commonplace book

Colonial New Englanders used Commonplace Books for keeping miscellaneous thoughts, ideas and quotes in a single, common place. Before I started blogging I'd always have a commonplace book happening in a spiral-bound, lined notebook.

The New South • 26 October 2002

The South

The New South

The South? It's the one region I easily and inevitably identify with when someone mentions they're been there or lived there. There is anywhere in the South except Texas which to me is more accurately not really real Southwest than Southern South, and except Florida, which any real Southerner knows is a bastard state.

I was born in the Deep South in Mobile, Alabama, lived near Mobile in Bay Minette and Stapleton for a while and then spent some time in Starkville, on the Mississippi Delta.

My mother's father – my grandfather, of course – had grown up in Mississippi, in Jackson, I think. He had three brothers and two sisters, all called by their middle names.

pataskala, ohio houseAll of this means memories and occasionally the present reality of what used to be known as Poor White Folks' Food and is more popularly identified as Soul Food—at least in local White parlance in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The bill of fare would have to include field peas, grits, Mississippi corn bread (1 cup of cornmeal and 1 tablespoon of flour), biscuits, rice, greens, and a pot of bacon grease on top of the stove. I imagine I've got a lot in common with the Blacks I meet and visit with, many of whom have just arrived North. Maybe that's fantasy!

Although recently I've spent very little time in the South: short visits to Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill; Tidewater, Virginia; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Gatlinburg, Tennessee—to me Kentucky and Tennessee aren't just border states, they're also borderline South; "Greater Baltimore," Maryland and Washington, D.C. (but is that Southern?), from these visits, from earlier impressions and from the media I've formed a montage. My montage includes regional and local expressions of various kinds being considered vital for sheer survival and also part and parcel of protecting one's Southern identity. Exactly what the identity consists of is not too clear, but it likely includes regional food specialties, and at its worst is politically reactionary and religiously ultraconservative, with an unbiblical view of biblical authority and inerrancy. I suspect – however accurately I'm not sure – the political and religious stance is rooted in a fear of individual risk and responsibility and consequent recourse in legalisms which remove the burden of responsibility from the individual. Though of course there are other reasons, as well as Southerners who think and act otherwise!

And I envision a huge amount of literature, all fiction, all based on reality, all to the last sentence of the last paragraph portraying families held together by hate and dependency, sometimes by incest, with individual and social pathology beyond the wildest fabrications of any non-Southerner. That is just possibly a stereotype?

Also, hot, humid weather and bugs.

Very positively there's that strong southern influence upon mainstream popular music of originally Southern genres such as soul, blues, jazz, gospel, and country / western. Though I don’t know the actual degree of that influence, it appears to be fairly pervasive. To me the music's also a real bridge between South and North..."North" referring to the non-Southern United States.

© Leah Chang

cloudbreak! • 04 November 2004

rain puddle

trilogy 2 — rain


remembering places past
a festival of rain on the roof
and on the sidewalks too
my heart
rains wistful memories
touching times long past
yet morning light still breaks
into new nostalgia

lunch on main street
endless talk
street puddles
a sunshower
out to the stable to clean the stalls
then up in the gallery
music by sweelinck rings through the room

rain is over
it's night
sky's full of stars
welcome to your world of dreams

© Leah Chang

ekistic units • 19 October 2004

anthropos – 1

room – 2

south carolina snow scene
house – 5

housegroup – 40

small neighborhood - 250

neighborhood – 1,500

small polis – 10,000

polis – 75,000

small metropolis – 500,000

mexico city metropolis
metropolis – 4,000,000

small megalopolis – 25,000,000

megalopolis – 150,000,000

small eperopolis – 1,000 million [1,000,000,000]

eperopolis – 7,500 million [7,500,000,000]

ecumenopolis – 50,000 million [50,000,000,000]

horses • 19 October 2004

horses scene

brought to las americas in the mid-16th century by Spanish conquistadores

horses have that *ephemeral quality* — horses have heart!

Nez Perce horse—stallions and ahkal-teke

1895 Appaloosa mares: "a Palouse Horse" near the Palouse River

Reykjavik, 5th gait—*TOLT* = slower, fast running walk

quarter horses from Virginia: 1/4 mile!


clear cutting—even age management, "skudder" and "wedge"

Sea Dreams among the Mesquite • 12 January 2008

road with cattle right road center with cattle

Over on an inactive blog I posted a basic and perfunctory nativity account, but about a third of the way into January I have a really good one for today! For starters, during my recent visit to Tucson, the ride toward the international border as we drove out to Rio Rico-Rich River was amazing! Remember, this is the Sonoran desert with its exceptional biodiversity that absolutely for sure does not include coastal, shoreside, seashore, seaside or beach habitat. I love the title I gave this post—back in my cultural anthropology classes, the professor frequently commented on people stereotyping to such a degree they talked about customs, etc. "among the whomever whatever whichever" culture in question, but today I truly am writing about things I witnessed amidst desert plants like the (yes, stereotypical, usual) mesquite and similar.

