Clay Jenkinson, as Thomas Jefferson, in (maybe just maybe) the New Enlightenment Radio Network Barn. Photo from http://www.jeffersonhour.org.
Today is the 267th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth. And I am celebrating with bells on!
As many of you know, I have quite the crush on Thomas Jefferson. I first ‘fessed up to it here. Today, I’ll proudly let my geek flag fly, and tell you how the crush came to be.
I listen to a lot of NPR. A LOT. Especially when doing things like cooking, traveling, or doing the repetitive work that is the domain of lab and field biologists (data entry, processing samples, counting seeds, etc.).
After we moved to Williamsburg, every once in a while as I made lunch, I would hear snippets of a show, new to me, called The Thomas Jefferson Hour, distributed by Prairie Public Radio out of North Dakota. I always liked what I heard, but for one reason or another rarely caught the whole program.
Last spring, deep into a data entry project, I was hunting for new podcasts to alleviate my boredom and remembered The Thomas Jefferson Hour. Turns out, all the podcasts are available for free (from the show’s website and iTunes). I began downloading and listening, and once I started, I COULD NOT STOP! It was so fascinating and good!
The more I learned about Jefferson — a man of great brilliance, confounding inconsistencies, deep hurts, high ideals, strange hypocrisies, and wonderful mysteries — the more and more enamored I became.
I have never been a history buff. But Clay Jenkinson, a Thomas Jefferson scholar and the creator of the show, brings history to life in a way that will intrigue even the most history-averse folks. If you’ve seen Ken Burns’ documentaries on Thomas Jefferson or the National Parks, Jenkinson’s warm and eloquent voice may already be familiar to you — he was interviewed for both.
Each show is dedicated to a theme, and a typical show is divided Read the rest of this entry »
Since construction crews will be pounding away next door to my home office for the next 9-10 months, I decided it would be wise to set up a daytime residence at one of the libraries on campus. Matt’s been assigned a shared study carrel there; I can use it several days a week, alternating with the American Studies grad student who also calls it an office.
Apparently, this library has a large collection of Thomas Jefferson’s letters and manuscripts… Swoon! Can you say “study break”?
Many of you know of my recent fascination with Thomas Jefferson, stoked in large part by this wonderful radio show. This may be my first Jefferson post, but it surely will not be my last!
In 1825, a father who had christened his son Thomas Jefferson Smith wrote to Jefferson, asking him to impart words of wisdom to the baby boy. Jefferson responded with the following:
A Decalogue of Canons for Observation in Practical Life
1. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have it.
4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain have cost us the evils which never have happened.
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.
Because I am prone to worry, #8 is my favorite, though #7 is a close runner-up!
Tonight is a blue moon. The sky is dark with rain and thick with fog, and so we cannot see the moon in its full glory. But I am happy just to know that it is out there, shining bright above the clouds.
These little celebrations happened today:
We went to a matinee of a really great movie. It was 10:10 AM, and we were two of four people in the theater. It was surprising how homey and friendly it felt, this little group of early-bird strangers, laughing and enjoying a movie together. I am now convinced: morning movies are the way to go! Your choice of seating, no hooligans or ringing cell phones! (Have I lived among retirees too long? Perhaps. Perhaps. Next thing you know, I’ll be telling kids to get off my lawn.)
We went out to lunch at a little Japanese restaurant, then to Colonial Williamsburg where we bought a CW Christmas ornament. I suppose every W’burg household’s tree should have at least one…
We treated ourselves to afternoon café au lait and madeleines at home. Did you know that the madeleine was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite cookie? Neither did I, until yesterday, when our friends who had recently toured Monticello told us so!
We watched our wedding slideshow. What a night! How lovely and happy everyone looked! How awesome was that bison herd?!
And now we have champagne and Anthony Bourdain (a particular divertissement of Matt’s), and soon: that good book and cozy bed I’ve been looking forward to. A Very Happy New Year’s Eve, Everyone!