Molly Stark

It’s been almost a year since I snapped this shot of the Molly Stark monument along Route 9 in Wilmington, Vermont, but Janice Brown‘s recent post on New Hampshire patriots got me thinking. Why is it that the maker of this monument chose to depict Molly with an infant in one arm and a long-arm in the other? Although Molly is rightfully hailed as being one of our Founding Mothers, she’s not remembered for firing a single shot or even lifting a musket (unless to hand it to her husband) during the Revolutionary War. Instead, Molly Stark is remembered for being the wife and mother that General John Stark–author of NH’s beloved “Live free or die” motto–left behind to tend house and children while he went off to fight the Red Coats.

Molly Stark

Although I respect any woman’s right to bear arms if she so chooses, the sight of Molly posed as Madonna with musket makes me wonder. Isn’t single-handedly managing a household with eleven children while your husband is away being a war hero enough to earn you a monument without someone feeling the need to slap a firearm in your hand? With eleven children to tend to, how would Molly have found a spare moment for musketry? As if tending her own household wasn’t enough, Molly Stark is known for nursing her husband’s troops during a smallpox epidemic, turning their already crowded house into a makeshift hospital for ailing soldiers. Wouldn’t a more accurate depiction of Molly’s status as a Revolutionary War heroine show her with an infant in one arm and a load of laundry in the other: Molly Stark, America’s first lady of first aid?

War memorial

New England towns have a fondness for soldier statues: right down the road from Molly Stark stands an armed, unnamed soldier erected “In Memory of Our Country’s Defenders.” Obviously we Americans wouldn’t have an Independence Day to celebrate if it weren’t for the patriots who literally took up arms in our nation’s defense…but aren’t there other ways to defend our country? In her post, Janice suggests our definition of “patriot” is too confined, for it should include anyone “who works toward the prosperity, order, justice, peace and liberty of their country, despite adverse conditions and danger to their personal safety.” According to this definition, Molly Stark didn’t have to shoulder a gun to become a patriot; instead, she served her country by shouldering the burden of tending the home fires during her husband’s absence and by risking her own and her family’s health by wiping the fevered brows of smallpox-infected soldiers. Are we as a country ready, though, to erect patriotic monuments to housewives, daycare workers, and health-care providers? Would a statue of Molly Stark wielding a bedpan look as impressively patriotic as Molly with her gun?

I wonder what Hannah Dustin with her axe and Molly Stark with her gun would say to one another if they met in heaven. Would both women marvel at how they were hailed as heroines only after their lives as ordinary wives and mothers turned violent? Why does it take a bloody kidnapping or wartime threat of widowhood to make a married mother monumental? Are we so enamored with the arms we have the right to bear, we have no respect for those who defend us unarmed?

Windmills near cemetery

Opponents of wind power often argue that ridge-top windmills are an intrusive eyesore, an obvious sign of human encroachment in an otherwise natural landscape. This past Saturday, on my way to watch the Keene Swamp Bats play (and lose) a ballgame in Rachel‘s neck of the woods, I passed a roadside cemetery along a sleepy stretch of Vermont’s Route 8 where inhabitants weren’t visibly bothered by this artificial impediment to their eternal view.

Town Hall and Offices

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about views and The View…not the daytime TV show, but The View of my world that I share via this blog. When I started keeping a blog back in December, 2003, I didn’t post photos; instead, I started Hoarded Ordinaries as a place to showcase my writing. At the time, I started blogging with a vague notion of making HO a “place blog”: an online site concentrating on sites and what it means to be “sited” in a particular place. Somewhere along the way, my focus on “sited-ness” became a fixation with sight: an attempt to show you, in word and image, what it’s like to be Where I’m At on any given day or at any given moment.

