Friday, September 14, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L’Engle—one of my most favorite authors of all time—died of natural causes earlier this week. Although I was momentarily sad and shocked when I heard the announcement on NPR, it almost seems an insult to lament the loss. She lived a long, meaningful, creative life and died peacefully. What more could a person ask for?

I am simply going to take this moment instead to remember and celebrate her life and works.

I always found her novels to be rather insightful into the condition of humanity. One of my favorite quotes (also listed on my facebook profile) is uttered by Aunt Beast in A Wrinkle in Time: "We do not know what things look like, as you say," the beast said. "We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing."

In A Wind in the Door, Blajeny constantly asks Meg “What is real?” There is a deep human need to look beyond empirical evidence, even beyond reason itself at times to discover what is reality. Even Blaise Pascal once said, “The heart has its reasons, whereof reason knows nothing.”

And of course, love has always been a main theme running throughout L’Engle’s novels, with love ultimately overpowering and overshadowing evil.

I always loved the sense of interconnectedness that the whole universe had in L’Engle’s novels, from the galaxies of stars burning light years away, to the well-being of our mitochondria at the cellular level. The battle between good and evil finds no corner of the universe untouched or unaffected. In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, a tribal boy, a young Puritan settler, a Civil War vet, a mad modern-day South American dictator, are all deeply connected by free will, choosing light over darkness, good over evil. And although the immediate effect of such decisions seems monumental only to the one making the decisions, the ramifications of each choice ultimately have an effect on the fate of humanity. The consequence of each young man’s choice unquestionably “echoes in eternity.”

L’Engle puts these reluctant heroes in these fantastic, otherworldly experiences, and seems to declare that we are all caught up in something larger than ourselves and there is simply no escaping it. The question is not whether or not we’re a part of the story—we most definitely are—but rather how we choose to participate in it.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

the tragic fate of Aragogette

It has been an exciting—albeit moribund—week here at Lake Hart. (This is turning into Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet… seriously)

First of all, Aragogette perished yesterday at the hand of Pedro the Maintenance Guy. After putting up an admirably staunch fight against her impending doom, the pressure washer inevitably got the best of her. After her beautiful web was decisively Aguamentied, she fell two stories, and her egg sac suffered the same fate. To add insult to serious injury, Pedro lowered his mechanical crane and decisively—nay, maliciously—squished her with his workboot.

Watching their mother meet such a cruel end, I felt compelled to rescue the orphaned egg sac as it lay forlornly on the sidewalk, probably the result of some idealistic notion planted in their by E.B. White himself.

Of course I didn’t want to touch it, so Carrie and I merely chipped it Tiger Woods-style into the bushes using first and umbrella and then a stick. So we probably did more damage to an already damaged egg sac. But at least my conscience is clear.

Then today, I passed a mostly-dead grey fox lying in the middle of the quad, on top of the freshly-trimmed Astroturf (Or whatever it is they cover the lawn with these days). I surely hope the fox was not Wentworth! But the reason I noticed it was the trio of buzzards that congregated near the corpse-ish fox. Then the maintenance compadres came by once again to dispose of the body in a black garbage bag. Carrie and I were amused at the disappointed buzzards, who actually looked quite bewildered at having their potential meal so casually stripped away from them.

So… you just never know what’s going to happen at "the Office."

(Cue the Scrantones……)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

an apology to the arachnophobic....

There’s a banana spider living outside of our office window.

We’ve named it Aragogette, after Aragog from the Harry Potter books. The suffix has been added for obvious reasons.

I know that it’s probably a mistake to name a living thing, because I always inevitably end up attached to the named thing. Working at this office affords many opportunities to get attached to animals. For example, there is a rather large armadillo that often meanders around the quad. Naomi has named him Fitzwilliam. And I have dubbed a rather dashing grey fox that is seen skulking about on campus to be Wentworth (And bravo to you Jane Austen fans, as you’ve undoubtedly picked up on a pattern here…) Also, there was a family of four sandhill cranes that used to stalk the fields, named Harv and Marv by Karen. Carrie and I named their two babies (never figured out what a baby crane is called) Stuff and Nonsense, but then we’re pretty sure a gator got a hold of either Stuff or Nonsense, since the family was reduced to three. Unfortunately, the name just doesn’t sound as great with either Stuff or Nonsense missing. Plus we’re not even sure which one got nabbed by the gator.

In short, we get rather attached to the wildlife that we see here at work. It’s kind of pathetic, until I think this is probably something Jim and Pam would do at their workplace and suddenly I don’t feel like such a loser;)

After consulting Wikipedia, I was pretty sure that the spider was a female, because she seemed a lot larger than the other dozen spiders we’ve seen hanging onto webs between the trees that line the sidewalk leading from the parking lot to the office entranceway.

And that suspicion was confirmed when I arrived at work today to see that Aragogette’s egg sac tucked away in the corner of the building.

I sure hope she makes it, because yesterday the maintenance guy Pedro was power washing the windows and he came awfully close to Aragogette’s stomping grounds. Five windows away.

I never thought I would actually be on a spider’s side.

But I guess I am!

Oh and in case you haven’t heard about the sprawling, hundreds of yards-long and wide communal spider web in Texas… check out this link. Crazy.

Sorry if you don’t like spiders. They still creep me out. I am pretty sure I hate them.

Just not Aragogette.

And maybe Charlotte too...