October 31, 2011

UAB Students and Faculty Join Local Historical Associations for a Ghostly Gathering

Birmingham's newest history museum, Birmingham History Center hosted a "Gathering of the Spirits" Friday night in collaboration with the Oak Hill Memorial Association.

Among the guests were:
  • Louise Wooster, (portrayed by veteran stage actress Beth McCord - seated front left) Birmingham's famous "Madame," infamous for her house of ill repute, is also remembered for nursing those sickened during the cholera epidemic of 1873
  • John Milner (portrayed by UAB grad student Jeff Hirschy - standing third from left), a railroad engineer who played a key role in the founding of Birmingham
  • Emma Hawes, (portrayed by UAB grad student Terri Hicks - standing, fourth from right) whose husband, in 1888, murdered her and their two daughters with a hatchet, creating a nationwide scandal
  • Early Birmingham entrepreneur Rosa Zinszer ; (portrayed by UAB's Professor Pam King - seated second from right)

On Saturday, Oak Hill Memorial Association hosted a guided walking tour of the historic cemetery. Members of OHMA portrayed some of Birmingham's famous and infamous characters and led visitors around for a tour that really brought our city's
history to "life."

For more information about the museum and to become a member of Birmingham History Center visit http://www.birminghamhistorycenter.org/

To learn more about Oak Hill Cemetery and the ways you can help preserve Birmingham's history, visit http://oakhill-birmingham.org/

October 10, 2011

I am in love!

And her name is Electra, an 23-ft liaison between Birmingham and the heavens. From her lofty position atop the original 1925 Alabama Power art-deco corporate headquarters building, this golden sentinel is a monument to our human achievement of harnessing the power of nature. However, she's also a stern reminder that if we abuse that power, she will not hesitate to strike us down with a shower of golden lightning bolts. Oh I am so smitten!

My eyes are like saucers and my grin like that of a 4 year old in front of the world's largest lollypop every time I go into this building. I adore this place! I have no words to describe the inside. The first floor/mezzanine ceiling is, in one word, celestial. And oh, if only I could verbalize the tactile delight of running my hand around the carved stone rosettes that once adorned the outer facade of the original building, now integrated into the columns of the second floor that signal where old meets new!

~sigh~ Isn't it beautiful?

Leben ist schön!

October 8, 2011

One man's mold is another man's gold

Oh for the love of mold!
Last week I was taken on a tour of the Stacks room in the archives. The Stacks room is, you might guess, full of stacks. Stacks of what, you ask? Stacks of old, moldy, dusty books, of course!

The tour was initiated by me asking questions of G, the map man. G is a retiree who volunteers at different historical facilities during the week for the love of preserving history. Anyway, I heard him fiddling around in his map cove and wandered in to see what sort of mischief he was making. (The archives is a painfully quiet and lonesome place sometimes, so I look for any excuse to go chat it up) So after talking about this and that map and half-scale blueprints for a steam locomotive (!) I asked what other goodies the archives held that I'd not been told about yet. So off to the Stacks we went.

The stacks reside quietly behind a locked door. G opened the door and at first all I saw was darkness. I followed close behind as G flipped switches as he passed them - click!- each illuminating a long row of shelves that spanned a goodly length off to our right. Click, Click, Click, as we walked... Click. Click. Click...etc. At long last we reached the end of the room and to the section I was most eager to see: the stacks and stacks and stacks of city court dockets. Some four, some six or more inches thick, these enormous books were used to record each person's name and the offense for which they were arrested, going as far back as the late 1800's. Some are in perfect condition, as if they'd been placed there only hours before. Some are reduced to just papers thinly held together by the string that once tightly bound them, the hardcovers hanging on, literally, by a thread. These are the ones I am interested in. What sorts of crimes were people being arrested for in 1889? As it turns out, such things as larceny, gambling, soliciting and vagrancy were the crimes that plagued the city back then. "Larceny of peanuts" , "allowing a viscous dog to roam free" and "reckless bicycling" are just a few of the offenses that were plaguing the citizens of Birmingham . There are many pages that list a 10-20 entries for "gambling", all arrested on the same day, at the same time. Apparently, underground gambling in the day wasn't underground enough. It is the same with drunkenness -- fifteen or more names often appear in a row, including, to my surprise, quite a few women.

As we left, G clicked each row we passed, leaving the dust and mold behind in its dark repose, until the next time one endeavors to take a trip into the past. Oh G, how I thank thee!

