December 25th. Happy Holidays to everyone who has a holiday around now, which is most everyone, if not entirely. For those who’ve managed to escape all that, Happy Monday. We’ve definitely got a white one, as in the old song. Granted, the snow is falling sideways, which often happens down here in a river gorge in the Mohawk valley. Probably something about the way the gorge channels the wind, but it can get quite dramatic, and especially when it’s snowing.
First Reader bought me a DNA test as a Yule present so we can find out if I’m really human. I mean, probably, but now and then over the years I’ve had my doubts, as have those nearest and dearest, hence the test. Whatever it turns out to be, I know I’ll never be as English as she is. She tests out as more English than most of the people actually born there, with a little Irish, Italian, and Finnish/Slavic thrown in. Regardless, we can now settle the matter of my genetic classification, even if we’re still working on all the others.
Be all that as it may, I hope you’re having a happy whatever you celebrate, or just a really fine day. I think we’re all due one.
View of the Pinta and Nina Replicas, Hudson River 2017
Photo by Carol Parks
Friday we took a trip to Albany to visit replicas of two of Columbus’ three ships, the Pinta and the Nina, docked on the Hudson River. It’s the sort of thing anyone with more than a passing interest in history tends to do (Remember the viking ship? Yes, sort of like that). In case you were wondering about the third ship, the Santa Maria? There isn’t one. A replica, that is. Since it never made it back, no one’s entirely sure what it looked like. Plus Columbus hated it, which is why he spent more time on the Nina, despite its small size. Or because of it. He considered the Santa Maria too big, clumsy, and slow. As for the Pinta, apparently Columbus hated its captain, Martín Alonso Pinzón. Some accounts say this was why the ship was named the Pinta, which translates as something a bit rude.
At this point we might as well address the elephant in the room. Columbus’ crimes against the people he met in the New World are well documented and I’m not going to deny, defend, or rehash them here. Yet there’s a perspective to history you don’t really get from a book, important as books are. Take a good look at the two ships in the photo above, then compare them to the speedboats and small pleasure craft with them at the dock, and you soon realize something important–those ships are tiny. Yet over five hundred years ago about fifty men willingly got into those craft and sailed out into the wild Atlantic Ocean to they knew not what. Say what you will about their moral failings, that took some cojones.
Looking back at it all now, it occurs to me that the life lessons a child learns while trying to turn into an adult can be downright screwy. Here are a few things I picked up on the journey:
- Always tell the truth. Except when you shouldn’t. For instance, the answer to the question “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” is never, ever “No, not really.”
- Be Creative. Except when you shouldn’t. This was when I learned that an improvised flamethrower is not the best method for removing a wasp’s nest. It works, but the collateral damage can be significant.
- Understand that what seems normal and natural to you likely won’t be to everyone. For instance, when I was a kid, I often wondered what it would be like to be someone else. How was the world I saw and experienced different for them? How was my sisters’, or my uncle’s reality different or the same? Expressing the thought was not a good idea. People worried about me.
- Repeating a word in mixed company you heard your uncle use? A very not good idea.
Things I learned as an adult:
- I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did.
- The grown-ups I knew as a child were, as the movie said, “Making it up as they go, just like I was.” Wish I’d known that at the time.
- Growing up is highly overrated. I can’t recommend it.
I won’t call this something I learned, just a piece of new information (well, it was new to me): I have a Wikipedia page now. I have no idea how it got there. The information is superficial, naturally, but mostly accurate. Read it while you can, because it’s being considered for deletion. And here I thought I’d “arrived.” Richard Parks.
Other than the more affected pronounciation? Beats me. Memes are only sometimes silent and not always annoying, whereas….
In honor of and surrender to all the memeage floating around from now to Doomsday, I will reluctantly answer five questions that nobody asked:
2) Once, but I was still at the “hormones with feet” stage (college). And I’d been drinking.
4) A raven.
5) Parke Godwin, Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber, Ursula LeGuin, Peter Beagle and Andre Norton.
There. Done now.