And there’s certainly not anything wrong with any of that, but…

A handful of posts around the blogosphere (as well as the natural ebb and flow of my own life) have led me to question my vague notions of what I’m doing with this blog and The View it offers. Over on Via Negativa, a blog which began right around the time HO did, Dave recently remarked about the difference (or lack thereof) between blogs and the mainstream media:

The blogosphere has been billed as an alternative to the mainstream media, but in many ways, it�s just as superficial. The emphasis remains on speed rather than accuracy, sensationalism rather than nuance, and two-sided conflicts rather than the full complexity of life as most of us experience it in our daily lives. Even for us non-political bloggers, there�s a great temptation to simply post our latest snapshots, with a few accompanying sentences of breathless prose, and move on to something else. To try to see anything more fully, to observe it attentively and then take the time to describe or depict it with as much care and effort as we can muster seems almost counter-cultural. But if the bloggers I tend to read have anything in common, it might be precisely this, that they are dedicated to documenting what Barbara Brown Taylor refers to as �alternate reality.�

The sentence that hit painfully close to home was Dave’s observation about “us non-political bloggers” and our occasional over-reliance on form rather than content. It’s quick & easy to slap up a snapshot and say “I’m done blogging for the day”; it takes a bit more time, care, and attention to detail to craft a meaningful post that actually says something.

Village Pub

In my early days of photo-blogging, I justified my “quickie” photo posts by telling myself they were like postcards: although we all love to receive long, carefully-crafted letters, it’s also great to get short postcards that assure us “The weather is great; wish you were here.” In my mind, a frequently updated blog is more valuable than one that only occasionally posts new (albeit carefully crafted) material: in the blogosphere, frequent snacking seems to be “healthier” (and more popular with readers) than the bloggish equivalent of occasional elaborate feasts.

In skimming my recent posts, though, it bugs me that I’ve been heavily relying upon postcards more than letters: now that it’s summer, I tell myself, I “should” be writing longer and more “meaty” posts. That I have the time to write but largely haven’t been suggests to me at least that there’s something else going on: why is it, for instance, that I’m dragging my feet when it comes to returning to my writing blog and am completely inert and lifeless when it comes to my meditation blog?

1938 flood level

Blogs, like lives, have a natural ebb and flow, surging to unanticipated high-points at some moments and shrinking to shocking shallows at others. Just this week, Annette announced she was pulling the plug on her award-winning personal blog–a site that’s about four months older than mine–in order to focus her offline time on a PhD and her online energy to a business blog. It strikes me (and others) that three years marks a kind of turning point in many bloggish lifespans: after three years of faithful posting, you’ve presumably found your voice and are starting to ask “what next?”

Fish on the menu

As if Dave and Annette didn’t already give me enough to think about, the calendar is giving its own sort of nudge: this weekend is the Progressive Faith Blog Con down in New Jersey, where I’m scheduled to lead a Saturday morning meditation service and break-out sessions on the Buddhist blogosphere and blogging meditation. Although I’ve plenty of experience leading meditation sessions, the thought of mixing and mingling with folks who actively blog their religious convictions has me a bit stymied: as I’ve discussed before, Hoarded Ordinaries isn’t an explicitly “Buddhist” blog even though, yes, I’m an actual Zen teacher with all the qualifications to make it so.

Manyu's Boutique Ltd.

Today Rachel blogged about ministry, that sense that we’ve found the One Thing (or perhaps a patchwork of things) we were put on this planet to do. I guess what I’m currently grappling with–or continuing to grapple with–is the question, “What is my ministry?” We Zennies don’t talk much about “ministry,” but we occasionally talk about Right Action, Right Livelihood, and the Right Direction that leads us to ask “How can I help this suffering world?”

In the time since I disbanded the Zen group my ex-husband and I used to lead, I’ve been sitting with a specific question: what exactly is a Zen teacher without any students? As a senior Dharma teacher in my Zen school, I’m the Zen equivalent of a Christian deacon: a lay clergy-person who is trained and qualified to lead practice, give consulting interviews, and otherwise help newer practitioners. And yet without a group to guide–without a group to guide me–what good am I making of an otherwise empty credential? In a word, what good is a lay clergy-person if she has no congregation, no ministry?