September 25, 2011

Blogs I like: "The Mind of Me"

A great blog! He is an amazing young man who writes to gain insight about addiction and how to use that insight to help himself and others.

Click to check it out!

The Mind of Me: 09-20-11: Honesty. Open-Mindedness. Willingness. HOW. I find that these 3 principles improve my life every day I practice them. They are very simple a...


September 23, 2011

One from my archives... On Life and Death

This has been stored up in the unpublished section of my blog for two years now.


To my shock and regret, I realized recently that I am actually quite

Miss CC has been sickly lately, battling some nasty bugs and concurrent pneumonia.
When she had turned dusky and we were speeding to the ER, I held her little blue hand and sang a little song. I smiled and cooed at her and tried to assuage her my fear. I realized then that since she was born I've had in the back of my mind this idea that we've been trying to avert Death's pesk
y pursuit for the last two years, dodging and darting about, leaving a zig-zagged trail -- you know, as if that helps.

And each one of these seemingly desperate events feels like it must surely be the last, because I've somehow managed to be influenced by our strange socially constructed notion that death, in its dark and smoky anthropomorphic form, does indeed hungrily pursue us and that eventually, if we are caught unguarded, will prevail.

But it's not really this way. As unlikely as it seems, life prevails.

Or perhaps it's just that these days we are blissfully ignorant of how diligently Death pursues us. Germ theory, antiseptics, vaccines, scientific medicine... all these things have had a profound impact on staving off Death and his pesky scythe.

In pre-scientific medicine era, Charlotte would have been born only to immediately begin starving to death.
There would have been no surgery, no IV nutrition, no ability to sustain life. This precious girl that's sleeping peacefully in my lap as I type would have been an unknown.


That's where I stopped writing two years ago. And now a four-year-old Charlotte sleeps peacefully in my lap again. I can feel her heart beating slowly against my leg, and again I am pondering life and death. Her heart beats so slowly because of her faulty wiring. But faulty wiring doesn't mean faulty heart. Charlotte has, in just four years, touched more lives than most of us will in a lifetime. And though it seems like we've often had to sprint away from Death, I think really what's been going on is that Charlotte's been running so furiously towards Life!

The piece is disjointe
d, which is why it never got published. I am a good started, not such a good finisher. I know when I started writing this two years ago I was going to finish it up by praising modern medicine and the doctors that saved her life for the third time. Two years later I still thank them, but I can't leave out one very important person! I have to thank Charlotte... thank her for saving so many other lives with her kindness and purity and inspiration. Imagine what she'll do with the next four years! And the next, and so on!

I feel so fortunate to be her mother, though I can't imagine what I did to deserve such a special honor. When s
he sleeps at my side, or naps on my lap, I gaze at her with profound wonder and awe. To me, she hung the moon, as they say, and is busily painting the stars as well.

September 19, 2011

This one is all about me :)

Finally things are getting sorted out!

I've got two wonderful internships this semester, one at the local Public Library Archives. I am processing old dusty boxes containing legal cases from a few decades back. It makes me 'eart a-flutter to be around all the old dilapidated books and photographs and artifacts. (it also makes my lungs hurt so I don a surgical mask, the kind I'm always swiping from hospital clinic visits) The only problem at first was the struggle to resist the compulsion to push the button and let the moving shelves close in on me, smashing me betwixt moldy and dusty. But, then the archivist informed me that there are built-in preventions for that very thing, and so it's not possible. Damn. I mean, it seemed such an adventure.

The other is a paid internship in a similar setting. Oh how my heart throbbed when I first laid eyes on the wonders contained therein. Not only do they have old moldy books and things, but photographs, objects, blueprints, things I can't even identify but they are old and rusty and electrical looking. And art. They house all the corporate art, racks ad racks of it. ~sigh~ There is a museum section as well so I will be assisting with setting up exhibits. Heaven!

So there's the fun stuff. The mo' funna stuff is that I've been enjoying the company of some lovely ladies, as we all try to find our niche in the artsy world. Heera, the soon to be locally famous celebrated henna artist, has been very busy attending events and promoting her art. She has also been busy covering me with henna.

She does great work, wouldn't you say? Susan also has been ramping up her jewelry and Motherly Creations business, and we three went in on a booth at the recent Babypalooza. I sold a goodly amount of babywearing ring slings.

(HennaJenna. The way in, as you can see, is through my brain.)

May 3, 2010

Hanging with the ladies...

