Monday, November 30, 2009

Update on Reading Dante's 'Inferno' ...




Inscription over entryway to Hell, Dante's 'Inferno'

'Inferno', by Franz Von Stuck (Image courtesy of

Dante's 'Inferno' is proving an interesting and challenging read. Kind of puts the fear of Hell and damnation back into you ... although, truth be told, I have a very different view on what Hell is and is not. Still, what a fascinating mind the author of this epic poem has; he also displays perhaps a bit of self-righteousness in his assembling of his cast of characters for appearance in his 'Inferno.'

I'm nearly at the end of the 'Inferno' right now. My reading 7 other books at the same time makes the read go a bit slower. It is hard to read this epic poem at night as well --when I do most of my reading-- as I have a very vivid imagination.  Thus, reading the 'Inferno' at night sometimes gives me the CREEPS!  Creepy or not, however, I feel almost compelled by an insatiable curiousity to read right on to the very end of this 'Divine Comedy' ... Although, thus far, I've not yet seen much comedy in the pain and suffering of others in Dante's contrived Hell.  I am told that the word 'comedy' had a much different meaning in Dante's time.

'Dante and Virgil in Hell', by William Bouguereau (Image Courtesy of

Knowing a bit of history helps, but I did have to do a bit of background reading on Dante in order to understand some of the people that he (the everyman) meets along his journey through Hell. I'm learning quite a bit about allegory through this read. It is also interesting to me how Dante weaves so much Greco-Roman Mythology into his City of Hell. I'll share more as I go along ... I wish I knew someone else who was reading this at same time.  This would be a rather fun read to converse on.

I am also most eager to know more of Dante's beloved Beatrice ...

'Dante and Beatrice', by Marie Spartali Stillman
(Image courtesy of Art

The number "3" has always had a peculiar significance in my own life. Having delved into reading Dante's "Divine Comedy":   I have to think that the number three was significant in Dante's life as well.

12/30/2010   Just now looking back on this ... I never really did follow-up on this, did I?  I need to do some more writing on this fascinating work, don't I? Okay: a follow-up is now officially on my list of "things to do."  Interestingly enough, I was flipping through an art book today and I discovered that Sandro Botticelli  did the original illustrations for Dante's "Divine Comedy".  These illustrations, completed between 1402-1405, were done with pen and ink and something called 'silverpoint'.  I thought the discovery of the artist behind the "Divine Comedy" illustrations was rather serendipitous. I so enjoyed Botticelli's many splendid and varied works when I visited Italy a few years back.  It intrigues me that this talented artist also did the illustrations for what has now become one of my favorite reads of all time.  So now that you know who the artist was behind the illustration for the "Divine Comedy" ... You too can impress your friends with your brilliance ; )

Saturday, November 28, 2009

'Some Like it HOT' Spicy Bean Soup

'Alleluia', By Sir Edward Burne-Jones
(image courtesy of

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can finally say it:  MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

One of my favorite times of year.  So cheerful and festive ... a time of reawakening
of goodwill among men.

[This breathtaking painting reminds me of the beautiful Angel Gabriel that sits atop our tree each year.]

Song: Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley

We took our left over smoked turkey legs (from the Thanksgiving Day bird) and made a delicious bean soup for dinner tonight.  Perfect, easy meal to offset overeating on Turkey Day.  : )  We're also trying to set up our Christmas tree tonight -- or at least get started -- so an easy meal is just what we needed.  If you're interested, here is the recipe, with photo courtesy of Lauren:

[note: photo is misleading: this is truly a soup.]

'Some Like it HOT' Spicy Bean Soup

2 cans pinto or chilli beans (NOT drained)
2 can Amy's Lentil bean soup (NOT drained)
1 can black beans (drained)

1 can petite cut tomatoes (NOT drained)
2/3 cup Soy Sauce
1 and 1/2 cup Red Wine (cab, shiraz, merlot, etc. ... just not concentrated cooking wine -- use less if this)
2 cups water
3 tbsp. olive oil (EV is best)
1 or 2 finely chopped serano peppers (1 gives moderately spicy ... but 2 is best in my book : )
1/4 of a medium purple onion

1 to 2 tsp. of salt (salt is a funny thing ... some like it a lot, others not so much. Just add one tsp., then add more --as you desire-- to taste. Note: the Soy Sauce already provides a sound salty base ... so don't overdo!)