Hayseed Gifts

As much as I try to tell myself that my coaching is a kind of ministry, I still have the nagging sense that I could be doing more, that my recent reluctance to Dig Deep here on HO points to an underlying sense that I can and perhaps should be doing something different here. Although I have no intention of hanging up my bloggish hat, I’m beginning wonder whether I might resurrect several other hats, making a conscious effort to blog more about meditation and spirituality, about books, about writing and creativity…about, in a word, the Deeper Things that I’m really passionate about.

A teacher ain’t nothing, it seems to me, if she ain’t teaching, and I’ve let myself spend far too long scribbling bloggish postcards while there are more meaty matters to attend to. In a world where people are driving themselves crazy looking for spots of tranquility, why have I kept relatively quiet about my meditation practice: am I loathe to proselytize, or am I simply too scared to step into my own expertise, hiding instead behind some Zennish excuse of “beginner’s mind“?

Tilting at windmills

I don’t expect The View here at Hoarded Ordinaries to change drastically in the days to come…but I am starting to question my own perspective of that view. At a certain point, every writer asks herself, “What do I have to say that’s unique to my background and expertise; what do I have to say that needs to be said?” On the one hand, I don’t want to become a cliche-spouting windbag who pontificates about Zen and creativity; on the other, I don’t want to hide my spiritual light under a bushel. I guess these days I’m trying to watch which way the wind is blowing, trying to admit that everything, blogs included, change over time, with there inevitably being a time to be silent as well as a time to speak.

Junked car

To borrow a phrase from comedian Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a redneck if you park one or more junked cars in your front yard…and I’d add you might be a working class Ohioan if you park a junked car in the street in front of your house.

And you’re definitely a Vermonter if you park a Subaru ‘n’ canoe in downtown Bennington.

Subaru with canoe

Yes, I’m back in perpetually-rainy New Hampshire after yesterday’s all-day drive from Ohio…and no, neither one of these is my car, just two random pencam shots I took while walking Reggie: the first in my folks’ neighborhood in Columbus, OH on Saturday, and the second on our last rest-stop in Bennington, VT yesterday. And yes, the saying is true: Be it ever-so-rainy, there’s no place like home.

Painted moose

A couple weekends ago on my drive to New Hampshire from Ohio, I passed through Bennington, Vermont and wondered what this apparent laggard from last year’s MooseFest was doing on Main Street. A closer look revealed that Mister Moose isn’t advertising last year’s community art event but this year’s equivalent: the Bennington PaletteFest 2006, a local incarnation of the statewide Palettes of Vermont.

Many cities and towns around the country have had community art events featuring colorful objects displayed on downtown streets and then auctioned for charity. Last year, I blogged Bennington’s painted moose and Findlay’s artful stars, and elsewhere Toledo, Ohio has had frogs; Columbus, Ohio has had corn; and Brandon, Vermont has had pigs. Not to be outdone, Boston will be hosting this summer a parade of cows, which raises the inevitable question, “Why cows?” Both Chicago and Houston have hosted herds of art cows, and both cities have justifiable reason to celebrate bovines with their respective histories of meat-packing and cowboys…but Boston? Had someone asked me to plan a community art event for Beantown, I would have chosen something other than cows to represent the Hub of the Universe: how about painted beans, or lobsters, or Make-Way-for-Ducklings-style quackers?

Winter palette

Although Boston’s been more than a bit derivative in their choice of art-walk material, Bennington yet again has proven to be both creative and original in its thematic choice. There’s nothing more quintessentially Vermont than a gangly, antlered quadruped…and there’s nothing more quintessentially arty than a simple painter’s palette. Like blank canvasses, palettes lend themselves to just about anything you want to put upon them, and their rounding curves and curious thumb-hole provide just enough whimsy to allow for even the craziest inspirations.

