Monday, April 9, 2012

Word-smithery: Halcyon Days (Jillian)

A word has been dancing in my head these last few days. Since the bizarre 85-90 degree heat of March has finally retreated (anything goes in the Midwest), we have returned to halcyon days: temperatures not quite at 70 during the day, cool nights, blue skies with a swirls and daubs of cirrus cloud here and there. The violas and pansies are growing. Birds (and the gibbons at the zoo just a few blocks away) are in chorus from the wee hours of the morning till sunset.

Halcyon? It is a simple adjective, really, meaning "calm and peaceful." A halcyon is also a bird out of Greek mythology, but probably refers to the kingfisher. According to Ye Olde Wiky-pedia, it is "said to breed in a floating nest at sea during the winter solstice, during which time it charms the wind and waves into calm." The myth tells of Alcyone and Ceyx who angered Zeus. Ceyx was killed at sea, and Alcyone threw herself into the sea in grief. Out of pity, Zeus turned them into halcyon birds.

I've also learned that "halcyon days" refers to a seven-day period in wintertime when storms do not occur. Apparently, this is when Alcyone (or the kingfisher) lays her eggs. Nevertheless... "halcyon" as a descriptor for a period of mild, calm weather in Spring... or Summer... or any season is appropriate. I think so, anyways.

I hope at least the halcyons of Spring stick around for a little bit longer before the heat returns and scorches all this lovely greeness.

Friday, April 6, 2012

To-Do Lists from a Master (Jillian)

Leonardo da Vinci's to-do lists.

Hello, all. Though I've been idle as far the blogosphere is concerned there are one or two things that catch my writer's eye now and again - and tickle the grand thirst for whimsies. (I've recently joined Pinterest as well, which is home to a delightful plethora of visual whimsies.) This week, for example, I came across this tidbit from the Telegraph. Apparently, Leonardo da Vinci's do-lists and to-get lists are going on display next month at Buckingham Palace in Great Britain.

First of all... I was mildly surprised that an artist so, well, historically immortal would ever need to write out to-do lists. Or take notes. Or remind himself to pick up a set of chalk along with shirts and stockings before going off on a journey to Pavia to, um, dissect some cadavers at the medical school there.

Second, his lists and notes put mine to shame. This man truly had to have been a genius. Even these scribblings and anatomical drawings are beautiful, whereas mine have wound up in the recycling with absolutely no regrets.

Third, I am fascinated that someone found these lists and kept them. They're important little glimpses into an artist's process, and allows us to wonder at him several hundred years later. It is not necessarily that he was a genius or that his masterpieces appeared on canvas fully formed (uh, no) - but that he possessed the same drive to know and to explain and to imagine the universe that we do today... sketching and dissecting and creating as he did.


to a blog by three people who write, for anyone else who wants to write. It's a cruel world for creators, and here we promise support, whimsy, and curiosity that will hopefully keep your pen moving and keyboard tapping!

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