The green anole, one of the friends we want to have around.
Click on any picture to see it larger, then click again to see it mo' larger!

It's been an exciting time around the yard lately. Charlotte and Andrew and I have been welcoming back old friends and some new ones. The carpenters are here again, though I can't say I'm too glad. Sure, they are pollinating every flowering bush and tree around but do they HAVE to make little condos in my decking? (like in this photo below I found at this really cool insect identification site)

Yes, they're back. Leaving their little piles of dust:

I'll have to run them off somehow and fill the holes with steel wool and caulk, as per the expert instructions.

Also hanging about today were about a billion of these:

She is a red paper wasp, no doubt taking a break from working on the structure that's going up under the awning of my front porch. Yes, she came at me just like that. The one and only photo I took of her and I think she'd be proud! I am presuming she is a she strictly because it fits well with my all-girl theme! But the females do build the nests so it's very likely. Could also be a male in search of a female to ask out on a date.

A little while later...

This regal looking creature showed up. She is a Southern Yellow Jacket queen. Her highness hung out quite a while and was very friendly and compliant as I kept asking her to turn to the left a little... now to the right. I then tried using the magnifier add-ons but my anxiety about being 5 inches away from what I thought was a hornet fogged up the lens and the picture came out fuzzy:

And while all that was going on, this friend was hiding in the vines:

(Click on her and then click again to see her really close up)

It's our old friend the anole! We have these all over the place, and Andrew was taught at an early age how to make earrings out of them. :) This one we will call Annie, due to the braided stripe down her back (as seen in the first photo up top) that her brothers don't have. A close up of her reveals her scales are varying shades of yellow, green, blue and everything in between. She hangs out in the vines, snacking on insects and waiting for Prince Charming to come along. *(and he eventually did!)*

And that's just the back deck. I've got a wicked cool photo of a wolf spider that likes to visit but it's missing at the moment. And some various moths too but the stars of the show right now are the family of wrens living behind a misplaced stepping stone that's been propped up on the deck. More on that later.


December 5, 2009

Go gentle into that good night, Geoffrey Dylan Thomas

The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have.
Leonard Nimoy


I can still close my eyes and remember vividly the smell and the wetness of the summer grass as we lay on our backs in the darkness, side by side in Mira Vista Park. So vividly, in fact, that as I recall it now I feel like it's entirely possible to reach over and find your hand to hold.

"See the cluster of bright stars there?" you indicated with your outstretched arm. "Look at the darkness between them and concentrate, concentrate on it and it alone," you told me as you tried to take me image by resplendent image through your near-death experiences. Most people think that in death you move towards brightness, you explained, but in your experience it was not that way.

By this point, you'd died numerous times. Born with a defective heart, you needed immediate and innovative surgery -- the kind that gets written into textbooks. You were famous before you even knew how to say your own name, my friend. I recall with astonishing clarity how it felt to run my fingers along your scars; the zipper running the length of your chest that indicated where you'd been forcibly thrust apart to gain access to your ailing heart; the portal where you'd been outfitted with the device that would suggest (and I use the word with trepidation) the only beat you ever did follow. It was on the operating table that you'd found yourself so terribly alone, and yet so terribly free... a freedom that, ironically, begged to be shared. And so on that summer night as Antioch slumbered you tried to show me your death, artfully crafting the words that painted a picture of your experience. I followed along with my imagination, indeed believing I could see what you described.

Geoffrey Dylan Thomas, I hope your final j
ourney exceeded the magnificent and wonder you described to me that night.

~ ~ ~

Our first "date" found me clinging to you from the back of your motorbike. We meandered along the winding county backroads -- deep wrinkles through the soft skin of the gently rolling California hills. This time of year the grasses were young and tender (as were we) and there was a chill in the air. I thought I'd never stop shivering but I also didn't care. On and on you drove, up the back way to the top of Mt. Diablo where we stopped to eat what we'd brought along. You showed me a cool place to hike, and after around or about "4:20" you told me the story of the world, Geoffrey style.