Street names included nautical language like océano, mar, ballena, mariscos, embarcadero, muelle, playa, langosta, huracán, agua linda, agua salada, (plus Finlandia and Dinamarca).

cattle crossing cattle in the mesquite

I've blogged and posted some pictures from the seafaring town of Harwich, Massachusetts and about Salem, Massachusetts—we'd drive up the shore from Boston to Salem when we lived in Boston and later up the Shore to Marblehead, Ipswich and Gloucester when we lived in Salem, but in those cases you'd expect the vocabulary to align with the land—and seascape, which it sometimes did, though lots of streets and roads and churches and buildings got named after historical people or happenings.

On our exodus out of Rio Rico, we enjoyed cattle crossing—javalina, too, but didn't get any pics of the javvies. Given the considerable size of the bovine population cohort, we were able to get some great cattle pics; you can see four of the best right here!

Roy Harris & Aaron Copland: 3rd Symphonies • 04 March 2011

Copland, Symphony #3; Harris, Symphony #3 on Amazon

Copland, Harris Symphonies CD   Copland, Harris Symphonies CD back

With trilingual liner notes in English, German and French along with strikingly bright cover art featuring a DC-2 hovering above a horse-drawn stagecoach, this recording of two classic American symphonic standards is well-prepped for export! For both pieces Neeme Järvi conducts the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It's fair to say Roy Harris' Symphony No. 3 in one movement and five parts is an icon of 20th century American music and especially given that the final, 4th movement of Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3 is a version of his "Fanfare for the Common Man," his 3rd symphony isn't far behind in the category of iconic.

Basically I like the orchestra's playing under Maestro Neeme Järvi, who served as DSO Music Director from 1990 through the end of the 2004-2005 season. However, at times the music simply sits there, so in general I'd like to feel a greater sense of the narrative moving along and greater passion in the shapes of the phrases. Not surprisingly, the luminous sound of the Chandos recording is a joy to the ears! Do I recommend this CD? Definitely! It will give you another perspective on a pair of major orchestral works that are among my very favorites, and maybe yours, as well.

my amazon review: solid performances, clear sound

draw a bird day 2012 • Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Sunday, 08 April was the annual Draw a Bird Day; here's the Blackbird I drew for the occasion:

draw a bird day 2012 blackbird

Paul Rand: thoughts on design • 27 May 2012

Thoughts on Design by Paul Rand

thoughts on designIf ever there lived an iconic designer/illustrator, it was the late Paul Rand (1914-1996). In this now 4-decades old treasure of a book, Rand exegetes, illustrates, and explains symbol and word. But is word not symbol in itself and is symbol not a kind of speech? In less than 100 pages you can read about beauty and utility, humor, typography, and imagination. In contrast to fine art, design has a function, typically as a solution for a problem or concern; graphic, photographic, and typographic design is most familiar to consumers as a modality for presenting a product, event or idea. We live amongst many varieties of architectural, industrial and "other" types of design, as well. This simply modest yet elegant paperback is packed full of actual illustrations of mostly advertising design solutions accompanied by the "how to" and "why to" involved. You know IBM, UPS, and Westinghouse? Paul Rand designed those logos and campaigns and in the half century since they first impacted the public, Rand's style and philosophy has influenced literally countless others. Thoughts on Design is a "don't miss it" if you can find it and afford it!

Paul Rand online

my amazon review: a jewel, a keepsake

World Drawing Day 2012 • 02 June 2012

For World Drawing Day 2012, here's my drawing of a devastatingly endangered rhino:

world drawing day 2012 rhino

Earth Day 2013 • 22 April 2013

earth day 2013

Mexican Cornbread • 05 May 2015

Mexican Cornbread recipe

13 March • 30 September 2015

abuela drive 13 march old navy window 13 march
Friday, 13 March 2015
street where I lived in Tierrasanta, "Holy Land" | Old Navy Mission Valley Window

Harwich Scrapbook pages • 16 April 2016

harwich scrapbook page harwich scrapbook page harwich scrapbook page

whimsies: we are stardust • 07 July 2016

we are stardust

whimsies: earth must provide • 07 July 2016

earth must provide

57 Wellesley Park • 06 March 2017

Four of the eight edits I recently made on This Old House that's been well preserved and needs an additional preservation project.

57 Wellesley Park 57 Wellesley Park

57 Wellesley Park 57 Wellesley Park

Page most recently updated Monday 07 August 2017.

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