Entries from December 2009

Building a Log Cabin in One Man’s Wilderness

Comments   2   Date Arrow  December 26, 2023 at 1:56pm   User  by Mark Willis

The memory of Dick Proenneke has been  a welcome presence this Christmas. I gave Brendan a copy of One Man’s Wilderness, and on Christmas Eve, Ms. M and I watched the PBS documentary based on the book and Dick’s vintage film footage. I’m fascinated by the solo process he developed for documenting his cabin-building in [...]

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Noel: Notre Dame de Paris

Comments   0   Date Arrow  December 25, 2023 at 12:05am   User  by Mark Willis

Notre Dame de Paris shimmers on a December night. [Photo by  M. Bob] And so do the radiant voices of the Anonymous 4 [Miracles of Compostela: Congaudeant Catholici]

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Praying for a Piano Player

Comments   9   Date Arrow  December 24, 2023 at 2:00pm   User  by Mark Willis

Every family with an oral tradition has a story that is told and re-told at Christmas until it acquires the power of myth. This is mine. It tells how my grandmother, Ona Willis, joined the Salvation Army.
It was a rainy night in Columbus, Ohio on Christmas Eve in 1944. All three of Ona’s sons were [...]

Tagged   Playing by Ear · memoirComments  Add Your Comment

A Cacophony of Cranes Made Me a True Believer

Comments   0   Date Arrow  December 13, 2023 at 11:33am   User  by Mark Willis

Every December a  dark moment comes when I tell myself that I’m too old for cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood.  This moment arrives with the first ice storm of winter, when I need to work outside in marginal conditions with cold, wet hands to do something that should have been finished two months sooner. That’s [...]

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Cranking Up Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine

Comments   0   Date Arrow  December 10, 2023 at 5:29pm   User  by Mark Willis

Some years back when I read The Difference Engine, the “alternate history” novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, I thought Charles Babbage was just a fanciful blip in the authors’ metaverse. Later I learned that Babbage was the real deal, an iconoclastic prophet of modern computer science. The novel’s computing machine chugged and clanked [...]

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The King Is Dead. Long Live The Herons!

Comments   0   Date Arrow  December 9, 2023 at 8:16pm   User  by Mark Willis

The statistics are staggering for the wine auction at La Tour d’Argent, the venerable Left Bank restaurant with a 27-room wine cellar [left; photo by David Queen/Wikipedia]. The auction fetched more than a million euros, according to AFP. A bottle of Vieux Cognac Le Clos Griffier  sold for €25,000, according to the Globe and Mail. [...]

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To Kiki the Lascivious Tortoise, Adieu

Comments   0   Date Arrow  December 8, 2023 at 7:29am   User  by Mark Willis

“France was in mourning today for one of its oldest and best-loved lotharios, a giant tortoise named Kiki, who died at the age of 146.”

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Looking Back (Demurely) Over A Quarter Million Page Views

Comments   3   Date Arrow  December 6, 2023 at 3:45pm   User  by Mark Willis

This site crossed a quantitative threshold last night when it surpassed 250,000 page views. It was almost two years to the day when I installed the WordPress.com stat counter to measure Internet traffic here, and a little more than seven months since the count reached 100,000. On that occasion I reposted Degas’s Spartan Girls Provoking [...]

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Is An Audiobook Really a Book?

Comments   2   Date Arrow  December 1, 2023 at 8:58pm   User  by Mark Willis

I see red whenever I run into the pompous assertion that reading by listening to a book read aloud is not really reading. Then I ask (loudly, of course, to anyone who will listen), how did I read Ulysses (three times in as many decades) and Finnegans Wake (not quite once, completely)? How did I [...]

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