You owned everything you talked about -- the people and the places. You could form these things into something almost tangible, something that could be held in your hands and distributed to those who cared to listen. As a result everyone could own a bit of it, and thus own a bit of you. Everything about Antioch, San Francisco, Berkeley, Black Diamond Mines, Mt. Diablo, Stinson Beach, Little Manuels(!), the river, the bridge, this house, that park, etc... I learned from you, Geoffrey. You taught me to fish, to play cards, to drive a motorbike, to smoke and drink, and things I can't mention here because it would make my father blush! It was you that drove me to Martinez to get my driver's license, and it was with you that I blew up the engine of my dad's car trying to drive up the hills of San Francisco. You showed me that a good way to spend a day was to take a blanket and some bongos to the middle of a wide-open park and play along with the sounds of the turning earth -- sounds I didn't know how to hear until I met you. When I think of you, Geoffrey Thomas, I think of playing in the rain and long drives all over California. I think of the besto pesto at the Waterloo Cafe, mismatched socks, lots and lots of pot smoking, lots and lots of loving, and one really big, hateful, horrible, hurtful, horrendous argument. You were right, by the way, and I should have told you that sooner. I'm sorry.
~ ~ ~

My own heart aches to know that yours eventually failed you. Thanks to the forethought and kindness of an unfortunate stranger, you were given a few more years to truly touch people's lives. I wonder how you felt in those first few moments after you woke up from the surgery. Did you wake and listen for the familiar clicking of the artificial heart valves? I wonder if you mourned their absence. I wonder how you felt to know you now marched to a new beat of someone's indescribably extraordinary gift.
When I think of you, Geoffrey Thomas, I think
of the the mysteries of life and death and how you regarded them with equal reverence. When I think of you, Geoffrey Thomas, I think of how you taught me and others to hear the earth's heartbeat through rhythm and song. How beautiful it is then that you led the members of The Heartbeats to tell the miraculous stories of life after heart or lung transplants through the rhythm of drums and bongos.

Geoff, when I think of you I think of a lot of things, but in the end I can sum them all up with one word: life -- for you were so full of it. You embraced it and took command of it because you knew what most of us still can't fathom: it is only borrowed... and for too short a time.

♥ You will be missed by so many people, Geoffrey ♥

~ ~ ~

November 10, 2009

The Arc National Convention 2009, or, Why I braved TSA, butt numbness, a brisk run from concourse C to A and rain-soaked luggage

Last night Charlotte and I took a stroll around the house. "Stand up... come on, stand up," I cheerily urged her on. She stood up on her own, but nervously whined for me with outstretched arms. With me behind her holding on to her little hands, she took slow and deliberate steps, her tiny naked toes pressing down firmly, her tiny feet slightly pronated. Oh, these moments, I thought. Mom helping child. Child feeling safe in mom's steady hands. She could walk on her own, but she either gets scared or she simply just doesn't care to try. If she only knew that she doesn't really need me... she could take off, untethered, unaided, unhindered.

But, I ask, what glory is there in not needing someone? ~Need needn't be a negative!~

Charlotte was born with Down syndrome. Her first few weeks were spent in NICU while she recovered from what would be the first of many procedures. During that time, I pondered what changes this would bring to my life, to our family, and how her life would be different from that of the typical child I had been expecting. I didn't spend more than a few days grieving that theoretical “typical” child because it only took a few days to realize what a truly special person Charlotte already was, and was destined to become.

That was over two years ago, and I can honestly say that this beautiful girl has left nothing but happiness and changed lives in her enormous wake. She doesn't walk, or talk much yet. She doesn't do a lot of the things a typical 2 year old does. She does different things. Not better, not worse... different. And, more importantly, she doesn't let that trouble her. As long as someone can help her.

Now obviously, we don't want Princess Charlotte to be carried around forever. She will have to learn to do some things on her own eventually. But for the rest of her life Charlotte will need a little assistance. Her outstretched arms won't always indicate "help me walk" but it's fairly certain that Charlotte will always need, in some way or another, the assistance and kindness of people.

So, how is that different from the rest of us? We all need interdependence in some way. Why would we want to give up this gift of needing others? Being dependent does not negate one's creativity, competence, or individuality. It certainly doesn't negate worth. In fact, in many ways, being dependent only strengthens all these things. It gives us a model for human civility and it gives us confidence to face our challenges. We all have limitations and it's only when we acknowledge and accept our need for interdependence that we can really know ourselves.

So, it is with pride that I carry out the role of one of Charlotte's helpers and with honor that I pursue ways to help Charlotte achieve whatever she wants. I'll be in Pittsburgh this week for the Arc's National Convention where I will learn how I can guide Charlotte, and others like her, to be as creative, as individual, and as competent as I know she is.

Charlotte's little feet may not be carrying her places yet, but her sweetness gets her wherever she wants to go!