By now, art-cows have attained a status of “been there, done that”: what can even the most creative Boston artist do with the bovine form that hasn’t already been done by artists in Chicago and Houston? A bare palette, on the other hand, is blank, but it is not bland; instead, a bare palette provides a deceptively simple and evocatively empty expanse upon which an artist’s imagination can run wild.

Painter's palette

Already impressed with the creative minds who envisioned the notion of palettes to parade on the heels of last year’s moose, I was even more amazed to learn about Vermont’s state-wide palette project. The large, professionally sponsored palettes on display in downtown Bennington are only part of a larger community art endeavor. Sponsored by the Vermont Arts Council, the Palettes of Vermont is distributing free maple palettes to Vermont artists and free paper palettes for Vermont school-children in an attempt to compile the world’s largest art exhibition with more than 30,000 Vermont artists contributing works to be displayed across the state’s 3,900 square miles. Both cows and moose are big, but the Palettes of Vermont promise to be huge: a community art event that not only encourages people to get out and mingle amongst artworks but also to contribute a work or two of their own.

And in case you’re wondering what a creative mind might do with a blank palette, check out these whimsical creations:

Monochromatic fisheye palette

Palette pair

Palette pals

Pretty palettes

Flamingo palette

Smile, you're under surveillance

And in case this glimpse of some of the palettes of Vermont piques your acquisitive fancy, don’t think you can breeze into Bennington and help yourself to one: as this sign explains, at least some of these artworks are under 24-hour video surveillance, so you’ll have to paint your own palette if you want live with art on a permanent basis. As much as I loved last year’s moose, I’m just as enchanted with this year’s palettes…and who knows what the town of Bennington and the state of Vermont has up their artful sleeves for next year.

Pastoral palette

Egyptian moose

It’s a good thing moose aren’t typically gregarious since most of us aren’t sure what to call a bunch of them. If one walking-like-an-Egyptian creature is dubbed King Moose Uncommon, would a pair be Royal Meese, or Mooses, or Moosi?

Floral moose with rider

Bullwinkle’s normally solitary ways notwithstanding, the moose in Bennington, VT are behaving in an entirely ungulate fashion these days, congregating like cattle. Yesterday afternoon as we endured the final leg on our drive back from Ohio, Reggie and I stopped in Bennington for a stretch and stroll. Bennington doesn’t always have painted moose dotting its downtown: these colorful sculptures are part of Moosefest 2005, an ongoing arts outreach and fundraising program.

Since moose are the top of every out-of-town visitor’s Must See list, I’m glad to know there’s a colorful herd stationed in Vermont these days. Everyone who visits me in New Hampshire mentions the moose crossing signs that adorn our highways: Are there really huge antlered creatures in these woods, and how do can we go about spotting some? Yes, Virginia, we have moose in northern New England, and yes, I’ve seen them on several occasions here in New Hampshire (albeit not in Keene proper). But moose generally aren’t the kind of animal you can see on demand: moose tend to appear when you least expect them, so if you go looking for the shy and awkward creatures, odds are good that you’ll be disappointed.

Brindled moose

I was enamored with moose long before I moved to New Hampshire, mainly because moose aren’t found where I grew up. White-tailed deer abound in all parts of Ohio, but moose are circumpolar creatures found in only the northernmost portions of the Northern Hemisphere. Because moose were an “exotic” creature I never saw when I was growing up, when I moved to New England I began collecting various and sundry items emblazoned with their image: a flannel sleep shirt, a set of placemats, not one but two stuffed animals, etc.

In the early ’90s, I watched the TV series Northern Exposure partly because I enjoyed its quirky characters and witty humor and partly because a moose figured prominently in the show’s opening credits. Just as I’d as a child referred to Green Acres as “the pig show” because I was a loyal fan of Arnold the Pig, I still to this day refer to Northern Exposure as “the moose show.” Given my moosey proclivities, then, you can imagine my delight upon discovering the streets of downtown Bennington adorned with fancifully painted life-size moose sculptures.