3-4 turns fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped bacon (I prefer turkey bacon) or cubed dark meat turkey legs or ham ( I add just a little for flavor: we eat a lot of vegitarian, but if you love meat add 2/3 cup or more as you so desire)

Bring to a low boil and then cook over medium heat for at least 50 min. Some stoves run hotter than others, so if the soup is boiling wildly turn it down to med-low. Reduce to low and let simmer for another 10-15 min. to bring temperature down for eating. Serve over rice.

Enjoy!  I'm off to finish helping with the tree ...


P.S.  Okay has everyone, in my extended family -- except for me --  already got their tree up now?!  You all have way too much drive, time and energy!  : )  Think next year: I'll just pull out my Charlie Brown tree and beat ya'll to the finish.

Late p.m. ... okay our 'Charlie Brown' Tree is up.  Still working on setting up the 9 ft. artificial douglas fir that somehow manages to come out of 52" x 12" x 13" box each year (i.e., requires a lot of 'fluffing' and repositioning of branches and twigs).  Lights and decorations will have to wait until tomorrow.  We wrapped things up around 8 p.m. and watched the 'Polar Express' movie (Animated with Tom Hanks) while sipping hot coaco.  Fun!  Hope you and yours had fun setting up your trees, etc. as well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Supersonic Anyone?

I know:  I'm supposed to be packing!  Need a break though: I hate packing, way too many decisions to make.

While I'm taking a short break, I happen see this press release ...

"The first F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant touches down at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., on Sunday, Nov. 15. The supersonic stealth fighter will immediately begin test flights that will lead to hovers and vertical landings in the coming weeks."

(PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company)
Now this looks like a fun one to work on.  Miss the excitement.  Something to think about as I contemplate finishing up my Master Degree.  Wonder what it's like to fly one of  these?!?  Used to regularly fly fighter jet simulators as part of my job.  I was great at the flying part; was not so hot on the landings.  ; ) 
Back to packing ... joyful day to you!

A Prayer ...

'A Prayer to God', By Louis Welden Hawkins (Image Courtesy of

Recently found out that another friend of mine has a father with cancer.  Never easy news to get or digest.  You want to empathize ... and be sincere, but there is no way of really knowing, or feeling, what those impacted by this terrible news truly feel.  Difficult. 

One thing that I can do, however, is to pray.  I truly believe in the power of prayer.  I've personally seen it work too many times not to believe.  So, I have begun praying again. 

Times like these remind me, that I have so much to be grateful for ... that my own personal problems pale significantly by comparison to someone who is now in position to take on the fight of their life ... and to those who will fight by their side.

Times like these remind me how important connections are ...

God Bless you Paul and your father.  Know that I'll be storming Heaven for you!


"The pursuit of knowledge is a joy, often producing unexpected treasures along the way. If however, I had to choose between faith and knowledge: I would not hesitate to give up knowledge. For without my faith and a direct connection to a Creator, I would be but an empty shell that would quickly shrivel up and simply blow away in the winds of nothingness." ~Me 11/17/09

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dante's 'Inferno' ... To Read or Play?

In keeping with my honest efforts to give the poet's another try ... I am planning on (finally!) reading Dante's masterpiece, 'Inferno' ... the epic poem which I seem to know so very little about.  I'm tired of being in the dark on this ... there are so many allusions to this epic poem ... epsecially in art -- which I am also trying to come up to speed on.  Witness, for example, this chilling painting ...

'Pablo and Francesca', by George Frederic Watts (Image Courtesy of

So anyway, I'm on-line looking for info on buying this book [ 'Inferno' is actually the first part of Dante's 'Divine Comedy'] or perhaps even finding a copy on-line to read ... At the very top of my search return is the following -- I KID YOU NOT(!!) :

"Dante's Inferno Demo Announced
23:06 November 11th, 2009

529 Views - View related homepage

To be released this December

Electronic Arts the upcoming December release of a PS3 and X360 demo for Dante's Inferno, a third-person action adventure adaptation of the medieval epic poem The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. The demo includes the entire opening level and two cinematic movies. The game is in the works at EA Redwood Shores, the studio behind Dead Space. Dante's Inferno will be available in North America beginning on February 9, 2010 and in Europe on February 12, 2010."

Apparently, Dante's famous work will now be reduced the realm of the gaming industry?  Culture for the masses?  Looks interesting, no?  Perhaps, I should just wait and play the game?  : )

[ Here's the official game site ... if you're interested:  Dante's Inferno Official Game Site .  The graphics on this are astounding!  Creepy!  Too realistic ... I wouldn't want to visit. ]

I wonder ... would Dante Alighieri be flattered that his beloved work was being turned into a computer game, or revolted?  Well, if nothing else, the game may provide some interesting insights into the interpretation of this complex poem? What do you think? 

