Classic

There is something timeless about the classic beauty of a white marble bust, even if the “bust” is merely a jewelry store dummy and the “white marble” is molded plaster. The regal poise of such a pose is slightly diminished, however, when the motif is portrayed in snow by college guys whose taste in busts leans toward the “busty”:

Snow amazon

Standing tall

It’s a good thing I snapped several shots of this Amazonian snow-woman on my walk to campus yesterday, as she’d fallen prey to gravity by the time I walked home. Any woman-of-flesh would tell you that snow-breasts are destined to sag in time…even on a snow-woman with toned, gravity defying arms that would make even First Lady Michelle Obama envious.

Reggie on railtrail

It sometimes happens that I spend an entire day speaking to no one other than the dog, and then only rarely: just the two of us, without words.

Masks

This afternoon I had the delightful task of telling my first-year writing students that Keene State is canceling classes tomorrow as we anticipate our latest snowstorm. I don’t teach on campus on Wednesdays–it’s my usual online grading day, a job I do from home regardless of the weather. But I experienced a vicarious thrill listening to my students’ excited plans to spend the day tomorrow sleeping in and making snowmen and snow-angels. What better way to spend a winter Wednesday?

Mask & mirror

When I finished teaching the last of today’s classes, I rushed home to walk Reggie in the lingering light of late afternoon. I regularly walk the dog when I’m done teaching: a late afternoon walk is a great way to shake off the workday, and I’m convinced both Reggie and I rest better because of it. But today, there was an additional urgency and thrill.

Tomorrow we’ll be snowed in, I thought, so we’d better walk now while the walking is good. While others were rushing out to the grocery store to stock their shelves and refrigerators with storm supplies, I snapped images of downtown shop windows. I have plenty of food in the house to weather our latest winter storm, but what will I blog in the meantime?

Tomorrow morning I was supposed to attend a meeting on campus, and I had another commitment in the afternoon. Now, with a single announcement, both of those obligations are obliterated, as if they themselves were buried in snow. I’d planned to do laundry tomorrow, and I have an afternoon appointment to get my car serviced…but if the sky falls as snowflakes, I can skip this week’s laundry and postpone that service appointment. If need be, I can skip out on everything tomorrow, staying hunkered down at home while grading papers online, my dog and a warm blanket to keep me company. Apart from the requisite doggy bathroom breaks, there’s really no need for me to go out into the storm until it’s over and it’s time to start shoveling and scraping.

Masks with reflection

As I hurried around town this afternoon, I realized how much I love this phenomenon of hunkering down, content in the knowledge that I have a refrigerator full of food, shelves full of books, and enough grading to keep me occupied but not overwhelmed. Even as a child, I enjoyed sick days home from school, for on those days my mom would nestle me on the couch or in bed, a soothing beverage and snack, warm blankets, and my favorite stuffed animals all within easy reach. On those days, I felt like a snug ship facing stern seas: no matter what sort of threat awaited outside, inside my warm cocoon I had everything I needed to stay safe and secure.

As I type these words, I’m tucked in for the night, my warm laptop my only link to the outside world. The sky can fall as snowflakes if it likes, and I myself don’t mind.

This is your windshield on wintry mix

I left Keene for Newton yesterday around 4:00pm, before the worst of the ice storm hit New Hampshire. But yesterday morning, I did snap an image of what your car windshield looks like after a night of wintry mix: a foretaste of the ice to come.

This is my contribution to today’s Photo Friday theme, Weathered.

Even more evening wear

Yes, there’s yet another dress in the window at Miranda’s Verandah, giving me something snazzy to share (belatedly) for last week’s Photo Friday challenge, Dusk. For even though it looks like the dead of night in this photo, it was only 5:00 pm when I shot it, darkness falling earlier and earlier these days.