October 28, 2009

No bathroom breaks on this evolutionary journey

Ok, you know it's cool:

These oogly little creatures that we'd rather not have as guests actually have lots of guests of their own. They play host to some waste-product-lovin' microbes and the relationship is so efficient that cockroaches have no need for potty breaks. One needs the other as much as the other needs the one. Ahh, symbiosis.

"To survive in hostile environments, cockroaches rely on their own vermin: Blattabacterium, a microbe that hitched a ride inside roaches 140 million years ago, and hasn’t left since.

Researchers who sequenced the Blattabacterium genome have found that it converts waste into molecules necessary for a roach to survive. Every cockroach is a testimony to the power of recycling — thanks to their microbes, they don’t even need to pee."

Wired Science: Cockroach Superpower No. 42: They Don't Need to Pee

October 22, 2009

Flu, Ew, and Flu

A bit of mish mash.


Swine flu provides foolproof excuse for slackers

Sick students or paranoid professors?
But the biggest temptation for faking swine flu might lurk on college campuses, many of which have been hit hard by the H1N1 virus.... nearly 40,000 cases have been reported since August. ...

“Students can e-mail their professors whenever and say, ‘I’m too sick to come in, and I don’t need a doctor’s note, and there’s nothing you can say about it.’”

At Texas A&M University, the student health center was so overwhelmed by sick students seeking excuses that health workers there composed an all-purpose student excuse form and posted it online, no signature required.

For educators ... it can be frustrating to have to take a student's excuse at face value. “Several students, they’ve gone three or four class periods without coming to class, and they‘ll come back and say, ‘Oh, I had swine flu.’ And I don’t know how to handle that,” Jackson says. “I’m basically being told to believe everybody.” But to really pull off the excuse of swine flu, which tends to linger, students would have to miss a week's worth of classes, which, some students realize, is really more trouble than it's worth."

Just skimming through the article, I first thought it was funny in the way ridiculously stupid minor injustices are funny. I thought, hmm, I've already admitted to being injected with 60 micrograms of antigen (four times the effective dose required to develop immunity) so if I make the above claim then you know whatever's going on that dictates I skip class is too embarrassing to tell the truth.

But when I re-read it this part in particular gave me pause...

“Last week I pulled the swine flu card to get out of a blind date,” says Ellie, a 21-year-old student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

The swine flu card? Ugh. I am sure the thousands of people who have had the flu and the families of the 43 children that have died from it so far wouldn't find "pulling the swine flu card" to be funny in the slightest, especially since that card was stacked against them.

Still, an interesting article on human nature.


Name that pink stuff!

Could it be:

a) ice cream
b) that denture glue stuff
c) meat
d) hint: it's c

Yepper depper. Mechanically separated chicken that ends up being hot dogs. Mmm. Now, I tried for about 10 minutes but couldn't confirm the origin of the photo. I saw t his through a FB post that linked to a blog so it's anyone's guess, but I reckon it could be true even if it is being piped into a cardboard box, which seems very odd -- I want to believe that's what it is because otherwise it probably isn't very funny.

Which leads me to...


Many thanks to DC today who warned me about the impending platypus flu pandemic (though apparently this is old news)

Platypus Flu Outbreak Info:
(Crotch Lake, Ontario Canada) In yet another outbreak of the maddening platypus flu, the Center for Disease Control has issued an alert warning health care providers to be on the look out for any new outbreaks of the influenza. Shown here Anita Lay displays some of the characteristic symptoms of the strange disease. While the disease ultimately leads to dementia, loss of memory, and end in apparen t brain death, one the initial symptoms include bugged out “crazy eyes”. In addition, patients will continuously attempt to make their lips look like those of a platypus, which gave the disease it’s cruel name platypus flu.

In the usual quiet town of Crotch Lake many parents are heard warning their children “If you don’t watch it, your face is going to freeze like that forever.” Platypus flu is limited to adolescent and pre-teen children, usual

ly appearing as early as 8 or as late as 17. While patients may already be suffering the later stages of the flu at 18, there have been no new outbreaks in patients older than 18 years. One of the difficulties in early diagnosis of platypus fever, as it is also called, is that the symptoms resemble so closely to children just “horsing around.” Typically the only way accurately rule out just plain old tom foolery is a Magnetic Resonance Image of the cranium, or as parents have always referred to it, “getting you head checked out.”

