Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Estes Park Wool Market

Last weekend, Kathy and I took our youngest daughter, Hannah, to Estes Park for the annual Wool Market. On exhibit were all manner of wool/fiber-producing animals. There were also workshops and demonstrations of such things as sheep shearing, spinning, and weaving. Everything was fascinating, but the highlight of the afternoon had to be the demonstration of working sheep dogs. We saw how the dogs are trained, as well as the variations in how the different breeds work the sheep.

We saw many varieties of fiber-producing animals, including sheep and goats—and even yaks and angora rabbits. Then there were the camelids, namely the llamas, alpacas, and paco vicunas. The paco vicunas—related to the alpaca—produce very fine wool that goes for $1000 an ounce. At one time it was reserved for Inca royalty. If you'd like more information about these interesting creatures, check out this link.


As you can see, the baby animals are adorable. Hannah enjoyed seeing them and petting them. Many of the llamas were shorn in ways that made them look like poodles. As the owners or handlers led the llamas into the show arena, the animals looked like overgrown poodles!

We met a man named Switzer, who owns a paco-vicuna and alpaca farm called Switzer Land Farm (the link to his web site is the one above). Ironically (for those of you who know we are originally from Ohio), he was born in Cleveland. The logo for their farm comes from the Switzer Land Trail, a railway that was built to service the mining towns around Boulder at the turn of the 19th century. We had a nice discussion, and we each related how our families had made their way west and settled in Colorado.

One of the surprises at the Estes Park Wool Market was the presence of yaks. Although yak wool is not as fine as that of other wool producers, it is still quite soft and warm. There are fewer than 1,500 yaks in North America, compared to over 250,000 bison and 300,000 alpacas and llamas. For more information about yaks, check out the following web site:


All in all, our day at the Estes Park Wool Market was both enlightening and relaxing. We hope to go again some day. For further information about the event, here's a link:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Son-in-Law Called Me a Polymath!


My son-in-law called me a Polymath!

…but that’s not a bad thing.

No, it’s actually quite a compliment...

You see a polymath has nothing to do with mathematics, or at least not completely. A polymath is learned in many subjects, one of which could be math (or maths outside North America).

The math component of the word confuses us. We associate it with “the science (or group of related sciences) dealing with the logic of quantity and shape and arrangement.”

…but etymologically, the word derives from a Greek word that simply means “to learn.”

The thing I loved most about being called a polymath is that, not only was it a new word for me, but more importantly, it came in an email entitled “New Word,” with the following text: “I came across a new word today, and not only did it remind me of you, you fit the definition of the word...polymath. You are undoubtedly a polymath…”

…and being excited about a new word is a very good thing, in my book.

Now, it’s a great compliment, indeed, to be called a polymath, but I think a lot of that just has to do with keeping my mouth shut about subjects I know little (of which there are a multitude) and spouting off about subjects I’ve studied (of which there are a few). When I do get interested in a subject, I pretty much obsess over it until I know as much as I can about it. I usually then like to tell others about it and will bore anyone within earshot as long as they’ll listen!

Polymaths are described as persons with encyclopedic, broad, or varied knowledge or learning. Synonyms are Renaissance man or Homo universalis in Latin, terms used to describe a person well educated, or who excels, in a wide variety of subjects or fields. With the proliferation of knowledge and the diversity of fields of study in today’s world, there is some question whether any modern person could be a true Renaissance man, in the classical sense of the word.

I am delighted that our sons-in-law, both of whom are extremely bright, capable, creative young men are interested in new words, as are our children. Words are the key to so many things. With them, we learn; we teach; we start, nurture, or restore relationships. We pray, we sing, we praise, we honor, we provide words of comfort and healing. We give of ourselves and receive from others by means of words. We create with words. The Word is among us, with us.

Of course, as soon as I learned this new word, courtesy of my son-in-law, I had to find out more about it, its etymology, its denotation and connotations. I learned of an interesting synonym, polyhistor, which is just as misleading as polymath. The word has nothing to do with history, but means one who is very learned or learned in many areas, just as does polymath.

A few lines of poetry from Thomas Moore deal with the erudite “polys” as follows:
“Off I fly, careering far
In chase of Pollys, prettier far
Than any of their namesakes are,
—The Polymaths and Polyhistors,
Polyglots and all their sisters."

The word is used rarely enough to find its way into dictionaries of rare or unusual words.

It is a delight, this polymath word, but a greater delight still is the person who sent it to me and all that the email represents.

My son-in-law called me a polymath!

…but that’s not a bad thing.

No, indeed…

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Next Generation

Bonnie had to format this for me as a JPG file, and she entitled it Monkey Kids. Here's the next generation of "Monkey Kids" -- Aidan, Alia, and Jono. Of course, this is all in fun, but there is a good message here, i.e. "See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil." Amen!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Putting Our Kids on a Pedestal

Here are Ellie, Jimmy, and Bonnie at the Forum in Rome. We took this picture while stationed in Italy sometime between 1976 and 1979. Comment: Well, Bonnie pointed out to me that this must have been closer to 1979 than 1976, since Ellie was born in 1977. Then my Mom wrote and said that this happened on the trip that she and my sister, Lori, made to Italy in 1979. So, there you have it.

This is the picture that inspired the original pedestal picture. Kathy saw it years later (in the 90's) in Nikko, Japan.

Years later, at Italica, outside Sevilla, Spain, we put our kids on pedestals again. Here's Jimmy. You can read more about Italica here: http://www.andalucia.com/cities/seville/italica.htm

Here's Ellie at Italica.
Here's Hannah posing at Italica.

Yeah, I know, that's not Bonnie. We're not quite sure why we couldn't find a picture of Bonnie, but for some reason we put me on a pedestal at Italica.