it strikes like lightnings

May 12th, 2010 | Uncategorized

This morning I was awakened at dawn by hermit thrushes, back from wherever they’ve been since last summer. Their song is unbearably beautiful. But instead of subjecting you to one of my feeble annual tributes, (2006, 2008) I’ll direct you to the lovely animated version of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “Spring” that my friend Sarah Van Arsdale just made.

64 Responses to “it strikes like lightnings”

  1. Antoinette says:

    A thing of beauty is a joy forever!

  2. laura says:

    This is SO BEAUTIFUL!!! Thank you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I look forward to seeing more from Sara Van Arsdale.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sorry,should be Sarah with an ‘h’.

  5. Cheryl Lynn says:

    Except for Adam and Eve, I liked it!
    Spring has sprung in my neck of the woods too. In fact, planting has begun.
    How good is that!

  6. Kate L says:


    (Anonymous #35, from previous post) This land-grant university began in its present form in 1861, shortly after President Lincoln signed the land-grant university bill into law. We were known by another name before then, so U Michigan may be the first school expressively founded as a land-grant institution.

    This school had its highest percentage of women faculty at the moment of its founding (50%), because there were just two men and two women on the faculty out here on the prairie in 1861. There are more, now. Btw, I was just interrogated by a junior faculty member about a graduate-level course in petroleum geochemistry I’m already scheduled to teach next Fall. Our interim chair warned me that this guy was worried I’d be stepping on his feet over groundwater geochemistry (no), but this guy demanded my publications background and professional work history. He was pretty pushy for an assistant prof who has bene here a year. Should I have gotten out my trusty, double-headed wimmyn geologist’s hammer?

  7. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#6)

    Nah, just hit him with your CV, it’s heavy enough. 😉

    You should have turned the tables on the little twirp and demanded *his* CV, and dryly noted that you were already a working geologist when he was pre-pubescent.

    All this begs the question, why your interim chair didn’t deal with the knucklehead and put him in his place. I’d have blown they guy off by telling him that he was exhibiting way too much insecurity, perhaps he had something to hide?

    But that’s just me. A UU pacifist type such as yourself would be far too gneiss in this situation. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun)

    (… goes back to whacking at the endless pile of e-mails in the inbox …)

  8. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#6)

    Another thought… tell the guy to Google you. That should keep him busy.

  9. Kat says:

    The “Spring” animation is adorable.

    Kate L, could we lock you your annoying guy and my a**hole boss somewhere together? Surely there’s a small broom-closet somewhere that would do?

  10. Feminista says:

    #6: MAC (Mich.Agric.College,now MSU)was founded in 1855; Univ.of MI was established ca.1826 as a liberal arts college.

    Anyway,whatajerk you had to deal with today! Mary Daly’s spirit is on the case,singing “If I had a Hammer.”

  11. Marj says:

    HoH – many thanks for the advice about Open Office (previous thread). I successfully installed it last night, and feel very proud!

    Agree with you re Kate L’s interim chair. So much weak management around these days…

  12. Oh this animation delights at every turn. Dinah is especially grateful for the inclusion of Fred. I appreciate how readily you appreciate other artists, Alison. We are an eager audience here. Thank you, SAV.

  13. j.b.t. says:

    Lovely spring show. Cute: my cats were both very interested/excited/confused when it started with thrush song…

    Kate #6: Isn’t that highly frowned upon in academia- to do that to another professor? Keep us posted with what happens. Sorry you have to deal with such a twerp.


  14. Kate L says:

    So, far, the guy who wanted to know about my background and publications has had four conversations with me this morning about the petroleum-related course. Two in the hallway as I walked to the elevators, one at my office door a few minutes later, and one just now as he was driving to the regional airport a hundred miles away to catch a flight to India. He said today that he was not questioning my background (really?), and that he was just concerned that the title of my course next fall needed to clearly state what the course was going to be about (petroleum source rocks) and that it was not going to be about some other aspect of geochemistry (groundwater, environmental, etc.). That actually is a good point; I left the job title up to the interim chair when he had the course listed in the course catalogue for the fall semester. Now, I’m afraid to look to see what he named it that had the first guy so rilled up! Oh, just before he hung up his cell phone, the first guy asked to speak with me again when he gets back to the States later this month, and not to talk to the interim chair about this until he does! One step forward, one step back…

  15. Judybusy says:

    Thanks for sharing the animaiton! One of my favorite things about gardening is the sound of the birds. Last year, a hummingbird fed on the nasturtiums and made little chirping noises as it did so. This went on for about two minutes, an eternity in hummingbird universe. Even better, this moment was shared with a really good friend!