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Koramchad


And I just had to add one more, because you people just don't laugh enough! :-D

October 3, 2009

We think we're done with the flu... and other stuff

Charlotte has been quite sickly lately. The poor lass has had 104 fevers, has been coughing, sneezing, shivering, trembling, fussing, crying, and feeling just generally miserable. I'm 99% sure it's the flu, and since about 95% of the flu that's being circulated right now is H1N1, then we're fairly sure that's what she had. It has definitely struck our little town, with numerous kids out of the elementary school (some from A's classroom in fact) and with the middle and high schools having significant numbers absent as well. We've also come into contact with some other people who reported back as having it a few days after we saw them... so... that's what we're figuring.

I won't say 100% though until I see how it spreads amongst our family.

*Ugh, as of Monday she's still sick. Doc says could be a few more days still.

Anyway, here's how Charlotte does sick-time:

I did manage to get a smile out of her for this shot but it was the only time she smiled in about a 48 hour period!

A few days before:______

Daddio/Grandad with the sproutlings. They were making hats for him and forcing him to play the MASH game, while he demonstrated how to use fancy-dress suspenders. Yeah, I don't know.


Madison and Andrew playing in the water... during the rain. I guess it falls under the whole "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Andrew filling up his hat with water.

Now putting water-filled hat on.

Thumbs up for Hat 'O Water.

September 29, 2009

For Dad -- "A Glorius Dawn" (Cosmos tribute)

This video has been making the blog rounds I see and I am dutifully perpetuating it -- though I first heard about it on NPR.

Long ago, (in a far away land) my dad, a very young and intellectually curious kind of guy, introduced a very young me to the poetic wisdom of Carl Sagan.

Carl Sagan then introduced me to the wonders of the realm of space and time that expands out as far as the mind is capable, and then some. It is with profound fondness that I recall watching Cosmos with Dad in the living room of our home in a somewhat still fledgling Trussville, Alabama. Our house was new, part of a neighborhood of only a handful of houses, flanked by woods on nearly all sides. So on cool spring nights, Dad and I could be found stretched out on the back deck atop the aluminum chaise-lounge chairs with the woven vinyl piping stuff, enjoying the quiet, unfettered view of the night theater. It was the first time I recall that heady feeling of my mind "stretching" and it was because of Carl Sagan and these nights of sky watching that I became addicted to curiosity itself.

I distinctly remember these Saganisms like "I believe our future depends on the how well we understand this cosmos, in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky."

How well I remember that first time I pondered the "simplest thought like the concept of the number one..." (and of course, that moment when I realized that not everyone's number one was like mine) and taking that singular one and turning into a googol. I was struck with both wonder and horror when I realized that "World" could in theory, be little more than what fits on that speck of dust floating in the morning sky. Because after all, the brain has its own language, testing the structure and consistency of the world, because the brain does more than just recollect, it generates abstractions... and in my astonishingly young mind, I suddenly found myself wondering...is my whole world just an abstraction???

There are as many universes as there are grains of sand on all the beaches? That's very heady stuff for a five year old (was I really only five?). And I'd lie if I said all this deep thinkin' didn't produce some fairly frightening nightmares. Recurrent ones, actually. Recurrent dreams of lying in my bed in a room with no roof, vulnerable to the unfathomable darkness and infinity of the universe. To be fair, there was also that pesky one about the volcano in the backyard forcing me to lock all my stuffed animals in the bathroom before speeding away in my aunt's hideous purple Ford Galaxie. Interesting. Was it really a Galaxie?

Anyway, there ya go. It's no wonder I have a fondness for dear Carl. He was one of my first teachers, I guess you could say. And so it follows that I always put Dad and Carl Sagan together in my mind. So, I thought of you, Dad, when I saw this.

And since that show first sparked my curiosity "billions and billions" of tv shows ago, I have learned, and am learning still, that there are indeed as many worlds as grains of sand -- within our own world, each within another world, within that one, and so on. And it reminds me that, as the late great Wonderer said:

"A still more glorius dawn awaits, not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise. A morning filled with 400 billion suns. The rising of the milky way..."

Yeah so I've been very girly about all this and cried through it almost every time I've watched it. I think it's because it takes me back to a time when I was that child filled with wide-eyed wonder, with the whole world spread out before me, full of endless possibilities. I thank my dad for having the foresight to make sure we watched this show, and for taking to time to talk to me about it afterward. Life has finally brought me back to that place of wide-eyed wonder, and I know without question that the world really is full of endless possibilities.

(and it has just occurred to me -- I may have figured out the reason why I totally dig guys who wear turtlenecks and blazers! )