Sunday, March 05, 2006

Why Digital Cameras Are Great

Friday night Greg and I went to dinner at Montana Mike's, a restaurant that's part of the Sirloin Stockade chain. Sirloin Stockade's corporate headquarters is in Hutchinson.

We sat down and noticed this massive fire door right beside our table. Being the sort of person I am, I couldn't resist leaning over and reading the sign on the facing, just a foot or so from my eyeballs.

Just in case you can't make it out from the photo, it says, "Fire door could close RAPIDLY at any time and result in death or serious injury."

This thing was the size of a very large garage door and about a foot to the left of our table. About two feet to the right of our table was an exit door that went right out onto the sidewalk. I guess if you survive the fire door, you can exit safely two feet away.

Dickinson and More

I'm happy to report that I'm feeling practically normal today. Still tired, but I've not had a nap today, for the first day in awhile.

I did sleep in this morning. It's the first night I've slept really deeply all week and it felt good.

When I went to bed last night it was raining - for the first time in months. It was only a little bit of rain, but it was welcome. I had practically forgotten what thunder and lightning was like. I love to sleep when it's raining - love to listen to it. Makes me feel all cozy inside.

I've got a ton of flowers blooming. I had snapped some pix a couple of days ago and more have popped up since then. While some should be coming up now, I don't think any of them should be blooming yet. Our weather is all screwed up.

Greg and I went to lunch when I finally got up and then I went to a performance at the Civic Center. Mark does such a great job finding wonderful things.

This was a tea with Emily Dickinson. The woman portraying Emily Dickinson was fabulous. The "tea" was not fabulous and not even really tea. OK, that beverage was served, but it was not what one expects when they hear "tea." Lets just say styrofoam cups, paper plates and paper napkins were involved.

I was so disappointed. A local company doing "Tea Celebrations" was hired to provide tea. The commission paid her per person to provide tea. I was not the one who made the arrangements for this, but I certainly expected more. The food was bits of scones that were cut up and placed on a three tiered server. If you want to serve small scone, bake them small - don't just chop up regular sized ones. It's tacky and unattractive. Better yet, make small cookies or something else.

There was a paper plate/bowl full of whipped cream, and some tea. I couldn't have any tea because of the caffeine so can't speak to what that was like. It was all served with paper plates and napkins and styrofoam cups. I was very disappointed and would certainly not hire this company to do tea if this is what they think tea is supposed to be. I've done teas as fundraisers, and a nice event requires considerably more effort than this. I wish I had known, I could have brought my china cups and saucers and we could have had a lovely tea.

Fortunately, the main entertainment was fabulous. Pity the tea part of it wasn't up to the same standard. But, the Dickinson part of the afternoon more than made up for the lackluster tea part.

Dr. Sandra Calvin Hastings, who teaches literature at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, portrayed Emily Dickinson and did an amazing job. She was fabulous.

A local antique store provided a small desk and chair. The event was held in the Civic Center. It will be so wonderful when it is restored. I'm planning to do teas there when it's done. But, at the moment there is no heat/air and no running water. However, events we've held there have been successful despite these things. There was a good crowd today.

She gave the audience an opportunity to ask questions of her as Emily Dickinson and then also to ask questions of her as herself.

It was a really interesting afternoon. She said that almost everything she said was something that Emily Dickinson had written - either in a poem or letter or whatever, and that it was different every time.

She had a wonderful, free flowing style - even when answering questions as Emily Dickinson.

She said she first got interested in Dickinson when she moved to Kansas as a 15 year old. She had come to Kansas on the train and so Dickinson's poem about the Iron Horse really struck her.

About this time, she saw a photo of Dickinson that was taken when she was about 16 - it's the only photo they're certain is Dickinson - and was struck by the similarities.

In addition, Dr. Calvin-Hastings said that her grandmother had died shortly before she moved to Kansas and that the photo of Emily Dickinson reminded her even more of her grandmother. That started a lifelong fascination with Dickinson. As she read more about her, she realized that there was a lot written about Dickinson, but she was "still a mystery." That appealed to the scholar.

She was also struck by Dickinson's poems and that there is "so much value in her work for someone experiencing pain and loss."

Calvin-Hastings says she loves research and she loves Dickinson, so this is a great synthesis of the two.

Dickinson wrote 1776 poems in her lifetime, 366 of them in one year - 1862 - the year after the civil war started. Only seven of her poems were published during her lifetime.

She also wrote thousands of letters. It was the custom of the time to destroy correspondence when someone died, in order to keep confidences. But, many people kept Dickinson's letters so they provide more clues about her life.

She lived from 1830-1886, and starting writing poetry at about age 20. She never married and lived as a recluse most of her adult life. She apparently always wore white and bound many of her poems into little booklets called 'fascicles', which she bound herself with needle and thread. She said, "publication is the auction of the mind of man."

Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a family well known for educational and political activity. Her father, an orthodox Calvinist, was a lawyer and treasurer of Amherst College, and also served in Congress. She was educated at Amherst Academy and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.

Dickinson was largely removed from the community, preferring to spend her days writing. She admired Shakespeare, Bronte, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Elliott.

She died of Bright's Disease, but had refused to let the doctor really examine her. When she died, the headline in the local paper the next day was, "The Myth Has Died."

From her poem: Because I could not stop for Death

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

After her death, her poems were collected by friends and family and published. In six years, 11 editions were done because they sold so quickly.

After the event, Teresa and I went down to Diana's store. Just so happened that Taylor, Tom and Lily came in just as we did. Diana was blowing bubbles with Lily and she was quite charmed by them.

Teresa, Diana and I decided to go get some dinner. I called Andrea and Jocelyn to see if they wanted to join us. We also invited Martha. Andrea was able to come so we had a nice foursome.

I spent the rest of the evening doing a little hunting and gathering at Wal-mart and then went to chat with Greg while he ate dinner. I'm just so happy to have been up and about all day, much less to have had quite an interesting afternoon and fun evening.