Histrionic and Narcissistic|
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|Thursday, December 22nd, 2005|
Since the winter solstice occured just after noon yesterday in our time zone, that means the longest night of the year was last night, not tuesday night. Hence, we marked the holiday at sunrise today, the sunrise after the longest night. Just the convention we personally have adopted; others figure the date differently. After hiking up the hill in the crystal clear pre-dawn chill (tossing a few pebbles to make the frozen pond sing again on the way) we greeted the sunrise with a little drumming. Then a chilly gift opening around the tree. Peggy got me a hat and three pair of Carhart jeans, I got her an electric blanket and some networking stuff for our computers (the real gift will be my setting up the network, not the hardware). Plus she got us a vase with bacchanalia scenes. Now to finish up wrapping and mailing for a few family members who celebrate their holidays later in the month. A quiet homebody sort of day... quiet is good this time of year.
|Wednesday, December 21st, 2005|
When I was growing up in Georgia, spending all my free time chasing birds around the woods and fields and swamps, one of the things I always loved coming across was woodcock displaying in the first dawn twilight of a clear early winter morning. This wasn't something I'd find very often; only when I made an effort to get well out of Atlanta to be at some marsh or swamp somewhere as the sky first lightened. It's one of those ingrained experiences of the small secret mysteries of wilderness back here in the well-trammeled East; a private thing that most people never know of nor would understand. It's a simple thing really: as the eastern sky acquires the first hint of orange, a nearly invisible bird circles high overhead against the indigo sky. Every few minutes he plunges in a death-defying dive, and as he pulls out at the bottom his wings sing a delicate tinkling song. If he is lucky, there is a female hidden away in the weeds watching him and calling up to him with a buzzy little voice.
A few days ago, I got home from a pre-dawn errand on a clear, cold morning. As I walked from the truck to the house, I heard the courtship song of a woodcock. In the sky over our weedy orchard, right in our yard, the woodcock were displaying.
Another reminder why the annoyance, inconvenience, and poverty of this life are worth it.
A few nights later, when we pulled into our yard in the evening, our headlights revealed a strange creature hopping through the grass and leaves. It took me a second to realize that it was a woodcock. There have been very few times I've ever seen one on the ground before. They're a secretive, well-camoflauged nocturnal beeste of brambles, thickets, and marshes. Usually they're seen when they fly up suddenly from right underfoot, having remained invisible to the last second.
p.s. Please refrain from the 7th-Grade jokes about this bird's name. Have heard then ALL before, many times. Thank you.
|Tuesday, December 20th, 2005|
Not only was "Intelligent Design" absolutely shot down and blown to pieces in today's court ruling in PA, it was blasted out of the sky by a judge who was appointed to the bench by George W. Bush himself. Woo hoo!!
After a high yesterday of 35 and a low this morning of 4 (that's +2 and -16 for you C-speakers) the pond is frozen again. I took advantage of the chance to play a little pond music. When you toss small rocks onto a freshly frozen pond, they make the most marvelous sound as they skitter along across the ice. It is an otherworldly musical twittering. The closest thing I know to it in nature is the chittering of Purple Martins.
|Thursday, December 15th, 2005|
Literally. Taking off the casings, removing the stops and lower sashes. Going at everything with scraper and heat gun, repairing damaged bits. Putting it all back together, replacing some parts that were removed and thrown away when the house was dry-walled 20 years ago, caulking and spackling it all. Results: Windows that look like they did 120 years ago but that actually work and don't leak air.
I am wondering where I found this wellspring of patience for the meticulous restoration work I am doing here. Dedication to long slow repetitive tasks was not a hallmark of mine before. I guess it's because of the tangible results and the clear value and larger context that I don't get bored spending days working on the cracks and fiddly bit of just one single window.
Drinking and talking with the neighbor yesterday (Peggy away for work, his wife works 2nd shift)... feeling slow today.
|Wednesday, December 14th, 2005|
|Sex and the City
Continuing my belated intro to pop culture from a few years ago, I happened to finally see "Sex and the City" last night in a motel room. Ye gawds, what garbage. Brain-dead dialogue, paper-thin characters, mediocre prodution values, bleah. Bunch of standard TV-pretty women sitting around talking about penises. Sorry to bruise all those little straight boy egos, but this just doesn't happen, dudes. "Your" women have full, complex, varied lives that do NOT revolve around your dick, and when they get to hang out together that is what they talk about, not your gonads. On the occasion that they may waste some of their time talking about you, they are far more likely to talk about your stinking dirty laundry or your shitty taste in movies than your dick.
