Saturday, July 30, 2005

Les Fleurs Ne Sont Pas Chères*

Mon ami du loin likes compliments; when I told him that I had a thesaurus, he told me to bring the words on.

Okay, since I've little more to offer than words, here goes.

From the original "funny, épatant, étincelant, interessant," I find:

amusant, comique, étonnant, gai, plaisant ,singulier, surprennant
chouette, excellent, formidable, merveilleux, sensationnel
brilliant, incandescant, luminescent, phosporescent, rutilant, scintillant
attachant, captivant ,passionnant

We'll see what the third tier of compliments d'après Petit Robert is bientôt.

(*means literally, "flowers are not expensive." Figuratively - talk is cheap.)
The package store up the street from where I work is dark, dank and very musty. People often come in to pay for whatever it takes to get them through their day/morning/afternoon/hour in pocket change; I've on a couple occasions been followed in by tough guys who have had to been escorted out by the even tougher shopkeepers. I can't imagine going anywhere else, though: in tintos and verdes on the shelves and mielhos and anisettes behind the counter they seem to have all of Portugal represented.

Me? I'm a kid in a candy shop there. Often, I have absolutely no idea with what criteria to judge what's in the bottle I pick up (Is it like that porto wine you find in the cheese in the supermarket? Then it's okay by me.), so let myself be led by the eyes and buy based on a pretty label.

Yesterday, after my crummy week which culminated in lunch at dinnertime, I stopped at the shop to pick up little bottles of vinho verde (Pavão - the label had a big, angry, stupid pavane on it, just like my mood that day, so thought it a propos) for Karen and my colleague for having to put up with me. Also decided to try my luck with another tinto from the Dão region, so chose this, based on the label art, of course.

One of the loiterers on the block who'd been attempting to engage me in conversation for a few weeks now had entered the store and, on seeing me, went into raptures over my choice: "Now she gets a bottle with a great Medieval Portuguese painter! Good girl! Pretty and cultured! Aahhhh..." I thanked him and rolled my eyes at the one shopkeeper, a Samoan looking man built like a tank who shooed the over-the-top art historian out the door.

"You know him?"
"Heck no! He followed me in off the street."
"I can watch in here, but not out there. Be careful."
(Did my heart good to know that this cashier was so concerned about the well-being of his customers.)

Made it back to the office without incident. Something the fellow who followed me into the shop said kind of got to me - Medieval painter? Hmm. Don't know how well you can see this image, but take my word for it, not too medieval-looking. Something later, perhaps?

A google search netted me a little information on the painter Vasco Fernandes, otherwise known as Grão Vasco - that he was a leading religious painter in northern Portugal (Dão, in fact) in the early-mid 16th century.

(Here's a better view of his work - it's a detail from his "Annunciation.")

And they say that wine kills brain cells. For crying out loud, that's the first actual brain stimulation I'd had all week.

(In case you're interested, here's a neat little blog on Portuguese painting I found in my search for more on Fernandes.)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Ever have one of those days where all you wanted to do was sink down into a corner and cry yourself to sleep, nap for a bit, then resume crying until you're exhausted again? That's the kind of day I'm having. Life's not hopeless, mind you - just a bit more than I can bear at the moment. I'm sure that the feeling will pass soon.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Of course, you can't have a proper New England cemetery without weeping beeches, birches, cedars or willows.

Here we are hiding underneath a purple weeping beech with braches high enough and strong enough to support even a fully-grown tree-climber.

(This photo reminds me of back when I was a child and my mother would take me to our local garden cemetery back in Buffalo to play in the trees and feed the ducks. Leaving would upset me so that I could be a real terror; am told that I bit mom once, in fact. Didn't bite the person who accompanied me this past visit, however, as I didn't want to end up walking home.)

Plenty of Living Flora and Fauna in the City of the Dead

This is a super close-up of a purple coneflower - one of our favorites and very prolific right now.

Silk Tree blossoms - there are a few of these trees in the cemetery. Related to Locust Trees and Wisteria their blossoms have a delicate, sweet perfume.

(The next couple we are busily trying to identify.)

We saw (and heard) a number of different birds on Sunday - from the ubiquitous mockingbirds to bluejays, cardinals, red winged blackbirds, and of course, herons. Hal found this little lady hiding in the reeds at the Willow Pond, trying to get a bit of respite from the sun:

Always to be found are all sorts of frogs. One of my favorite games to play at ponds is to stomp around a little ways from the edge in order to get as many of these guys jumping in as possible. This one fellow wouldn't budge, however. Hal called him a pickle:

No matter how close we got to him, he just would not move. Eventually, after Hal was through, I gently pinched pickle frog on the behind and he went away.

Those lovely yellow flowers (are they another type of Ranunculus, Sissy?) played host to an awful lot of bees. Hal got this shot of one guy going to town on the pollen, collecting it in his little bee knapsack:

Sweet Auburn

Last Sunday, since we were feeling kind of tuckered out from the trip out west, we decided to stay closer to home. We'd been to Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain around Memorial Day, so visited the other great garden cemetery (first in the nation, in fact) north of the Charles, Mount Auburn.