    Kate, I think you need to talk to the interim chair without delay. But then I can be impetuously oppositional. The nervous guy needs to CHILL!

  16. Dr. Empirical says:

    Irrelevant aside, but may I just say that I hate lawyers?

    Thank you.

  17. Kate L says:

    Thanks for your kind concern, but my little problems don’t amount to a hill of beans compared to recent events on Jupiter! The Southern Equatorial Cloud Belt (SEB) has gone missing!!! Here are before and after images taken by Australian amateur astronomer Anthoney Wesley. For scale, the famous Great Red Spot, visible in the June, 2009, “before” image, is about the same diameter as the Earth. Oh, sure, astronomers say that the white and red bands on Jupiter are the result of upwelling and downwelling in the planet’s thick, deep atmosphere, but I blame Klingons! Note: “NEB” in the photograph is either the location of the Northern Equatorial Belt, or the hypothetical location of Jovian Nebraska. It’s Klingons, I tell you!

  18. Kate L says:

    ,,, and I just came across this Jovian-related article in The Onion. Coincidence? I think not!

  19. Ready2Agitate says:

    e-gad, and condescending to boot, Kate L. Best thing is to let his arrogance eventually fold over on itself. Stay cool as a cucumber. You. Are. A. Pro. (him, not so much)

  20. Ready2Agitate says:

    Back to Elena Kagan (hijack!), dyke or straight or bi, will she defend Civil Rights?

    Nominee Scrutinized for Hiring on Race

    “Ms. Kagan’s history on race issues at Harvard has come under scrutiny since President Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court on Monday. Critics say that she did not create enough racial diversity at Harvard, and that in the absence of any writings or opinions, her hiring practices serve as a clue to her thinking. Her supporters counter that she demonstrated a commitment to equality….”

  21. Feminista says:

    Good point as usual,Ready.

    Just the facts,ma’am.
    (Quote from Sgt.Joe Friday from the Boomer-era TV show Dragnet.)

  22. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Quick highjack back to Hopkins animation by SVA, which was enchanting, and to Maggie in #13, what is it about birdsong in recordings? I was playing Respighi’s Pines of Rome which includes a nightingale song, and my cat Hengist leaped on top of the stereo cabinet and inspected the speaker closely. At least he identified the source of the song!

  23. Kate L says:

    Thanks, Ready, hairball! I tried to relax last night with a classic science fiction novel, Arthur Clark’s sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Mid-way through, unusual changes are observed in Jupiter’s atmosphere… just before it unexpectedly goes nova. Augggghhhhh! Oh, well, at least the novel is set far into the future. It’s title? 2010. Augggghhhhh!

  24. NLC says:

    Kate L#25:
    Good call, re 2010

    I assume you were there (in sprit, anyway) with those of use who celebrated HAL’s birthday back on January 12, 1997?

    (I’ll see you at King’s Cross Station on 1 Sept 2017.)

  25. Kate L, thanks to you I found myself closely examining a photograph of Erik Prince for Klingon features. And clearly Cheney was one before plastic surgery removed the brow ridges, but not the sneer.

  26. Calico says:

    Off-topic – but on there’s a new ep up of Billy the Exterminator called “Spider Invasion”, and in the episode description it states that Billy’s Mom’s neighbor has…you guessed it-a Nutria problem in her yard!
    I can’t wait to see this a bit later.
    I told my gf about Nutria the other day, and she told me the name in French, and now I have forgotten.

  27. Bechadelic1 says:

    The animation was so cute. Loved the bunnies.

  28. Yeah, back to the poem for a minute: The choice to use “lightnings”, plural, illuminates that line and the next one or two which follow. What all poets hope to do, that sort of language as chisel, and why AB chose it for her post title — being an artists whose work also tends to strike like lightnings. We here know word choice matters as much as the image which flows from ink, because our ravenous brains eat metaphor first as if it were bacon or syrup-flavored Fwuit Bats, filling up later on burdock loaf.

  29. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Calico (#28)

    According to the Google translation, nutria is ragondin en français. Of course, it might be something else en français québécois (Québécoise? La langue is fem., so perhaps the adjective is also fem. when the object [language] is implied, but I was a sorry-assed French student and I have no clue.)

    Yeah, Maggie pegged it, word choice matters.

    (… goes back to her pile of stupid online training that needs to be completed by Monday …)

  30. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Maggie (#30)

    Burdock loaf… reminds me of a recent thought chain while I was brainstorming for a gift for someone.

