a while Tulkas opened the door and said, in a very serious, flat voice, "I didn't do it."
But it was all okay. I didn't miss any of the game. Huzzah!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Little Wave Riders

This week we had Vacation Bible School at our church. The theme this year is Outrigger Island: Living God's Unshakeable Truth. For the past few years I have been with the four-year-olds (its actually 4 and 5 year olds). So I was with them again this year. And boy was it interesting! We have always had a huge 4 year old class. So this year they decided to have two 4 year old classes: the North Shore class and the South Shore class. Everyday we had at least 21 in our South Shore class. The North Shore had a big group also, but I wasn't in that group. So I don't know their numbers.
Well, needless to say, those little ones kept us quite busy. I had been bringing my camera throughout the week, but I didn't actually get any chances to take pictures until today. There are so many stories that I could tell you about these little "wave riders," but let me put out some pictures first.

Here is most of the South Shore class. It was so hard to get good pictures of these little ones. They are always on the move! And I wonder sometimes. During the lesson some of them would seem not to be paying attention. But when Mrs. Teacher would ask questions about what she just taught they would answer in a heartbeat!

But these two boys were good. They sat still (for the most part) and payed attention.
If you're wondering about all the little green t-shirts at this point let me explain. At VBS in the past, each child would get a name tag. Now, this was an especially trying thing in the 4 year old class, because they would constantly twirl them around, get them knotted up, tear them off, and even chew on them or eat them (Don't ask, because I haven't even the slightest clue as to why they would do that. How can they be so picky about their snack and drinks, and yet have no problem consuming a dry piece of card stock that smells like permanent marker?). We were constantly patching them up with tape or making new ones. But this year a Genius Godsend came up with the idea to give the little ones t-shirts with their names on them. We didn't even have to worry about them bringing their own shirts for the "t-shirt making craft day." And the best part is I didn't see any of them trying to eat it.

See little ones? Those who behave come out looking very nice in the pictures. I'm so proud of these little ones. They didn't even get any of that ice cream on their shirts.

I am so glad this shot turned out. Ah, little boys being little boys. Creek (the one with the tongue) is always joking around while Cale (the one with the look) is always so serious. The little ones with the yellow shirts are from the North Shore class. This way it was easier to tell them apart, as we did a lot of the activities together.

Now, I know this little one was not in my class, but he was so cute! He saw me taking pictures so he gave me this little smile. It took me a while to realize that he was posing for a picture. So I gladly took one and gave him a thumbs up.
Ok, one last story (I am missing the Croatia vs. Turkey game). And this one is my favorite out of all the little stories I've come to accumulate over the years. The other day our lesson was about Jeremiah and how he prayed to God to ask him for help. After Mrs. Teacher had finished the story and questions she gave each little wave rider a chance to come up and say their own little prayer. Just about every one of them had gone up to say their prayer when little Bri raised his hand. He went up and prayed for his mom, and dad, and the little baby that was coming soon. When he sat down Mrs. Helper (another one of the teachers) said, " Oh yes, Mrs. Teacher. We need to remember to pray for Bri's mom. She's having some heart problems. And with the pregnancy and all we need to remember to pray for her."
While the teachers were all commenting on this another little one who had already prayed, Val, raised her hand. "I want to pray. I want to pray again," she said. "I want to pray for Bri's mom." Now this amazed me. Val is a very soft spoken little girl. She went up there and prayed for God to protect Bri's mom, and for God to give her what she needs, and for God to help the little baby and give the little baby what he needs. Now, I know I shouldn't say this because it can't be true, but if I didn't know any better, I'd say that was a perfect prayer. It was a short little prayer with a simple vocabulary from a little 4 year old girl, yet it had a certain eloquence and strength from a fresh and sincere little heart. Everyone felt it, even the little ones remained quiet after she finished. "Now that," said Mrs. Teacher. "gave me goosebumps."

"Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength,"

And its true. Every once-in-a-while a little one will do or say something that really humbles me or causes me to think. Sometimes they may even be able to comprehend something better because of the way they think. Their thought process is very different from the thought process of "us grown-ups." We can always learn a thing or two from the little ones. Jesus said so himself in Matthew 18:4 and in Mark 10:15. That is one of the reasons I like to work with this particular age group in VBS.

"Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." -Matthew 18:4