|Sunday, December 11th, 2005|
|Saturday, December 10th, 2005|
|Brokeback Mountain revisited
OK so after having dissed the movie unseen because of its casting choices, and then deciding I probably wouldn't be able to bear sitting through it because of its way-to-close-to-home plot, I decided instead to read the short story. It is available online:http://www.newyorker.com/printables/archive/051212fr_archive01
First off, I shoud say that I generally do not like Western fiction all that much; I just don't warm up to its bleakness, emptiness, and hopelessness. And this is definitely a piece of Western fiction. I had a bit of trouble with the style, too; I felt too much sometimes like I was reading bad gay cowboy porn. Now, with the superficialities out of the way... the story is the universal tragedy of impossible love that so many experience. It just happens to be set amongst two male ranch hands in late 20th Century Wyoming. Brokeback Mountain is the metaphor for the peaks that many of us have scaled, only to spend the rest of our lives never able to return. Its particular setting and gender-sexual combination does indeed strike right at the very core of my own greatest heartaches, which is why I still think I could not bear the intensity of seeing this as a feature film in a theater. The final scenes, if portrayed faithfully in the film, would leave me incapacitated...
I still think a couple of more ordinary-looking fellers would have helped give this universal tragedy the particular flavor applied to it in the short story, but that is a done deal.
High yesterday/low this morning (F):
Front Porch... 32/11
|Thursday, December 8th, 2005|
The testimonials and reminiscences about Lurch appearing all over the internet as the news of his death spreads are truly moving. They are coming from old friends, people who only met him once or twice, and even people who never met him at all yet whose lives were changed just by the very knowledge of his existence. I can only imagine the stories that are being told face to face with tears and laughter in San Francisco and all over the world. I trust his memorial will be a wake the likes of which even San Francisco only sees a few times in a lifetime. There are precious few people who are able to touch so many people in so many ways, simply by being who they are. He was indeed both larger than life and yet also just a simple mortal like all the rest of us.
A life well and fully lived.
|When Bears were real Bears
Lurch died this morning.
Only met him once, 9 years ago, doubt he ever would have remembered me. But that's all it took to form a lasting impression of him.
The world will forever be a bit less red...
|While we're on the theme...
I came across this self-diagnosing personality disorder test:http://www.4degreez.com/misc/personality_disorder_test.mv
Here's how I came out:
Hardly surprising for a blog-keeping exhibitionist, eh?
EDIT: I've updated my journal's title
|Wednesday, December 7th, 2005|
|Tuesday, December 6th, 2005|
Shouldn't that actually be 24/7/52?
|Six Feet Under
I realize I am several years late to this particular party, but that's just part of life where there's no broadcast or cable TV available and the nearest movie theater is an hour away...
We've been finally watching the DVDs of "Six Feet Under" in recent weeks, up through the end of the third season (Nate is now a single dad, Kieth and David are trying to reconcile yet again, Ruth is remarried; for those who care and watched them so long ago that they have forgotten just how it all went). That's all the Nashville Public Library has yet. I've been very impressed. The major characters are unusually finely drawn and well performed, especially considering it's a TV series. And it makes very good use of that Ally McBeal device of externalizing the characters inner thoughts; much better than Ally McBeal ever did. I have noticed that the visitations from dead people are clearly projections of the living characters psyche, not anything actually supernatural (unlike in Northern Exposure or Angels in America where things did happen that were inexplicable by simple earthly psychology). I thought the opener to the third season was especially well done, where Nate walks through a variety of alternative realities in which he is dead, fine, severly disabled, trailer trash, etc. It wasn't until the next episode that I was sure that the reality he ultimately settled down in was the "real" one that the show was going to go forward with. Oops I realize I have to correct myself, there were some things in that sequence that did turn out to be actual precognition, not just things from inside Nate's own head.
But I have to say, there is one thing that is really disturbing to me about this show. These characters' psycho, unreasonable, difficult behaviors are WAY to familiar to me; both from people around me and from myself. Much of the time it's like watching home movies of some of the parts of my own life that I would least want to have shown on TV. The dynamic between Kieth and David is especially difficult sometimes. That relationship is almost too close to home. But there are also times when I can really identify with Nate, even when he is being snarling, snapping, dishonest, and just wanting to run away from it all.
|Sunday, December 4th, 2005|
Sitting upstairs last night, suddenly jolted out of our skins by a loud bang from directly overhead... followed by smaller smacks and pops and more intermittent loud detonations. It took a few seconds to recognize this as the sound of hailstones on the metal roof -- some of them BIG hailstones.