    One of my favorite edible gifts was a three-month subscription to one of those fruit-of-the-month clubs. It ran from December to February, and nothing was more welcome than the box of fresh mixed citrus in the depths of winter. I had a blast for a few weeks with various mixtures of freshly-squeezed citrus juice combos every morning, nibbling on unusual citrus as snacks, and even figured out how to to eat a kumquat (roll in between palms to release juices, then bite in, no peeling required).

    In that thought chain, I wondered what kinds of monthly food subscriptions would work for the various DTWOF characters. Stu’s gift had to be all local, so it was a root vegetable of the month club. Mo’s was tofu of the month. Sydney’s wasn’t food per se, it was a single-malt scotch whiskey of the month. I didn’t get much further than that, so anyone who wants to finish out the rest of the DTWOF characters (or if you’ve got better suggestions for Mo, Syd, and Stu), hop aboard this timewasting exercise, it sure beats getting actual work done on a Friday afternoon.

    (… goes back to her mindless day, ever mindful that it will end soon …)

  31. Ian says:

    Sydney’s food of the month would be anything with which she could tempt Mo away from her ascetic lifestyle. I wonder if Mo was susceptible to bacon? Especially if drizzled with maple syrup, which close readers will notice appears a couple of times in her sexual fantas[t]ies!

    Fantasties (n.) A word combining fantasies and tasty, used to describe thoughts of food sex.

    Clarice’s would be takeout of the month, eaten slumped in front of the TV after a hard 18 hours at work, eaten sneakily while Stu was out demonstrating.

  32. Feminista says:

    Back to Jane Smiley and Moo.

    My research indicates she indeed teaches at Iowa State Univ. in Ames. One book reviewer insists a well-known secret that it’s about Univ.of CA Davis. Smiley denies that it’s about Davis despite huge sales of the book in question at the univ.library.

    Univ.of Iowa in Iowa City is home of the internatinally-known MFA in writing program and the Iowa Writers Workshop.

    People get UA and ISU confused all the time. In fact,I recently read about an eager young writer who was accepted at ISU’s MFA program,and didn’t realize until she was on the plane and talking to another student that she would not be attending the famous MFA program.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

  33. Feminista says:

    Oops,insists *it’s* a well-known secret.

  34. Feminista says:

    Oops again. University bookstore,not library. Hey,it’s Friday!

  35. I love Sarah’s animation. I love Gerard Manley Hopkins. I love the annual tributes to the thrush.

  36. Kate L says:

    The Huffington Post is now reporting that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan made a point of telling the White House what her sexuality was when she was originally interviewed as a potential nominee. Actually, I don’t think that a nominee’s sexuality is going to be that big a deal in this day and age; after all, everything’s up-to-date in the 21st century, as we say in the Kansas City regional area! True, there has been unusual attention paid by Kagan’s critics to a photo of her playing softball, and apparently enjoying it, but I don’t think that proves anything. It reminds me of the famous scene from an old Steve Martin movie, where he plays a gas station attendant randomly selected by a psycho killer to be his next victim. As the psycho is firing on the gas station where Steve Martin’s character works, and oil can after oil can gets shot off the shelf next to Martin, he says, “It’s these cans! He hates these cans! He really hates these cans!”. Applying the same logic to the critics of the Kagan softball photo, and using the same crackerjack logic that makes me fear a Klingon invasion when I see Jupiter in the night sky, I realized that Kagan’s critics really hate softball! They really hate softball! It’s all so clear, now.

  37. ksbel6 says:

    Oh, Kate L, ouch, that hurts.

    I think it is probably fairly common to confuse all “University of …” and “… State University”. Especially if you personally are not near/dear to either of the institutions. I was not confusing U of I with Iowa State, I just could not remember the book well enough. I did really enjoy the read though.

  38. Kate L says:

    (ksbel6 #39) Well, softball and the lack of judicial experience.

    Oh, also, what’s in a name (of a state university)? Indiana University and Purdue are both large midwestern universities (I have my master’s from one of them), and people often ask, “which one is the state university?”. Ha! Both are state universities! Also, it really is called Indiana University. There is a University of Indiana (Jimmy Stewart was an alumnus), but that’s a private school in Pennsylvania!

  39. Kate L says:

    I just came back from counter-protesting the Fred Phelps family at (local Moo U’s) graduation ceremony, as I do every year. This year, their usual “God Hates…” posters included one that said, “God Hates the World”. Says a lot about their attitude. Their signs also included, for the second perplexing year, an anti-semitic one, and one that said “Bloody Obama” (no explanation was given for what that one meant). They also had two children playing kick the can with the American flag, and (I’m told, I didn’t see this last one) the LGBT multicolor flag.