Life is full of interesting surprises ... embrace them!

Peaceful day to you and yours.


P.S. 11/15/2009  I found a copy of  'The Divine Comedy' in paperback today ... I start my read tonight.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let Freedom Ring!

'The parade of colors enters the Memorial Amphitheater'

Song: 'Torch of Freedom', By Restless Heart

Written By, Michelle C. @2009
(2:00 a.m.)

Freedom is no abstract notion; it is rather the life blood of this great nation in which we, as Americans, are privileged to live and thrive.

Freedom is a hard won right. It is a gift given by those who have so bravely served in the past. It is a gift preserved by those willing to serve in our armed forces today.

Yet, it is so very easy for Americans to take for granted the many freedoms that we, as Americans, have in this day and age of unsurpassed and exoteric technology. We often forget the roots of the hard won freedom that we now enjoy. We forget that without our freedom there would be no United States of America as we know it today.

Therefore, let us pause today to reflect upon this most cherished gift of freedom. Let us then go beyond reflection and express our gratitude with action. Let us make our heartfelt appreciation known to the brave men and women of our armed forces: to those who have served, as well as to those who are currently serving. Let us also express our thanks to those who support those who serve: the family members of our military personnel.

May God continue to bless America, land of the free and home of the brave. May her freedom continue to ring for many generations to come. And may God bless all Veteran's, past and present, this Veteran's Day 2009 and throughout the upcoming year ahead.

My Dad (above photo: as Major;
next photo is his early enlistment at age of 18)

I am so grateful for my father and for his distinguished 23 years of service in the United States Air Force, and for my husband who served four years in the United States Army. A heartfelt thanks to both of my grandfathers who also served in the armed forces during WWII.

Two of my uncles have also served in Vietnam:  Denny and Bruce.  Thank you both.  Your service is truly appreciated!

To father's of friends I have known, thank you for your long careers of service in the United Air Force:  Mr. Bob W., Mr. Bob M. , and Mr. Harry W. 

And to Bruce W... -- wherever you are-- for your service in the National Guard.

To friends I have known in the past, Pat and Troy, who I have heard --via Kathy and Eileen -- are currently serving: a heartfelt thanks to you as well. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers for your safety and the safety and well being of those that you love.

To those that I have had the pleasure of meeting on many flights to and from Texas: among those Lt. xxx and SSgt. xxxx, a sincere THANKS to you too! (Put you guys in my book Lt. Bravo and SSgt. Pitts ... don't worry, you guys are the good guys.  : ).

All of you are in my ongoing thoughts and prayers. God Bless!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ft. Hood Memorial Service Honors 13 Fallen Soldiers

I was able to watch the broadcast of the memorial service held at Ft. Hood today. It was a fitting tribute for the 13 who gave their lives that tragic day ... just a few days ago ... Nov. 5, 2009. Ten were men and three were women, ranging in ages from just out of high school to retired and recently re-enlisted. One was an expectant mother, expecting her first child.

President Obama gave a moving eulogy. He said that these thirteen fallen soldiers were brave men and women ... and that they like so many other soldiers were "Americans who had been called to answer an extraordinary call to serve their comrades, communities, and their country."

"Men and women from many races, faiths, and stations of life united to accomplish a common goal: preservation of the freedom that we know and have come to cherish. "

"But here is what you must also know: your loved ones endure through the life of our nation. Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. Their life’s work is our security, and the freedom that we too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – that is their legacy.

Neither this country – nor the values that we were founded upon – could exist without men and women like these thirteen Americans. And that is why we must pay tribute to their stories."

These soldiers, and those who continue to serve, inspire us and remind us what it truly means to be an American. May God bless the families who have lost Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Sons and Daughters. May He grant them comfort in their time of need. May God also bless America, its leaders, and those who continue to serve our great nation in order to uphold the freedom that we so cherish.

Song: 'Amazing Grace', By 48th Highlanders Pipes and Drums

For further info on the Presidents speech visit the White House Blog:

As much as this tragedy truly saddens me, it does --hopefully-- serve as a reminder to those of us left behind, that we should stop and look beyond our own little bubbles of concern ... look beyond ourselves to the greater world beyond us and to those LIVING in it.  We all have it within us to aspire to something greater ...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

National Championship countdown ... It's getting closer!

GO TCU HORNED FROGS!  Most impressive ... a non-BCS team, not just in the top 10, but the top 5!