Blue moose

When it comes to loving moose, it seems I’m not alone. Maybe it’s their gangling awkwardness that makes them so endearing, or maybe it’s precisely their unpredictability, the fact you never quite know when or where you’ll see your first (or the next) one. Truth be told, the first two moose (or meese, or moosi) I ever saw were both dead: years ago while driving back to Boston from New Hampshire’s White Mountains, I saw two of the creatures tied to the back of a pickup truck, proof of a remarkably good day’s hunting. Every year here in New Hampshire there is a lottery for moose hunt permits, the number of hunters outnumbering the number of moose to be culled. That two buddies both landed permits and moose is a sign of remarkable luck…for the hunters at least. I’m sure those two late Bullwinkles felt noticeably less lucky.

Henry David Thoreau was both an outspoken critic of moose hunting and a lifelong moose afficionado. There are no moose in Concord, MA, so the second of Thoreau’s three trips to Maine was an actual moose hunt where Thoreau was unarmed and his companions were not. Thoreau’s party bagged a female moose, and Thoreau lamented the butchering of “God’s own cattle”…but he took care to closely observe and measure the creature, figuring like a true scientist that the opportunity to examine a massive moose cadaver was a learning experience he’d never forget.

Multiple moose

Apparently, Thoreau never did forget that moose: on his deathbed, Thoreau’s final words were “moose” and “Indian,” two iconic symbols of the wilderness he so loved. Moose are iconic, inhabiting wild spaces that most folks visit only on vacation or in dreams. Even if you live among moose, there’s something about their silent arrival and gangly ways that never fails to capture your imagination: although nobly impressive in size, they always seem goofy in demeanor, cartoon caricatures in fur coats.

Given the various things moose represent in our human imagination–untouched wilderness, the unpredictability of the hunt, the goofy regalness of a creature whose head and antlers woefully outsize its spindly legs–it’s natural and fitting that Bennington would choose Bullwinkle and Friends as a three-dimensional canvas for local artists’ creative impulses. Although Reggie and I didn’t see any live moose on our 1,400-mile drive to and from Ohio, on our return to New England we were welcomed home by a merry band of moosies, that ultimately being my favored term for a gang of these ganglies.

Flannel & denim moose

Timely moose

Monarch moose

Arborial moose

Escher-esque moose

Main Street moose

Marble monument moose

These artful moose will be on the loose on the streets of Bennington until October; for additional information, see the Moosefest 2005 website.

Hotel Pharmacy

Yes, I still shoot odd camera angles, even when I’m wandering out-of-state. Yesterday afternoon I took a drive to Brattleboro to walk the streets and browse the shops there: a short junket to Keene’s Vermont sister.

Ivy wall

The last time I was in Brattleboro, I was seeking signatures from my ex-husband to dissolve the Zen Group we’d started some five years ago; the time before that, I was seeking signatures from my ex-husband to dissolve our marriage. Neither of these visits was a fun one: I have a particularly vivid memory of my visit last September when Chris and I went to his bank to get our just-signed divorce papers notarized. “Have a nice day!” the notary enthused as we stood to walk away: apparently she hadn’t read the heading on the documents we’d signed (nor noted the strain in my blanched face) to realize Chris and I had just with a signature ended a relationship that had spanned our entire adult lives.

Since Brattleboro is where my ex-husband has lived for the past ten months, it is a haunted town for me. Before we separated, I’d been to Brattleboro only with Chris: we’d occasionally go there to browse shops or go out to eat with his brother and sister-in-law. After Chris moved to Brattleboro, it became his town, a place I visited only when I was coming to do “official business with the ex.” The chance of running into Chris on the street, either alone or (worse yet) accompanied, was too big a risk: what fun is there in visiting a town where the potential for awkward agony lurks behind every corner?

