Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge on the Missouri River
2010 was a pretty good year. 

I rediscovered Victorian novels, read a number of well-written contemporary books, discovered Michael Dirda's reviews in The Washington Post of everything from poetry to genre books, and wrote/scrawled 125 blog entries.  

Resolutions for 2011:  
1.  Keep a closer eye on what other bloggers are reading.  Ellen is reading Elizabeth Gaskell's My Lady Ludlow and I plan to read along. A few years ago I read Wives and Daughters with her and very much enjoyed it.  Her two blogs,  Reveries under the Sign of Austen and Ellen and Jim Have a Blog, Two, are revelatory, personal, and erudite.  

I don't "accept" blog challenges, because there is too much I want to read on my own, but I very much enjoyed reading Anna Karenina along with A Work in Progress and Doctor Zhivago more or less simultaneously with Nonsuch Books.  (I was about to start Dr. Zhivago when Buried in Print kindly informed me of the group read.  It was fun.)
Seven Highlights of 2010 (In Which I Spend a Lot of Time in Nebraska):
Self-Portrait by Kent Bellows
  1. Visited Bess Streeter Aldrich's home.  I wrote on my blog on July 22: "Bess Streeter Aldrich (1881-1954), author of A Lantern in Her Hand, is less well-known than the flamboyant, brilliant Willa Cather [whose house we visited last year in Red Cloud], but equally beloved by those of us who enjoy her quieter writing.  Today, feeling literary, we drove to Elmwood, Nebraska, population 300, the town where Bess, who grew up in Cedar Falls, Iowa, lived most of her adult life." 
  2. Taught Latin.  This is the most important (?) project I undertook this year.  Since classics departments are no longer valued at many universities and high schools, I started a mini-program. Twenty-six people of all ages--well, mostly older, I'll admit--studied Latin to increase their vocabulary, read a little literature (a few poems by Catullus and excerpts from Virgil), and to decode a mysterious dead language.  I got great evaluations, which pleased me.  Teaching is not my vocation, but I still remember a professor's prediction that lovers of classics with bachelor's and master's degrees would be important in the future.  Okay, I've done my duty.  It very much amused my students that I told them it was my officium.
  3. Went to a fabulous Shakespeare festival.  We try to see a few plays every year.
  4. Saw the spectacular Kent Bellows exhibit, "Beyond Realism:  The Works of Kent Bellows, 1970-2005,"  at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha.  The Omaha artist's hyperrealistic paintings look like photographs and portray different stages of his life as well as wives and family members who manifest a variety of moods.  His wife looks very pissed off in some later paintings.  Very sad and disturbing exhibition.  We eavesdropped on some people who knew Bellows.
  5. Also saw the Currier & Ives exhibit at the Joslyn Art Museum.  These prints are surprisingly effective when seen together.  The Joslyn website says:  "The foremost lithographers in America from the mid to late 1800s, Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888) and James Merritt Ives (1824-1895) were the "photojournalists" of the 19th century. Altogether, their firm, Currier & Ives, created between 7,000 and 8,000 scenes that were reproduced as hand-colored prints that sold in uncounted millions of copies — at one point 95 percent of all lithographs in circulation in the United States were theirs. Because of Currier & Ives, mid-19th-century America was documented more completely than any other time and place in history before the widespread use of photography." 
  6. Walked across the Bob Kerrey aerial bridge between Omaha and Council Bluffs. A 3000-ft. footbridge across the Missouri River.
  7. Took a number of lovely bike rides in a couple of states.  Yes, we did have some breakdowns, but we rode thousands of miles through fields and woods and saw cows, corn, soybeans, wild turkeys, geese, deer, refurbished depots at trail stops, and pretty and ugly little towns.
Happy New Year, everybody!


Anonymous said...

This is a good idea. I'll try to think of things I did this year that I feel good about. Ellen

Frisbee said...

We've both had tough times, but the work and delight in vocations and avocations go on.

Happy New Year!