Song: 'We are the Champions'


"Horned Frogs Leap into top four of BCS

Mike Huguenin College Football Editor

For the second week in a row, Alabama and Texas switched places in the BCS standings, with the Tide this week moving up to second and the Longhorns falling to third.
Florida remains No. 1, and the Gators and Crimson Tide will meet Dec. 5 in the SEC championship game. Texas is in the driver's seat for the Big 12 South title, and the top three teams are far ahead of the rest of the BCS field.
Here is the BCS top 12, with the school, its ranking last week, its spot in the coaches' poll, its spot in the Harris poll and its BCS computer average. A bonus: We've included NCAA strength of schedule (SOS), which is not part of the BCS formula..

Team (LW) Harris Coaches Comp. SOS

1. Florida (1) 1st 1st 1st T-18th

2. Alabama (3) 3rd 3rd 2nd 24th

3. Texas (2) 2nd 2nd 5th T-39th

4. TCU (6) 4th 4th 4th T-45th

5. Cincinnati (5) 5th 5th 3rd 73rd

6. Boise St. (7) 6th 6th 6th 100th

7. Ga. Tech (10) 7th 7th 7th 56th

8. LSU (9) 11th 11th 8th T-28th

9. USC (12) 10th 10th 11th 44th

10. Iowa (4) 12th 13th 9th T-28th

11. Ohio St. (16) 8th 8th T-13th 33rd

11. Pitt (13) 9th 9th T-13th 12th

Iowa's loss to Northwestern dropped the Hawkeyes from fourth to 10th in the BCS standings, and TCU was the beneficiary. The Horned Frogs climbed from sixth to fourth, with Cincinnati remaining in fifth.
Boise State is the lowest of the six unbeatens, at sixth in the BCS standings.

TCU remains the highest-ranked team from a non-Big Six league. A non-Big Six team is guaranteed a BCS spot in two ways. One is if it finishes in the top 12; the other is if it is ranked in the top 16 and its ranking is higher than that of a conference champion with an automatic berth. This week, the Horned Frogs are higher than any team from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten and Pac-10. "

And so the drama continues ... (whatever will men do when college football season ends?)   I must say, I am a bit relieved -- that Texas and Alabama flipped, putting Texas at number 3 now.  I don't want the National Championship to wind up being University of Florida vs. University of Texas ... have enough drama in my personal life already?!

But way to go TCU! (from my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas)  Horned Frogs rock!  Hard work pays off, no?!

The final games are up and coming.  Texas has had a whimpy schedule so far this far this far this year.  Oklahoma was probably their hardest game.  A&M is this weekend, but doubt they'll give Texas a real game?  Never know:  it could happen.  According to Ken, U of Florida has to face Alabama in the weeks ahead ... a sort of SEC championship.  He says that whoever wins that game will probably wind up playing Texas for the National Championship.  So basically, unless Texas screws up:  they're in.  Must be nice!  We'll see what happens.  That is one of the things that I DO LIKE about college football -- vs. pro; the fact that the unexpected can and often does happen.  Guess, I'll just keep biting my finger nails for the next few weeks -- just figuratively, course!  : )



Friday, November 06, 2009

Girls' Night: Halloween Fun 2009

Finally got a chance to go through some of the photos that I WAS ABLE to take on Halloween night.  Surprised I had time to take any:  Girls ages 8-11 really know how to keep you hopping?!!!! 

But we had blast!  It was a riot of a sleepover:  Trick or Treating, eating way too much candy, making microwave smores, decorating designer wine glasses with permanent markers, popping lots of balloons (drove me nuts by the end of the night!), learning line dances, telling scary tales, and watching scary movies.  Hope you and yours had fun too!  : )

Song: 'I put a spell on you ...', By Nina Simone

[ Slideshow removed ] . . .

P.S. Here's a link to some Halloween tunes from Playlist.  Check them out, if you have time ... some good songs!

Enjoy!  : )

Zombie Cheerleader

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tragic Shooting at Fort Hood, Texas

'Protective Angels', By Harold Hitchcock (Image Courtesy of

My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to all involved involved in the tragic shooting at Fort Hood, in central Texas, earlier this afternoon.

One can only imagine the incredible strain that these soldiers are already under, to begin with, and now this.

May God Bless all soldiers and their families directly involved in this tragic incident ... as well as all who proudly serve -- and support those who serve -- our country faithfully, day after day. May He especially bring comfort to those who have lost their loved ones in this shooting today.

Things relating to Texas (my home) and the military (having grown up as a 'military brat') hit close to home for me.  I will be sure to keep praying for all soldiers and their loved ones.

God Bless!