Carter's Little Liver Pills

Now that Chris has moved back to Massachusetts–back, in fact, to the Cambridge Zen Center, where we’d lived together for over two years–Brattleboro is free for reclamation. Just as I tried to exorcise my Cambridge Zen Center ghosts by meeting up with new-found blog-buddies there, yesterday I walked the streets of Brattleboro in an attempt to take back the town. Brattleboro never was our town, and it no longer is his town, so there’s nothing preventing it from being my town, a place I can freely visit without fear of ghostly visitations: an exorcised place that bears the shadow of bad memories but is now ready to be cleared of its karma.

Chris always said he’d love to live in Brattleboro, and I always countered that it was a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there, Brattleboro being more crowded and less walkable than my beloved Keene. After a mere ten months, Chris ended up hating Brattleboro because it wasn’t lively enough: knowing no one and having made few friends, he felt both lonely and alone, facing ghosts of his own as he too struggles to move on.


If only one of us can have Cambridge, I’ll take Brattleboro in return. It’s fine and good to say you’ll stay friends with your ex, but those awkward agonies intervene. While Chris is living at CZC–and especially after his girlfriend moves in to join him there–I’ll practice elsewhere. Although it’s a cliche to say a town like Cambridge isn’t big enough for the both of us, there’s truth behind the truism. Whether or not I’m comfortable running into Chris on the streets of Cambridge or meditating alongside him at CZC, there’s his space to consider as well: as he starts a new life with a new girl in a place we once shared, I myself don’t want to be the “ghost of relationships past,” a specter who hovers above a space they are trying to reclaim.

When we lived together at CZC and I’d go on long retreats, it always comforted me to know that there were other folks in the Zen Center who would look after Chris while I was gone, some sort of sublimated maternal instincts leading me to believe he “needed” my tending. Walking the strange streets of Brattleboro yesterday, I realized that it could indeed be a sad and lonely place if you landed there knowing no one. In Cambridge at least, Chris will have the comfort of a whole house of other people, the prospect of companionship being as close as his own kitchen. Here in Keene, I’ve occasionally felt alone but rarely lonely, surrounded as I am with work colleagues, a handful of nearby friends, and a larger network of cherished ones that transcends the boundaries of this or any town. For as long as he needs it or until he again grows disenchanted, Chris can have Cambridge. As for me, I’ve always had Keene, and now I’ll reclaim Brattleboro, the ghost town he left behind.

Brattleboro Books

Corner mural

Parked motorcycles

And yes, a quintessential Hoarded Ordinaries image: still life with shop window, mannequin, and reflection of Yours Truly:

Sidewalk treasures

Lake Champlaigne

Chris and I are back from spending exactly 21 1/2 hours in Vermont, and you didn’t even know we were gone!

Shelburne Farms Inn

As part of a surprise for Chris’s mom’s 60th birthday, on Monday morning we drove to Shelburne Farms, where we spent the day with Chris’s family and then stayed overnight at the Shelburne Farms Inn. Chris’s brother, Steve, is a professional photographer, so I tried to hold my shutter-bugging in check. I couldn’t stop myself, though, from taking (and posting) a couple of the usual touristy photos. Shelburne Farms, of course, is beautiful, with acres of cow-dotted fields and tree-studded hillsides. And the Shelburne Farms Inn is absolutely stunning with elaborate carved woodwork, fabulous views, and antique-appointed rooms. (We stayed in the Oak Room, which overlooks the lake and shares a bathroom with the Dutch Room, where Steve and his wife Eve stayed.)

