Tag Archives: history

wondering.

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after walking up to this truck

i wondered about all the stories it could tell

where it’s been, who it carried, what happened

no one knows for sure

all that’s left is to imagine.

what a ride it must have been!

“i like stories that leave you wanting more,

leave you wondering, but don’t tell you everything.”

-viggo mortensen

 

ann arbor – summer 2018

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smithsonian.

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Happy Birthday, Smithsonian!

The Smithsonian was officially created on August 10, 1846,

and one of the first things on the to-do list was constructing a building.

The 1850 glass lantern slide above

is the earliest-known photo of the Smithsonian Institution Building,

known as the Castle, and the only image of it under construction.

Smithsonian Explorers, c. 1862-63, Smithsonian Institution Archives

From the enchanting to the eccentric, the Smithsonian has an extremely rich past. There was even a group of rowdy scientists who used to live in the Smithsonian Castle. In 1857, a zoologist named William Stimpson formed a club of young naturalists aiming to build the Smithsonian’s collection. Their meetings were held in the Smithsonian Castle, and many of the members lived there.

Stimpson named the group the Megatherium Club, after the giant extinct sloth that once roamed South America. Over the years, the club developed somewhat of a rambunctious reputation among neighbors (they were known to drink beer late at night, and had sack races down the Castle halls). They called themselves “great beasts,” much like the sloth that they named themselves after.

Despite their mischief, these men were a dedicated group of naturalists, and we owe them a great deal for contribution their descriptions, classifications and specimens to American science, the Smithsonian, and many other institutions in the U.S.

 

“science doesn’t have all the answers,

but it is good at spotting the important questions

when they are camouflaged against a background of common sense.”

-richard dawkins

 

 credits: smithsonian museums, smithsonian institution archives, smithsonian magazine

falling through the cracks.

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had a great breakfast with family

who returned a file of family history papers

that had traveled on a journey with them

across the seas

 i was happy to see them again

 had the papers in my hand for all of 1 minute

 as i set them down next to me

for safekeeping

they fell into a hidden crack

 just kept going deeper into the abyss

until they were gone

a very kind manager

without judgement

without questions

with a good sense of humor

offered to assist

by moving chairs

pulling the whole table out

taking the booth apart

and retrieving the precious files

intact and none the worse for wear

the family journey continues

with just a short detour.

“cracks especially. you have to be careful of the cracks.

sometimes they are disguised as something else.

a doorway, or a smile or even a winking eye.

and if you fall through them, you never know were you will end up.”

-isabelle carmody – greylands

eat like a genius.

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The Grocery List Sketched by Michelangelo
You can’t sculpt like Michelangelo, but you can eat like him.

In March 1518, Michelangelo feasted on fish and bread. 

ACCORDING TO MICHELANGELO’S SHOPPING LIST, genius thrives on a diet of fish, bread, and lots of wine.

Owned by the Casa Buonarroti museum in Florence, Italy, this 500-year-old list was written and illustrated by the sculptor/painter/poet/personality on the back of a letter. Michelangelo’s servant was likely illiterate, so Michelangelo sketched out what he wanted to eat.

And Michelangelo wanted a feast, spread out over three meals. He depicted bread rolls as quickly-drawn circles, and for one meal, Michelangelo wanted two rolls. For another, he wanted six. On the page, an elegant herring floats in the air, while bowls overflow with salad and anchovies. Two dishes of stewed fennel are sketched side by side, and when asking for a smaller amount of dry wine, Michelangelo carefully drew a small wine jug next to a larger one. Sadly, he did not draw two plates of tortelli—he only asked for the ravioli-like pasta pouches in writing.

The menu consists mostly of vegetables, fish, wine, and bread. This might seem particularly healthy, but the letter on the other side of the list is dated March 18, 1518, around the time of Lent. Since eating meat was frowned upon, Michelangelo ate the requisite vegetables. However, Gillian Riley writes in The Oxford Guide to Italian Food that this was definitely an upscale menu. Despite his frugal reputation, the artist was probably used to dining with nobility.

By 1518, Michelangelo had already finished many of his most famous works, including the Pietà, the David, and the Sistine Chapel ceiling. But among all his work, this rough list is perhaps the most down-to-earth glimpse of the artist himself. It’s interesting to imagine the famously mercurial Michelangelo taking the time to illustrate for his servant what he wanted for dinner.

The survival of this list is remarkable, too. Only around 600 of Michelangelo’s sketches still exist. 1518 marked the year that Michelangelo burned many of his early drawings, and 46 years later, he ordered many of his papers to be torched in anticipation of his death. Maybe he wanted to preserve the aura of divine genius that surrounded his art. A list showing his sketched takeout order might not have given the right impression.

 

“all writing is an act of self-exploration.

even a grocery list says something about you;

how much more does a novel say?”

-steven saylor

 

 

 

credits: atlas obscura/gastro obscura, anne ewebank,Casa Buonarroti- Florence, Italy