Thursday, August 20, 2009

A-maze-ing. (There was really no other title for this.)

I was browsing Wikipedia a while ago and came across a genuine registered state landmark in my backyard, so to speak. I'm all about registered state landmarks, so when Daniel and I needed a destination for our last summer adventure, I knew this would be it.

Okay, so the Hemet Maze Stone is just a rock with an interesting painting on it, but some native peoples really, truly made it. And that's worth surrounding in not one, but two chain-link fences and barbed wire, apparently.

The view was nice. It was warm, but slightly overcast. Nice day.

We were really there. I mean it.

I learned last summer at the Diamond Valley archaeology museum that sunflowers are native to the San Jacinto Valley, and we got to see some up close.

One of the things that I love most about wandering through a deserty region with a macro setting on my camera is that the tiny elements that you'd normally pass by become fascinatingly intricate and genuinely beautiful when you can stop to see them for what they are.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Not year of the dog, but definitely day of the hot dog.

Mom's second group of Chinese students this summer spent a five-day intensive here. Here's Shen, the one who stayed with us. The students are addressed last name, first name in China, and here they told us that we could just call them by their last names.

Hu, Mom, Shen, and Chen.

Mom and I drove them to LAX Wednesday and then, at the recommendation of one of the host parents, had lunch at Pink's, a hot dog place that, he said, is "where all the stars go." We didn't see any stars, but we did see a lot of other people.

The line wrapped around the back of the building and we waited in it for a good 45 minutes. But the food was tasty, and we got a little LA diversion.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Polaroid blitz.

I've been rifling through our collection of family photos all summer, and the other day I decided that I should compile all of the Polaroids floating around in our picture bin and display them. But in researching ways to display Polaroids, I discovered that they don't do well when exposed to light and air. I hung them in a darker part of our hallway, but in case they don't survive prolonged exposure, I took pictures of them (not sure what happened to our scanner...). And in case something happens to my digital copies, they are now uploaded and preserved here.

Rachel, Shannon, and Angelica exploring our tool shed back in Cleveland.

Mom asleep with the puppy Happy that we had for about three months in the summer of 1997.

The four of us in our backyard with some sort of odd creation that we were evidently proud of.

Look at that smile. Someone's happy.

I don't know what the occasion for this picture is, but you've got to love the fake tree and improvised couch slipcover.

Oh Rachel. Crazy kid.

All of us at the Washington Elementary School Father-Daughter Dance. That was the only year that we all attended the same school, if you don't count Dehesa. Polaroids make me wistful and nostalgic and wish that they had more detail.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

At the beginning, I thought I might just be getting into an Indian version of Tristram Shandy. But Saleem Sinai, the first-person narrator, was eventually born. And he was born at the stroke of midnight on the day of India’s independence, so that he and his country would be precisely the same age. The novel, in mystic departures from Western reality, recounts the unrest and political turmoil of India in the mid-20th century. Rushdie conjures an entire world of clashing and sloshing traditions, the swirling influences of Muslims and Hindus colonized by the British.

Saleem relates the events of his life in the enigmatic rhythm of an Indian spun tale, making completely understandable events into vague prophecies, telling fortunes both backwards and forwards: “There was a washing-chest and a boy who sniffed too hard. His mother undressed and revealed a Black Mango. Voices came, which were not the voices of Archangels. A hand, deafening the left ear. . . . And love in Bombay caused a bicycle accident; horn-temples entered forecep-hollows, and five hundred and eighty-one children entered my head. . . . There was the question of purpose, and the debated between ideas and things. There were knees and nose and nose and knees” (348). The convention lends legitimacy to the actual prophetic utterings of a turbaned lower-caste seer, making his presaging remarks seem quite plausible after the explanations.

Saleem, typing up his life story as the novel progresses, stops to try and comprehend all that has happened to him. “[N]ow, seated hunched over paper in a pool of Anglepoised light, I no longer want to be anything except what who I am. Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by me. I am anything that happens after I’ve gone which would not have happened if I had not come. Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each ‘I,’ every one of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you’ll have to swallow a world” (440-41).

I was daunted by the length but I became transfixed by the rich sensory universe of the novel. Alteratively ridiculous and tragic, Rushdie's novel in its wide-ranging scope encompasses India and what it was as it began its movement toward the rising global presence that it is today.