Switching into Official Capacity I ran down the steps and out to the front porch with a flashlight to see just how big they were. It wasn't torrent of them, but it only took a few second to spot some icy golfballs scattered about the front yard. So, I grabbed the phone and called in my Official spotter report. It feeds yer latent megalomaniacal tendencies to call in your spotter report and then hear the alarms go off with the severe thunderstorm warning a minute later [alas, actually, the battery in the weather radio was dead so this time I had to be satisfied with watching the warning pop up on the map on the NWS OHX home page]. Not quite like the tennis balls that fell in the spring of '03, but still makes you glad for the sturdy roof overhead.
Of course the thunderstorm presaged a cold snap, and we might get our first dusting of snow tonight. Or, we might not...
|The Hurricane Center folks are losing it...
The latest release on Hurricane Epsilon, presented as released, I did not make this up... has been a LOOONG summer for these folks...
HURRICANE EPSILON DISCUSSION NUMBER 21
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
10 AM EST SUN DEC 04 2005
AFTER A SLIGHT WEAKENING OVERNIGHT...MORNING SATELLITE IMAGES
INDICATE THAT EPSILON HAS RESTRENGTHENED. THE EYE HAS BECOME MORE
SYMMETRIC AND THE RING OF CONVECTION IS STRONGER THAN YESTERDAY.
T-NUMBERS FROM TAFB AND SAB ARE 4.5 ON THE DVORAK SCALE AND ON THIS
BASIS...THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS INCREASED TO 75 KNOTS. THERE ARE
NO CLEAR REASONS...AND I AM NOT GOING TO MAKE ONE UP...TO EXPLAIN
THE RECENT STRENGTHENING OF EPSILON AND I AM JUST DESCRIBING THE
FACTS. HOWEVER...I STILL HAVE TO MAKE AN INTENSITY FORECAST AND THE
BEST BET AT THIS TIME IS TO PREDICT WEAKENING DUE TO COLD WATER
...HIGH SHEAR AND DRY AIR.
EPSILON IS MOVING EASTWARD AT 10 KNOTS...RUNNING AHEAD OF A STRONG
MID-LATITUDE TROUGH. BUT SOON...ACCORDING TO THE GLOBAL
MODELS...THE CYCLONE WILL BE TRAPPED SOUTH OF A DEVELOPING RIDGE
WHICH EVENTUALLY FORCE EPSILON SOUTHWARD AND THEN SOUTHWESTWARD.
THERE IS FAIRLY GOOD GUIDANCE AGREEMENT IN SHOWING THIS MOTION.
ALTHOUGH EPSILON WILL ENCOUNTER WARMER WATERS ONCE IT MOVES TOWARD
THE SOUTHWEST. HOWEVER...THE UPPER LEVEL WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO BE
HIGHLY UNFAVORABLE AND EPSILON WILL LIKELY BECOME A REMNANT LOW. I
HEARD THAT BEFORE ABOUT EPSILON...HAVEN`T YOU?
|Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005|
|The Best We Can Do
I'm increasingly convinced that Steve Earle belongs up there with Woody Guthrie and John Prine. Of course now in the world of Clear Channel the only airplay he can get is XM12, some low-power stations to the far left of the dial, and an occasional movie sound track.
|Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005|
|Sooty ceiling woes
I've been spending many days working towards a white ceiling in the dining room. The problem is the century of fossilized soot and creosote on the ceiling from the (quite lovely) open stone fireplace (into which we have installed an equally lovely "air-tight" woodstove insert). The accumulation is not terribly thick, but the ceiling texture and condition (120-year-old tongue-and-groove beadboard) preclude sanding it all off. So, I have sanded it lightly to remove the major roughness and loose dirt, then cleaned with water.
Then came the frustrating bit: trying to cover this accumulation with something uniformly white. Latex primer bled through in a heartbeat, so I used solvent based primer which also bled through some but not so badly. I was hoping that whatever staining pigments bled through the solvent primer would not be water soluble and would not stain a latex topcoat -- fat chance. Evidently fossilized wood combustion residue contains some strong pigments that are soluble in both water and organic solvents...
Experimentation and serendipity seem to have revealed that this combination works: latex primer, followed by solvent primer, followed by two latex topcoats. It seem that what bleeds through the latex does not bleed through the solvent primer; even though some of what bleeds through the solvent (if used as a first coat) will bleed through the latex. Confused yet? Bored yet?
I'd think that if creosote component X is soluble in both water and organic solvents it would not matter which order they were applied, but evidently paint is more complicated than just this. Something must happen in the curing process that makes the latex then solvent work but solvent then latex fail...
Whatever... at least I will eventually have a white dining room ceiling.