It may seem odd to some to spend time wandering around a city of the dead, but there is so much to see, hear, smell and contemplate when one finds oneself in these locations - Mount Auburn is a wonderful example of American-style urban green space (a la Olmsted) as well as a great survey of the historical memorial architecture from the early-mid 19th century to the present.

There's plenty of bird-watching and tree-identifying to be done there, as well.

Among the famous people we got to see this last time around (and Mt Auburn gives out maps, so we were all set) were: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edwin Land, Oliver Wendell Homes, Julia Ward Howe, BF Skinner, Fannie Farmer...

Harold was particularly enamoured of Buckminster Fuller's gravesite, with its enigmatic appended epitaph "call me trimtab."

I found it poetic justice that he was laid to rest next to Charles Bulfinch.

My favorite memorial, though, had to be Harold Edgerton's with the etched-in references to his best known works of photography and the wonderful lyrical 'physics' poem by Longfellow:

"I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend."
Speaking of cherries...I have to ask the neighbors across the street if they're going to use the cherries on the tree in their garden. They're sour cherries (sauerkirchen) and are a real delicacy where I come from. Very difficult to find here, however. Make amazing pastries. Even better jelly.
What an odd day! First my machine started having seizures. I took it over to the IT lab for them to look into - still there right now as far as I know. Ended up having to wander around the building asking people when they were going to lunch so that I could quick! run reports on the ledger from their machines and send them to mine (a box with Office and nothing else) to format. About an hour before closing, got a general alert that we were going on lockdown due to a phoned-in threat. This sort of thing isn't totally unexpected, given the field we work in. Still, it's kind of disconcerting to have the police around in the office and not know what's going on. Again, for all I know, we may well spend another day in this state. We'll see.

The crowning glory, though, was making it home after my wander in the somewhere-above-95 degree range temperatures to find that all the power on my street had gone out. My neighbor Rosie said that it was cut at about five.

At about 7:30-8:00 (couldn't tell; didn't have a working clock), a couple of guys in an NStar truck came and started unloading a big, gray box (a transformer? I don't know) from the cab and set about to replacing the one currently up the pole. Fascinating work. Finished with that, they went to the next pole down the street and fiddled with that for a bit. We had thunderstorms predicted, but mercifully, it only spit for a while.

Was amazing how the entire neighborhood was out watching these guys do their job. One fellow would pass around tools, the other would ascend and descend on this giant, manoeuverable arm. Such cherries for him to pick, though! (Could never do his job.) I made mention to one neighbor across the street that, though it seemed sad for us to be out like this on such a hot night, that porch stoop socializing was the norm before people got all dependent on things like TV and the innernet. He agreed. His partner (a mechanical engineer) and I admired the electricians prowess with their tools for a while and, when we finally got power up again (11/2 hours after the NStar guys arrived), we started a round of applause, hollering thanks and declaring that, for all intents and purposes, they were much, much better than rock stars.

Returned to the house to turn on the fans and fix the clocks, then went back outside to pass another hour with Raphaella and Rosie.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Till Death Do Us Part?

Ed Morrissey has a fascinating column up in the Weekly Standard about 'staying true' in an increasingly commitment-phobic society. He follows up in his blog with an amusing post on more dilute versions of marriages and how much like season ticket subscriptions or prepaid cellphone cards they could be like.


I used to work in Music Publishing; for nearly ten years I held what could very well be be considered as close to a dream job as I'm ever likely to have. This all ended a few years back when our owners (the heirs to a major musical theater dynasty) decided that our venture, one of the oldest music publishing firms in the country was losing them more money than what it gained them as a tax writeoff. One could argue that music publishing has gone the way of the music industry and book publishing - larger companies buying up smaller companies for their catalogues, creating even bigger conglomerates. I'm sure that that played a large part in my company's demise.

Another important factor is that, on the whole, our society is a lot less musically literate than it was in preceeding generations. Some of this has to do with seeing some realms of music education as elitist (read: uninteresting), therefore purged from curricula. Also, kids nowadays (I'm willing to bet) aren't being made to stay the course on learning a musical instrument. It's just too darn hard, too much of a commitment to keep up beyond, say John Thompson's second piano book or Tune-a-Day for Trumpet. Why bother when there are other, more instant means of gratification out there?

My company, which specialized in choral music and music pedagogy on the publishing side, also had a retail business that seemed to be shrinking month by month. I worked in wholesale/publishing and noted that in my last two years there, something like 35% of the smaller stores I'd sold to had closed down or been bought out by chains. 9/11 hastened along the inevitable. To be honest, I can't blame my company's former owners for letting go and moving their capital into better investments. Music making seems to be a losing proposition nowadays.

The current war, marriage, learning a musical instrument: Three seemingly random subjects linked by the need of the participants to commit to something in a society that presses more and more for finding the "easy way" out.
"It seems to me that if Salem Radio or Clear Channel had taken money from poor children and Alzheimer's patients to stay on the air, we would hear about that from all major media outlets within nanoseconds of it coming out."