On the fence

As if to contradict my previous insistence that alien eyes are best seen in early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low on the horizon and thereby creates odd, often-X-shaped reflections off windows, here is the scene that greeted me when I made my way toward campus around 1:30 this afternoon: an X-marks-the-spot alien eye on the fence next to the house where aliens are born. Do you think they’re following me?

Frosted shrub

One of the benefits of walking the dog early is the phenomenon of frost. Although the thought of a cold, early morning walk might not immediately rouse you from warm covers, once you’re outside and moving–once your inquisitive dog is outside and pulling–you find that frosty morning walks offer their own reward.

Winter banner in front of Margarita's

Jack Frost is an interesting imp. He can take the most mundane thing–a neighbor’s neatly trimmed hedge, for instance, or an abandoned couch, empty beer bottle, or lone leaf–and transform it into something artful. The mere act of adding icing to an otherwise ordinary cake makes all the difference, but ice is an impermanent genre. The frost that edged a neighbor’s neatly trimmed hedge one morning this week had disappeared by midday: if you don’t walk (and watch) early, you’ll miss it. Jack Frost, you see, is a shy guy: he dashes all over town, painting the town white, but allows his handiwork to melt into obscurity as the sun rises. Jack is the kind of artist whose work you want to grab while it isn’t hot.

Winter banner

Jack Frost’s artistry is so popular these days, the city of Keene has commissioned him (or his photographic emissaries) to decorate Main Street’s seasonal banners. Featuring rime-rimmed leaves, spiraling ice crystals, and snowy landscapes, these banners boast of Keene’s natural beauties. If you oversleep and miss Jack Frost in the flesh–if you tarry until midday, when all that’s left is the bare, frigid glare of a wintry sun–downtown Keene’s Main Street banners will remind you of what you missed. “The weather, even in winter, is beautiful,” these postcard-like banners seem to proclaim. “Wish you’d been here.” Unless you have a dog pushing you to get up and walk early, you just might miss Jack and his overnight magic act, coming soon to a scene near you.

The (holy) mother of all alien eyes?

At first glance, it looks like I found the (Holy) Mother of All Alien Eyes: a window reflection on the side of St. Bernard’s Catholic church that looks like the Virgin Mary with bowed head and hands folded before her in prayer. But before you get religion and come flocking to Keene, NH to see the latest sign that God is among us, take a look at the bigger picture.

The (holy) mother of all alien eyes?

Yes, the alien eye in the center of the picture still looks a bit like Mary…but the blobbish reflection on the left looks roughly like all the other aliens I’ve blogged, their bizarre geometries caused by the particular properties of whatever pane of glass is reflecting the slanting sun. I took a moment after snapping this photo to see if there was a stained glass window on the nearby parish rectory that might have been bouncing Mary-beams onto the wall of the church, but I’ve learned from experience that you often can’t find the immediate source of alien eyes, light being both stealthy and insistent in the way it reflects and refracts. Having traveled across the Universe to land on any given wall, a beam of morning light is already miraculous enough, regardless of any member of the Holy Family it might roughly resemble.

So during the same week that Natalie saw in her underwear the face of a sorrowful nun, I too have spotted my own instance of pareidolia, chance beams on one morning’s dog-walk haphazardly aligning themselves into a sign of grace.

Conjunction junction, what's your function?

Tonight after coming home from Keene State, where I’d reviewed with my first-year writing students the rules regarding commas and conjunctions, I took Reggie for a walk and saw, again, the cosmic conjunction of the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter Leslee had seen, photographed, and blogged last night, this time hovering over the rotary junction of Main, Marlboro, and Winchester Streets.

Last night when I saw two planets nestled near the Moon, I didn’t know their names or how rare an event it was, nor did I think to snap a photo. Tonight, you can still imagine this cosmic alignment as resembling a sideways frown, but already its face is starting to droop and sag, and faces will with age. Conjunction junction, what’s your function, indeed.

More evening wear

I wonder what Frank’s daughters think about the latest piece of evening wear on display at Miranda’s Verandah.