Monday, September 22, 2008

An almost perfect day

Today seems to be an almost perfect day so far around here. The sun is shining; fall is in the air; a brisk walk would be invigorating, I’m sure, if I could pull myself away from this computer long enough. The hummingbirds may all have left for warmer climes, but the mockingbirds are still singing in the lilac bush. (Actually, we don't have a lilac bush -- we do have mockingbirds -- but I remember a song with that title (mockingbirds, lilac bush, etc.) from around 1946 or so; it is one of my earliest recollections. I heard it on an old wind-up Victrola that played 78-rpm recordings and distributed the sound through a very large horn-type apparatus or appendage. For you younger readers, it was nothing like an iPod.)

This day in history is interesting as well. I recommend for your reading pleasure The Writer’s Almanac, which you can reach by clicking the underlined phrase The Writer’s Almanac in this sentence (the first occurrence, not the second), or by scrolling down until you see that phrase under the heading “Websites I like to visit” in the sidebar on the left, or by typing “” in the box at the top of the page and then pressing the little box that corresponds to “GO” in the game of Monopoly (do not collect $200). So much for the mechanics of reaching “The Writer's Almanac.”

When you get there, if you’re not reading this post on Monday, September 22, 2008, click on “Prev” under whatever date is displayed until it reads “Monday, September 22, 2008” because I consider this to be an almost perfect reading to go along with this almost perfect day.

First, there is a wonderfully clever poem by Clive James called “Windows Is Shutting Down” that had me giggling. Then there is an interesting (to me, at least) write-up about this week being (I know, I know, the subject of a gerund should be in the possessive case; call me rebellious) the anniversary of the invasion of Britain in 1066 by William the Conqueror of Normandy, and its resulting effect on the English language. Today is the birthday of someone I never heard of, and it’s also the anniversary of three other events that every American schoolchild learns about. On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation that took effect on January 1, 1863. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed the bill that created the Peace Corps. In 1776, Nathan Hale was hanged by the neck until dead. All in all, a very good day. Almost perfect, in fact (unless your name is Nathan Hale).

Can you remember, without peeking, his famous last words? (Readers in the U.K. are not expected to know, but will get extra credit if they do.)

I must stop using so many parentheses.


  1. "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country" or something to that effect. I don't know it verbatim.

  2. Shoot, I forgot the "only."

    And thanks for the Writer's Almanac link. This was my first visit there.

  3. Yes, believe it or not, I did know Nathan Hale's last words.

    Lots of interesting historical events on this day! Thanks for informing us of them. In Pella on Saturday I viewed a fascinating Lincoln exhibit at the Scholte House, and will blog about it soon. It opens officially today, and after reading your post, I understand why.....because of the Emancipation Proclamation signing, most likely.

    Hey.....I hope you got out and took that walk. If not, do so tomorrow!

  4. Yes I cheated and looked it up. I recognized the name but I couldn't remember the words. I'm a no good cheater.