Wednesday, June 21, 2017

10,000 Hours

Happy first day of summer! I walked to work and back, just missing a midday sprinkle of rain. Here's what's blooming: Prairie Blue Eyes (lavender lilies), big yellow daisies, purple coneflower, the last of the white anemone, the beginning of the white hosta, the end of the blue & purple spiderwort, and a jillion orange day lilies. I've eaten a few early raspberries. There's work to be done (and hedgehogs to be folded), but I thought I'd fill you in on my recent reading.

I'm participating in the Adult Summer Reading program at the library, which asks us to read around in various genres. I'm reading a novel now, but I've already read my biography and nonfiction. I read The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage, by Daniel Mark Epstein, who also wrote the charming Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington, about the near-miss, across-the-street relationship of the President and the Poet who loved him.

I also read The Death of Expertise, by Tom Nichols, a 5-time Jeopardy champion, as it turns out! My mom will be impressed. (She'd also be impressed by India Cooper, another 5-time champion and an actor I knew in Chicago!!) In The Death of Expertise, Nichols lays out the sad situation in straightforward language and with a common sense approach that also reveals that he's en expert. He sees a great loss of critical thinking among people today, including the college-educated, in part because college has become a consumer product rather than a place to acquire knowledge and learn how to think. This goes side by side with contempt for intellectuals and the "elite," which Nichols tracks for us in popular culture and politics. This book 1) made me sad 2) articulated what I have also observed in America today. Nichols warns that American democracy is in grave danger, reminding us that our democracy is a republic, one in which we elect representatives who should be, er, experts!

Reading the book reminded me of the concept of getting better and better at something by doing it a lot, specifically for 10,000 hours. I realized I am old enough to have developed some expertise in more than one area. I have done 10,000 hours of acting (in a 10+ year "career") and more than 10,000 hours of writing & editing, not to mention reading. I hope I don't spending 10,000 hours making book hedgehogs. (By the way, here is an instruction sheet on how to make the folds for a book hedgehog.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Hedgehogs

I've been busy. And not just making book hedgehogs. I've also been reading books, not just folding their pages into adorable animals. I've been helping our daughter pack and move to Chicago. I've been working, writing, rehearsing for a gala, attending the gala, editing, walking to work again, enjoying the fabulous weather, and, yes, swimming! Swimming with ducks. Ducks like the pool in the early morning. Or they did. Now they're onto us. Humans who swim in the early morning...

Now that I know how to make book hedgehogs, I know what to do with all the books I need to get rid of but can't quite part with, not yet. That's not quite true, I suppose, as these book hedgehogs were made from paperbacks soon to be recycled at the library. One was A Shropshire Lad, by A.E. Housman. and since you can get that easily via Project Gutenberg, I have stuck some blue eyes and backyard grasses into this one.

Hmm, he looks a little like a possum.

Here he is in the woodpile.

Speaking of recycling, I filled a giant recycling bin with my past life, part of a big spring cleaning project that made me confront the big chunks of what I had forgotten. Now I have remembered, briefly, and recycled those same portions of my existence. I do not think I will be teaching again in a college setting, so goodbye to grade books and syllabi! When the time comes, goodbye to book hedgehogs, as well.

What will happen to my blog now? My most viewed post, with 117,498 hits, is Hedgehog Hodgepodge, featuring the popular real-life creature. Now this...