Monday, August 22, 2016

Library time

Today (Monday) was a library day. We are at Swarthmore, PA, and while Ellen had a chance to visit with friends, I had a chance to spend most of the day at the Friends Historical Library, which is a wing of the McCabe Library at Swarthmore College.

McCabe Library
My reason for being at the Library was to continue my exploration of the Frederick B. Tolles archive there. I have been going through the 13 boxes of materials there since 2005 - over ten years! I always find something new and unexpected. I am gradually completing the MS I've been working on for several years now, which will be titled An Untold Story: Frederick Barnes Tolles' Unpublished History of 16-17th Century Colonial America and the Story Behind It. The section I am refining is the detailed chronological summary of FBT's life, which includes a "fairly complete bibliography of his published works." I am still finding things he wrote in the archive. This time I found a 12-page anecdotal history of Swarthmore College, which he wrote in 1963. I also found notes he made discussing a larger, more definitive history of Swarthmore College that he was working on, but was not able to finish because of his illness.

I took a break from my research to walk through the beautiful Swarthmore campus and meet Ellen, Sarah and Wallace for lunch at the new Swarthmore Inn.

The central campus at Swarthmore
Lunch at the Inn
Sometimes when I am in a library, I just randomly look at books. This time, I browsed the "New Books" shelf, and picked up a book on contemporary art. I randomly opened it to a photograph of a very unusual sculpture:

Sherpa, 2008 by Tim Hawkinson
This is a life-sized motorcycle, made entirely from bird feathers. Hundreds of feathers from eight different species of birds. The original is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The artist was inspired by a single ostrich plume, the sweep and shape of which reminded him of the gas tank of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. There is a paradox in using feathers to depict something so heavy and sturdy. But I couldn't help but think of that feathered hat, which led to the extinction of the Maine puffin (see the 8/19/2016 blog above, Full Day in Rockland). Where and how did the artist get his feathers? The article about this piece doesn't discuss that. It seems not to have been an issue for the authors. You have to wonder though. There was no plaque saying, "No bird was harmed in the creation of this work of art."

Yesterday (Sunday),  Ellen and I had breakfast at the Court Diner in Media, PA, and then met Paul and Max at Hereford Place, where Sarah and Harry live. Max and Paul swam in the pool there, although it was raining much of the time, so the rest of us came indoors. Then we had some snacks before shifting the venue to Wallace's house for supper, where Paul had a chance to share his experiences as a site manager for OSM - an often frustrating experience. Max was fantastic. He kept busy with activities and related beautifully to the adults. We knew his mom would be very proud and were sorry Jenny wasn't there to see for herself.

A very grown-up Max
In Wallace's living-room: l. to r., Max, Harry, Ellen, Paul and Sarah

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