  40. Calico says:

    I hope they didn’t have a sign that says “God hates Nutrias”, or “God hates Kitchen Nightmares.”
    Cause then I would really be pissed. ; )

    Was crazy Shirley there?

  41. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#41)

    Re: Phelps’ sign “God hates the world”…

    Really? You’d think that would be a direct contradiction to a pretty central tenet of Christianity, John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” [KJV]).

    It’s rather amazing that so many nutjobs seem to have a direct line to what God is thinking and what God wants. Or so they claim. Once upon a time, folks who claimed to talk to God and take their instructions from God were locked up, or at least heavily medicated. Now they get primetime media coverage as some kind of legitimate political/religious group.

    Where’s good political street theater when you need it?

    Of course, anyone who lives with a feline talks to God every day. Cats know they are God, and the humans eventually figure it out.

    (… goes back to a gorgeous spring day with baseball and pollen in the air, sans opera …)

  42. Diamond says:

    Hairball, don’t you get operas from Covent Garden when the Met ones aren’t on? It’s Rossini on BBC Radio 3 in the UK at the moment, in the slot that you usually listen to. Could you listen to it online from the BBC site?

  43. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Diamond (#44)

    Thanks, I didn’t know about BBC Radio 3. My local classical station, WQXR (, schedules taped opera on Saturdays when the Met is out of season.

    Right now, they are airing a taped performance of Faust from Lyric Opera of Chicago, but there’s something about a *live* opera broadcast that really attracts me.

    Perhaps it’s the living-on-edge idea that anything can happen live. I just don’t enjoy prerecorded opera broadcasts as much. Sort of the same idea behind my enjoyment of sporting events; I don’t enjoy the prerecorded game as much as watching/listening live, even if I don’t know the outcome in advance.

    The live Yankee baseball game won out today over the prerecorded opera. But if the game was boring or rained out, I’d be listening to the taped opera.

    Opera season and baseball season overlap by six weeks or so in the spring, and by about four weeks in autumn. For me, the passage of seasons comes into focus when the overlap ends; it’s spring (soon to be summer) when opera season ends and baseball is in full swing, and it’s definitely autumn when baseball ends and opera is in full gear. No matter the overlap, spring or fall, I’m bound to be sneezing and wheezing from pollen, yet another marker of time. :(.

    Of course, more sensible people simply listen for the thrush birdsong as a marker of spring.

    (… goes back to potzkering around in the kitchen, hopefully not her personal version of “Kitchen Nightmares” …)

  44. Feminista says:

    #40 Kate L: Great minds think alike department: I was going to give that example of Indiana PA!
    And if I haven’t said so lately,you rock!

    Now that we’ve got the state univ.vs. univ.stuff cleared up,it’s back to my commemoration of the 40th anniversary of various left and/or feminist milestones.

    To wit,Jackson State on May 14. I can’t tell you what I was doing 40 years ago,because many of us didn’t know about it! The mainstream press did a great job of ignoring it,and the southern WI/northern MN area alternative paper from Rockford,IL,had a Yippie and White Panther slant.(If you haven’t heard of the latter,you didn’t miss much. They were very male-dominated groups held no appeal to me. The White Panthers were based in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area.)

    But that summer 1970,besides participating in the Intensive Learning Program I’ve mentioned earler, I spent a weekend in Rockford learning the basics of draft (resistance)counseling. The threat of the draft was ever-present for young men then.

    I never got a chance to use those skills,but it was my way of making a contribution in those charged times. I also served on the Student Judiciary Committee. Strange,I haven’t thought about those two activities in ages.

    Amy Goodman on Democracy Now’s May 14 program presents an excellent interview with Gene Young,who was a Jackson State student at the time of the campus shooting of two young Black men.

  45. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L, Feminista

    A few more schools with geographically-misleading names come to mind… Miami Univ. of Ohio (Oxford, OH, to be precise, one of several Oxfords on this side of the pond), Washington Univ. in St. Louis, MO. Oh, and just to add to the Indiana state school confusion, there’s Ball State, in Muncie, IN. I always wondered about nicknames for the Ball State crowd, but of course those are NSFW (Not Safe For Work).

  46. NLC says:

    trivia nugget concerning University of Indiana University.

    If you drive down the interstate near Indiana Penn., and drive a bit farther on you come to a second sign directing you to (ta-da) “California University”.

    A bit of second level trivia: Note that the names of the Universities in Penn are “backwards” from the names of the names of the university in their home states.

    That is Penn. is home to “University of Indiana”, and “California University”.

    While universities in each of those states are “Indiana University” and “University of California”.

