Monday, November 30, 2009

Wolf Howl

Willa and Evan at the Campfire Wolf Howl. Photo Courtesy of Morton-Holden.

St Louis is fortunate to be the home of the Wolf Sanctuary - a.k.a. the Wild Canid Center. Located near Highway 44 & Antire Road at the Tyson Research Center, the Wolf Santuary is the country's most successful canid conservation, education, reproduction and research center. Although the Sanctuary has limited daytime visiting hours they do offer a fairly regular evening opportunity for folks to come out and participate in a campfire wolf howl. Here's how it works: Basically, you make your reservation in advance, pay 10 bucks, and drive out to the center around 7pm. You hang out in the main entrance while the rest of the group arrives and then head down to the campfire area around 7:30pm. The program starts with a fireside chat, the purpose of which is to dispel myths and falsehoods about wolves. Ours was led by the education coordinator and her sidekick, a gruff-voiced, semi-sarcastic but well-meaning curmudgeon type of guy. The program was loosely strung and, while clearly designed for kids, was full of some interesting facts and lighthearted humor. At this point, you're warned, again, that the wolves do their own thing ~ meaning that they may or may not at the end of the night when you walk to the enclosures for a little howl and response. On our particular night, last Wednesday, the wolves did howl briefly during the ed program but not at all at the enclosures. On the way back, the crowd visit the gift shop (a really cool WWII bunker that stored ammunition) for hot chocolate, cookies, and, of course, purchases! Overall, it was a fun night, especially for the youngsters. And, even though we couldn't get those wolves to howl for us, the money went to a great cause.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meditation Retreat

Photos Courtesy of MABA

About an hour from St Louis, in Augusta, MO, is the Mid-America Buddhist Association (MABA). Every Sunday, they offer very interesting sounding programs followed by (what I assumed would be) a really tasty vegetarian pot-luck style lunch. I'd always wanted to drive out for one of the programs but never managed to actually do it until last weekend. Starting on Friday and ending Sunday, MABA held a mediation retreat based on the concepts of metta -- a Pali term meaning loving-kindness -- and karuna -- compassion. This was a casual retreat, meaning that you could stay all weekend or you could just pop in on any one of the days, so I only went for Saturday's activities. The schedule was basically a day-long repeated cycle of dharma talk, meditation, walking meditation, and exercise (walk or yoga) with a delicious vegetarian lunch at noon. And, before I write anything else, I have stop here and say -- OMG! What those little Buddhist ladies can do with soy! Anyway, it was a lovely day but much harder physically and mentally than I would have ever thought. But, it felt really good to leave with a sense of having achieved a mindfulness that I hadn't had when I walked in through the door.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

During a recent PD lunch with friends, I mentioned that I was reading Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. I spoke a little about the book -- An outwardly popular and successful couple livin' in the burbs whose lives crumble horribly when they realize that their lives (as individuals, as a couple, as parents) aren't extraordinary, that, in fact, they're dull, unfulfilled, and false. One of my friends commented that she disliked books in which the characters or the situations made her feel awkwardly or psychologically uncomfortable. I agreed. But, later, as I continued reading Yates' book, I realized that don't dislike that feeling. Nope, not at all. In fact, it's quite the contrary -- I actually LOVE that uncomfortable feeling! And, many of the books that I've loved best have made me uncomfortable. The best popular example that gives off this feeling that I can think of right now is the play/movie Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The characters in Virginia, as well as Revolutionary Road, are passionate, flawed, desperate, selfish, mean, illogical, vulnerable. And, the thing is you want to look away from them, you want to feel different from them, you want to hate them. But, unfortunately, you can't because, at some level, you can relate to them and their neuroses, you see a bit of yourself in them. Hopefully, you get what I mean. And, if you do and you like what I'm talking about, then Revolutionary Road is a good read for you.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

That's Entertainment

I've never been one to go to the movie theater very often but, at one time, I used to rent and watch movies pretty regularly. Over the years, though, I lost interest -- which is why I never have a clue about new movies. I'm the loser at the annual Oscar Party who's never seen or probably never heard of any of the nominees -- unless they were a book first then my odds increase on the latter. Anyway, I have seen a few movies recently that I thought we worth mentioning.

First, The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's pretty old now but it's an awesome movie with a very, very awesome soundtrack which you gotta buy.

Second, Coraline which is recently out on DVD. We saw the trailer for this movie in the theater (seeing what I cannot remember now) and it looked very good. And Coraline was good but not as good as I had hoped it would be. But, it is still definitely worth seeing.

And, lastly, Where the Wild Things Are. Super great movie for older kids and, especially, adults. We took Willa, who's almost 5, and she liked it but, I think, found it #1 over her head at times, #2 frightening at times, and #3 a movie that is more appealing to boys. Again, the soundtrack is super awesome and I highly recommend buying it. I already have.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Look who stopped by....It's Little Orphan Annie, Daddy Warbucks, and Sandy!

"The sun'll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom that tomorrow......"

Bill's handiwork

Willa at the Pumpkin Patch

Here are a few photos from the Autumn season from the Henske house. I love this time of the year and can't wait to get out and enjoy it some more!