Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

A less barbaric more barbaric time

We rose late on Saturday morning and headed to the natatorium, where I walked and drifted in the Lazy River attraction, and then sat in 104 degree water in the spa. I like the part when I walk against the river current, but I can only do that for a finite period of time.

In the afternoon, my wife went to learn how to do the volunteer thing she is doing for the Democratic primary on Tuesday, while I headed over to Allen Station Park, near our home. They have a small nature trail there, which leads to the old railroad dam which is the oldest thing in a young town, dating back to the around the turn of the century.

I hoped to see lots of butterflies, and even thought to myself that I was going on a butterfly watching expedition. In point of fact, through, I saw only two sulphurs, engaged in some communal activity, and one moth. I did see a blooming shrub, surrounded by honeybees. I also saw my first Spring wildflower (although we have had all sorts of "tame" flowers), a purple flower I cannot identify, with a blazing orange/red stamen.

I went to Celebration Park next, the new park they opened last Summer. When I first visited there, I was disappointed that such a huge park had so little "nature trail", having been made mostly into baseball and soccer fields.

Saturday, though, I figured it would be perfect for kite flying. The sky was a perfect blue on top, with tiny borders of clouds along the horizon, a bit like a bedspread.

The wind blew at a strong, north Texas clip. I like that our wind makes kite flying possible nearly 12 months a year. March is a kite month here as in many places, so that kite weather is particularly good. I saw fancy kites in the air--a huge butterfly kite, and one of those kites of geometric shapes, controlled by twin power cords, with an improbably long tail.

I had with me a 99 cent kite from Dollar General,with a picture of two rather ugly aliens in a flying saucer visible across a field of black alternating with mishmashed colors. The kite was a "delta wing" style, which required just putting a center stick in an attaching the string to assemble.

The kite took off from the moment I began to fly it. It went rapidly and steadily up into the sky, playing in the wind. Soon it hovered at the end of the string. I caused it to change its path a bit here and there, but essentially it was 20 minutes of flaw-free, stress-free kite flying. I like that kite flying gives me such a relief from everyday concerns, and yet takes only fifteen to thirty minutes to do.

After I got home, I noticed that my euphorbia has a bloom, a single red flower-like thing. It has never bloomed before, but it looks simply wonderful, a red flower attached to leaves attached to a spiky stalk. All it needs is 100 more blooms, and it would look like a crown of thorns euphorbia.

We headed for an early dinner at Austin Avenue Grill, a sports bar that I had heard nonetheless served good food. I had a perfectly credible French dip, while my wife enjoyed her chicken fajitas. We watched Kansas State upset Texas on the television, which, despite the fact that my wife is from Kansas and we live in Texas, made zero impression upon us.

We killed time before the movie by going to the "Under 5 Dollars" remaindered book store. I got a novel by Emma Bull, a very posh book on "Aquarium Style" and "The Book of Zines".
The whole set cost fifteen dollars.

"Aquarium Style" is a frightfully colorful book that attempts to suggest integrated, stylish ways to make one's aquarium look au courant. It even suggests "primary fish" and "secondary fish" for the style-conscious fish picker. The style that bemused me most was the "desert style", replete with plastic cacti and sandy-looking fish. The impact of Home and Garden Television upon popular culture cannot be over-emphasized.

I read most of "The Book of Zines" late last night. This 1997 work, subtitled "readings from the fringe", wisely foregoes much analysis and just serves as a kind of greatest hits page from several zines. I was not surprised that of the dozens of publications quoted, I had previously known only of "Bust" and "Ben is Dead". "Ben is Dead" always had going for it the fact that it's editor's nom de plume was "Darby Romeo". No 'zine could ever go unread if edited by someone named Darby Romeo.

After the bookstore, we went to see the movie "Master and Commander: to the Far Side of the World". I had read the Patrick O'Brian "Maturin/Aubrey" naval novels a few years ago, and found them very entertaining. They point out how much more civilized and how much more barbaric life was in that era. Although I generally prefer novels to be literally transcribed, here Peter Weir (one of my favorite commercial directors) elected to take bits of two books and excerpt them into a work which tried to create an atmosphere. This was the right judgment call, as the movie is quite an accomplishment.

We found the movie wonderfully done. Even though it is a violent story, the violence is not the emphasis. Instead, the movie, like the books, tries to show the way in which this particular time and place was so very different from, but related to, our own time. I think often of how much things I take for granted, such as anti-biotics and penicillin, did not exist such a relatively short time (1805) ago.

I thought of how barbaric a time it was in some ways, although then I thought that Pol Pot lived during my own time, and rethought a bit. The Maturin/Aubrey novels could make a number of fine films, and I hope they make a full series of it. The novel renewed my "wish I were a naturalist scientist" longing to go to the Galapagos, but perhaps instead I should learn Collin County, Texas a bit more than I know it.

It's funny to me, a bit, now. I went to a rural-life-obsessed college that did agricultural studies very well. I could have gotten a degree in studying, say, insects, and then gotten a Ph.D in entomology and been some famous ant-obsessed myrmecologists. But when I was 18, that would never, ever have occurred to me to do. Yesterday I did look at a huge fire ant nest, though, and then walked on.

I needed the rest and fun yesterday. I need more rest today. My calves tell me they have walked backwards in the Lazy River.

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