  47. Ruth in RI says:

    Totally off topic: Here’s Rachel Maddow giving the commencement address at Smith

  48. Kate L says:

    Thanks, Feminista (40) and everyone else for being so kind! But I felt terrible all last night because of my flippant response to ksbel6 (#39) Ksbel, I actually composed and sent my post about Justice-nominee Kagan without knowing that you had posted your concern about her lack of judicial experience. My post was directed at congressional Republicans. Then, after I posted, I did see you post about judicial experience, and I posted my feeble attempt at humor (#40). I apologize!

    It’s a sad day here at the Melody Ranch for another reason, as well… one of the coolest people on campus has retired, and is moving with her partner to Vermont. Vermont!!! Cool person capital of the world (their new state motto, I belive; look for it on their car license plates). What can explain the powerful hold that this mysterious and exotic place (never been there, myself, so I’m just extrapolating) has on such marvelous people?

  49. Kat says:

    Oh, Hairball beat me to “Miami University”….

  50. Amy says:

    Miami University is where I was introduced to DTWOF.

  51. Ian says:

    Speaking of university, or college rather, I have an essay due in 2 weeks where I set my own title to the theme of ‘rhythms and cycles’. I’ve chosen to write about art in the celebration of Easter.

    One of the things I want to write about is the flower pictures that they make for the Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala. So far, all I’ve found is very basic tourist website writing. I wonder if any of you wonderful people could point me in the direction of some good writing about them?

    Many, many thanks if you can!

  52. Acilius says:

    @h_o_h #47: I know some alums of Ball State University who pick up on the fact that the school was named after a company that makes canning jars and call it “Fruit Jar Tech.” So there is at least one SFW nickname for the place.

  53. --MC says:

    Kitchen nightmares? Did I miss this thread? Or did I participate in it, probably by quoting Zappa’s “The Dangerous Kitchen”? “The soft little things on the floor that you step on / They can all be DANGEROUS ..”

  54. Kate L says:

    ‘Round about midnight last night (central time in North America), I was tossing a ball for my dog to chase in the house, when she slid into the edge of a low table. She started shrieking the way dogs do when they are in real distress, and couldn’t put her weight on the paw of the leg that hit the table corner. As she was shrieking, she looked at me with those trusting brown eyes as if to say, “Fix it! I know you can fix it!” I looked at the paw, and it was hanging at an odd angle. I was wondering how many 24-hour vet hospitals there were in this midwestern college town, when I seemed to pop something back into place. Suddenly, she was fine again, and wanted to continue playing. I put the ball up. I checked her paw first thing this morning, and it’s fine. We even went for a walk over lunch; she wanted a longer walk than I was planning, and I let her lead the way. I just turned in grades for my first three classes that were due today, so I’m about to head home. I’m going to pick up some of her favorite treats on the way home.

  55. --MC says:

    What a dog!

  56. Ready2Agitate says:

    such a good mama you are, Kate L! Thanks for the uplifting story!

  57. Anonymous says:

    #56: Kate L, you can add canine chiropractor to your resume!

  58. Bechadelic1 says:

    “Fix it! I know you can fix it!” – Awwww I teared up at that!
    Like R2A says, you’re a good mama to your canine baby, Kate L.

  59. Kat says:

    Yeeps, Kate L, I hope your furry baby’s doing ok!!

  60. Kate L says:

    Thanks, everyone! 🙂 By coincidence, Sandy’s rabies vacinnation and annual exam at the vet’s was today, so I told her vet what had happened. She said that Sandy seemed fine!

  61. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L

    Glad to hear Sandy’s ok. But you omitted the usual detail about her… how much did she weigh at the annual vet visit?

    BTW, it’s a good idea to ask your vet about emergency and 24-hour coverage when you visit. Some vets actually make housecalls, and your vet may have an arrangement for coverage, or may have a preferred 24-hour vet hospital. Keep the info in the usual accessible places, e.g. next to the phone, on the refrigerator, etc. next to the animal poison control center number.

  62. hairball_of_hope says:

    Off-topic, but a familiar one nonetheless…

    From the “Happy Appalachian Trails” Dept., comes the latest example of right-wing GOP hypocrisy. Indiana GOP Rep. Mark Souder, well-known as an evangelical Christian who promoted abstinence and opposed LGBT rights, has resigned his House seat after revealing he had an extramarital affair with a female staffer.

    The Washington Post article is all about the insider intrigue over the timing of the leaks and the potential successors to Souder’s seat. Souder won a GOP primary a few weeks ago, so now the GOP insiders get to pick the replacement, not the registered GOP voting public. Ain’t democracy grand?