As I said, we spent exactly 21 1/2 hours in Vermont: we arrived for a noontime lunch on Monday and then left at 9:30 Tuesday morning so I could be back in Keene in time to teach my afternoon class. So given the whirlwind pace of Chris and my day-tripping, here are various blog-bits to mull over while I unpack my bags…

176 House

Thanks to Kathleen of unsettled for taking me out to dinner at this local restaurant. We’ve eaten there before, but this was the first time we ate outside on the terrace, which was entirely deserted by the time that our twinkle-toed waiter finally brought Kathleen her last drink. (If you don’t believe the twinkle-toed part, check out Kathleen’s version of the evening: yes, Mitch the waiter really did do a fairy dance amongst the twinkling Christmas lights.) Over the course of the evening, Kathleen showed me how to take a non-blurry low-light photo, which involves using your camera’s self-timer, setting the camera on a stable surface, and then NOT TOUCHING IT. The next time Kathleen and I get together, I’ll take a side-angle photo of her bounteous, blog-worthy breasts. Kathleen repeatedly laments that my blog isn’t trashy enough, especially given how trashy I can be (and frequently am) in person. Just wait, sweetheart, until I have incriminating photos and tell everyone, both of our drooling hubbies included, that our girls’ nights out have gone lesbian. Stay tuned, folks.

On a purely technical level, I’ve been hobbled by continued laptop woes. Faithful readers might remember the accident that robbed me of my T-key. Well, yesterday my new keyboard arrived, and Chris promptly popped it on my laptop…only to discover that the spacebar doesn’t work. Drat. So instead of typing blog-entries-like-this-for-the-several-days-until-I-get-another-keyboard, I asked Chris to switch back to the old keyboard. (I can, after all, still use the T; it just doesn’t have a key on it!) Once Chris had re-installed the old keyboard, I discovered that the slash/question mark key didn’t work…okay, no problem. That makes it impossible to type URLs, but I can live a couple days without that…until I discovered that the P key no longer works, too! So although I can go a couple days without slashing or asking questions, I most definitely cannot go a couple days without P-ing, so here I am typing this entry in my office at Keene State. Here’s hoping my new keyboard actually works from A to Z and beyond.

Home reflection, June 2004

Next, it was only a matter of time before my fascination with shop-window reflections would find its perfect outlet in the Mirror Project, a website featuring photos of folks who have snapped self-portraits in various reflective surfaces. My sidebar blogroll now features a link to random Mirror Project images, where you just might happen upon one of my first three submissions. The picture I’ve posted here is one I took yesterday while sitting the desk in our home office. Behind me you can see a nifty print of an illuminated Medieval map of the world with Jerusalem at the center; in my hand you can see my beloved Waterman fountain pen. There is a mirror on the back of a blocked hallway door in our office; you can see the right edge of that mirror as well as a reflection of the (dusty) file cabinet that is snug against said door. This will be my next Mirror Project submission; often while I’m writing at my desk I’ll pause to look in the mirror, so it was natural to use the camera’s self-timer to capture such a contemplative moment.

Lastly, today is Bloomsday, the 100th anniversary of Leopold Bloom’s June 16, 1904 stroll through Dublin as recounted in James Joyce’s Modernist masterpiece Ulysses. As fate would have it, I’m teaching an online course in British Modernism this term, and my students read (and were completely befuddled by) excepts from Ulysses several weeks ago. (This was a schedule goof on my part: had I planned my syllabus more wisely, we would have read Joyce this week.) The best way to celebrate Bloomsday, of course, is to stroll the streets of Dublin; many Joyce fans, in fact, converge upon Dublin every June 16th to do just that. Joyce, however, wrote Ulysses during his self-imposed exile in Europe: the Dublin streets and buildings he described were those he remembered from afar, the setting of many an imagined perambulation. So lacking the means or the wherewithal to drop everything and spend 21 1/2 hours in Dublin, you should take a day-trip in your own neighborhood, living one day as a flaneur in your own town. Joyce argued that all of human nature as well as the best and worst of all human civilization could be found on the streets of Dublin; I’d argue the same can be found on the streets of any town, starting right here, right now. In other words, take a walk, an at-home day-trip, wherever you find yourself, to see whether Joyce was right.