Weekly Photo Challenge…Admiration for a Thing of Beauty

I have always admired my violin, which I bought from its maker in 1987, when it was nearly brand new.  David VanZandt lives in Seattle, and every once in awhile I take my beautiful violin home to “Daddy” for him to touch up the varnish and do any needed adjustments.  I found that, once I had my new Guadagnini-copy instrument, it made me a better player.  It sounds so beautiful, my violin teacher said it sounded much like her 18th-century Italian instrument.  It has a warm, brown varnish, and in the sunlight it just glows.  It sounds more beautiful, and becomes more valuable every year.  And it’s a work of art, in addition to being a musical instrument.

Violin front

Violin back



Weekly Photo Challenge…A Most Extraordinary Dinner

In May of 2013, I organized my first Seattle Ricochet Meetup, a physical meeting of Ricochet members, around a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar held in Seattle.  Ricochet members are always up for a meeting, and many Seattle members support Hillsdale College.  I posted an invitation on the Member Feed, and asked for advance notice so I could plan dinner at the seminar hotel.  We stayed at the Seattle Sheraton for the seminar, and I got ahold of the restaurant, the Daily Grill.  They were happy to accommodate us, so the dinner was scheduled.


This dinner was a rousing success.  By the end of the evening, we had 18 members, and a Hillsdale Professor.  We had a beautiful private room, with waitstaff very attentive, and excellent food.  One member brought her three children with her, and they were very well-behaved.  We all enjoyed cooing over the new baby, too.  People who only knew each other online, now met in person.  We Ricochet members all know that we have the most important things in common, and everyone had a great time, with stimulating conversation all around.  No one wanted to leave.  Here’s video I took that night.



Thursday Thoughts

I found an interesting statement in a Wall Street Journal review of a new book of the letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, writer of the “Little House” series about her childhood in the Midwest and on the prairie.  It seems that, in her eighties, she did a radio broadcast, to the “Children of Chicago”, and this is what she said:

“…the real things haven’t changed.  It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.”

How many of us take the time to do all those things, in the midst of our hectic lives?  How many of us laugh when we do something embarrassing (like spilling an entire dish of spaghetti sauce all over the kitchen), instead of getting angry and throwing things?  I think Mrs. Wilder’s attitude is just right.

Stay cheerful out there!

Conquering my revulsion

For most of my life, I have had a revulsion reaction to people whose bodies are deformed, or whose behaviors are offensive in public.  I believe this revulsion is probably hard-wired into human beings from prehistory, as a survival characteristic (others whose looks or behaviors are not “civilized” might be foes); so I’m betting that I’m not alone in feeling this kind of revulsion.

When I was a psychology graduate student, one of the things I learned in my human-behavior studies was that if you want to change a feeling, change behavior first.  So, if you wanted, say, to feel more accepting of people in a different ethnic group, you would attempt to meet people in the group and get to know them.  After a period of time interacting with people you might normally not like or approve of, your feelings would change, and you would discover that they are likable. (and you’d get new friends into the bargain)

I decided to put this learning to practical use in conquering my revulsion.  There is a Costco store close to my home, and I go there often to shop.  Costco has “door monitors” at the entrance to every store, to greet customers, check that they are members, and count how many people come through the door (customer-count).  One of my local store’s door monitors is a man who I think has cerebral palsy, or a similar congenital defect.  His body is twisted in abnormal ways, his teeth stick out, and he needs a walker with a seat so he can man the door.  I noticed that he seemed to be a pretty congenial sort of guy, and always has a smile on his face.  So I decided to approach him.  I made a point to say hello and smile when I went into the store, and greeted him every time.  I would stop for a moment and ask how he was, and he liked that.  And on January 2, I stepped over and gave him a big hug and said “Happy New Year”.  To my delight, he grinned and laughed, and I think I made his day.  And his reaction made my day too.

In conquering my revulsion, I also engaged in some thinking exercises, reminding myself that a deformed body may be just that, and contain a find mind inside.  I thought of examples, like Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist whose body is misshapen by ALS, but who continues to produce physics teachings.

So I’m conquering my physical revulsion, and I gain maybe not a friend, but someone who actually looks forward to the times when I go shopping at Costco.  I make a point of stopping by every time, and giving him a hearty greeting.  And I thank Costco for employing someone who perhaps would have trouble finding work.  He gets gainful employment, and Costco customers get a friendly greeting when they go in.  I find now that I look forward to seeing him when I go there.  See how behavior can change feelings?  Do the behavior, and the feelings will follow.

Weekly Photo Challenge…Landscape

My first thought was…this is way too easy!  Landscapes are a large proportion of the photos I take.  So, it was difficult to pick one that’s my favorite.  I figured I’d stay close to home.  I have always been very fond of the “shrub-steppe” terrain found in Central Washington State.  The road that goes south from Ellensburg to Yakima, along the Yakima River, is one of my preferred scenic drives.  The Yakima is a favorite with fly-fishermen.



Edit:  Here’s a closer-up of the same terrain.  Note columnar basalt about 3/4 of the way up on the right.


Oh, and take a look at the post below this one!  Same kind of theme, and more of my landscape photos.