As much as I love my garden and want to work in it every day, July is always the month it looks it’s worst, and I don’t want to go out there. Anything that bloomed in late spring or early summer has finished it’s run and dried up. The sycamore tree is shedding bark, and this year is the worse than any I can remember. I have bushes to be cut back, roses to deadhead, and berry bushes to tie up to supports, but I’m not doing any of it. I have found that I can’t work in the heat like I used to, and since I’m a night person, I don’t get up early enough to go out in the mornings. That leaves me digging weeds between seven and eight in the evening, and puts dinner after that.
After doing two online collage workshops in the spring, I have one of my work tables set up for collage and usually do several small ones each week. I’m also playing with watercolor paint.
To add some new interest to being at home all the time I spent about a week considering getting a cat. It was kitten season and the neighborhood email feed had lots of kittens looking for a home. I couldn’t decide, almost went to see one, but then in a moment of sanity, I remembered how annoying it is to have a cat who insists on being in the center of my work table whenever I’m working on art.
At the beginning of July, when the newsletter from the local astronomy club appeared in my email late one evening it contained an offer to borrow a telescope from the club. Impulsively, I replied I might be interested, and the next week one of the members backed his truck into my driveway and unloaded a large, heavy scope that he said would use the built-in computer to find the planets and stars I wanted to see. It was much bigger than I expected from the photo in the newsletter.
When I got around to moving it to the center of the patio a week later and tried it out, it couldn’t find anything. I could see Jupiter with my own eyes, but couldn’t find it in the scope. When the fella came to get it, he brought another scope that would not be quite as heavy, and not motorized so it should be easier for me. Unfortunately, the previous borrower had not returned the eyepieces that went with it, so I could find Jupiter in the finder scope, but nothing in the main scope. During the day I practiced using it by focusing on the dead tree in the yard behind me. The wires across the backyard access line are in excellent condition, but again, at night all I saw was dull brown no matter how I turned the focus knob.
At that point, I noticed that my neck and back were complaining about how I was standing at this thing and trying to move it around with knobs that I could barely reach. The man came back and retrieved the scope, suggesting something smaller. I said no, I had learned what I needed to learn: this activity was going to require me to study star charts and measurements, and be way more work than I wanted to put in to it.
I would guess we are all reading more than we did a year ago. I have been reading about the early 1940’s during WWII. In my blog of December 31, 2019, I wrote about a fictional work about Varian Fry, an American who went to France during this time to help artists get out of Europe to safer countries.
I read a review of “A Woman of No Importance” by Sonia Purnell and ordered it from Amazon. This is the story of Virginia Hall, an American woman who had studied in Europe, fell in love with France, and became a diplomat to try to help the French people. She worked for Britain, and later for United States when we entered the war, to coordinate activities to support the resistance movement. It is a fascinating story.
Some years ago, I had acquired a book called “The Shameful Peace, How French Artists and Intellectuals survived the Nazi Occupation” by Frederic Spotts. A short while after I started reading the book about Virginia Hall, I decided I’d read this one at the same time. This book was in the dining room to read at lunch and dinner, the other was in my bedroom.
And as I’m reading these two books this last month, I noticed some similarities between that time and now. Germany had invaded France after taking over Belgium and Luxembourg. They occupied the northern part of France, which included Paris where many of the cultural activities were located. Germany was trying to take over Poland and Russia, so they set up a sort of provisional government in Vichy with Marshall Petain as president, who did what he was told, but tried to protect the cultural life of the French people.
Theaters, concerts, opera, and some galleries were allowed to continue but were required to include some German music and plays. The German military often filled so many seats at events that ordinary French people couldn’t get a ticket. Some publishing was allowed but censored. The idea was to get the people used to German music, values, and ideas through the cultural venues so they would experience how superior Germans were.
There were French people who collaborated with the Germans, some were fascists, some were just afraid. There were people who kept quiet and tried to live so they wouldn’t be noticed, because the Gestapo were arresting men and deporting them to Germany as workers to produce arms and whatever the German military needed to keep going.
And there were the resisters who were working secretly to sabotage German operations in France, squirreling away equipment, guns, and ammo to be used once the Allies invaded and came to their aide.
Where do I see similarities to today? Our culture has been hi-jacked with all the glorification of violence, our music is loaded with filth’ or not even understandable, and I certainly can’t sing along with it.
My local newspaper has been bought out several times and now there is virtually nothing in it but COVID articles, speculation on what our president might do, and maybe one local photo item. Very little about what is going on in the rest of the world.
Personally, since when is it Google’s business to send my emails to spam instead of the in-box, and label them with bright red warnings not to open them because they are dangerous?
My favorite sentence in “The Shameful Peace” is on page 68: “People who think for themselves are a nuisance to any government.” If ever there was a time for us to be a nuisance to government, national and state wide, it is now.
Don’t believe everything you hear and read.
Think for yourself.