That being the case, then why aren't we hearing more about what sounds like some pretty major financial improprieties here?
Temperatures up to nearly 100 degrees made the wander in a bit difficult. Almost got taken out by a girl (gabbing, of course) who ran a red light in Union Square. At the office, I found that my machine wasconstantly shutting down due to a "heat-related incident." The IT guys swapped my narcoleptic box with a newer, XP model which is great, but doesn't have everything I need to do my day-to-day work. (Without access to the general ledger and my reporting formats, am prettymuch dead in the water). I'd go back home again, but the air conditioning's actually a major incentive to stay here. (Generally that and a paycheck are what my loyalty is based on at this point.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mon ami de loin went at it with his boîte d'aquarelles. He was copying from memory a picture he saw in a window of an antique shop.
One evening while watching the news on television, we saw a story on how some Hollywood studios are looking to release films both in theaters and via satellite simultaneously; that this is a new way of dealing with a perceived slump in box office takes. Hal's response to that was that rather than diffusing via all available channels, perhaps they should consider scaling back, tightening up quality and not releasing so much crap.
Speechless, I am. Speechless.
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

Yesterday afternoon, I had a wonderful surprise: a dear friend of mine, Fub*, whom I'd not seen in a while came into town with her two daughters to have lunch. Of course, lunch is a bit of a deal when you have two toddlers in tow, so mon heure du déjeuner turned into a good chunk of the afternoon.

Brought them into the office to see another friend (actually, the father of Fub's oldest friend) and to get a notion of where I work. Catching up having been accomplished and approval for my office surroundings having been granted, we headed up the street to the old standby, the S & S deli.

The girls, Leelee and Lou, (aged 3 and 5), were typical exuberant toddlers once they got used to me again. They were, for the most part, very well behaved and a joy to be around. Now, I must say that I'm not a huge kid-person (most likely to my overexposure to the semi-domesticated Cantabrigian beasts who don't actually 'run amok,' but 'express themselves'), so this is a fair bit of praise indeed. I can't imagine sitting for anyone but these girls (and little Bonnie out west), they're just so wonderful. Mom had them wearing matching dresses that she'd made herself, as well, so they looked the part they were playing (charming). After ordering lunch (a plate of blueberry pancakes and chocolate milk for the girls, the quiche special and caffeinated beverages for us), and getting the girls settled down, we set about the task of catching up.

Lots of water under the bridge over the past couple years, on both sides: sickness, deaths, money issues, bouts of depression. Questions on career aspirations and matters of self actualization. Relationship questions. You name it, we discussed it. Gosh darnit, it felt so good talking to one of my oldest friends here again after such a long period of radio silence! Fub is a hero of mine, too: she's made a very successful tranfer from what she studied (French Literature and Psychology) to what she currently does now (Statistical Analysis). I feel as though I've been sort of clumsily following in her footsteps over the past 8-9 years and really wanted to pick her brains on what she did to get where she is now.

Though her relationship isn't always roses and parades (what one is?), I really hold her and Chum's partnership up as a standard. A pretty high one, too, to be sure, and perhaps something that may well finish my ruin if my mothers' relations haven't done the job completely.

When lunch was done, we went across the street for dessert at Christina's, possibly the best ice cream in the world. Fub ended up with the hit of the day: the white chocolate with peanut butter cup. Lou had ordered it but ended up not liking it, so of course it became Mom's. In solidarity, I ordered the same thing. The girls had cookie dough. While we were sitting on the benches, swinging our feet, dripping dessert all over, laughing like old kids (vielles filles? -snort), a snippet of an old song came to mind:

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful
And you may ask yourself-Well...How did I get here?

How on earth did we get here? Goodness. Fub got to Inman Square from her place of origins with an older model Volvo, which I walked them all to afterwards in an effort to prolong the visit. Lots of hugs were passed around and we made promises to see each other again when we both got back from vacation at the end of August. Or at least to attempt the targeted quarterly visits. It's not difficult for me to get to where she is at all, though I don't drive. I should make a more concerted effort.


*Fub is like Bebere - it's the pronunciation of our names by people from far away.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Heading on Rte 2 west, just past Emerson Hospital, we did a double take at this scene whizzing by us. Had to park the car and hike out to get a closer look.

Doesn't this look like something you'd more likely see in Giverny or down in Provence? A lady we met (looked like she was geocaching or something) after we got out of the car mentioned that this purple looks picture-perfect and paints well.

Purple Loosestrife
is actually a rather nasty invasive species. Introduced in the late 60s/ early 70s, it quickly took over the wetlands in its new home, crowding out and choking off native species, like cattails.

Monday morning flower for this week is a glorious sunrise of a dahlia from Arija's garden.

A small butterfly (some sort of copper? I'm not really good with butterflies) rests on a poppy.

Morning Glories are glorious in full bloom, but I think that they are much more interesting when they are just buds,

or after they've closed up shop for the day.

On the edge of the wood which bounds the garden, we found these delicate, lacy plants. No one had seen them before, so I've no idea what they are called.

The ladyslippers were no longer in bloom, but there were still many small patches of Indian Pipe - a strange, clorophyll-lacking woodland plant indigenous to this region. We call them 'ghost flowers.'

We also found gorgeous variations on a moss theme.

We managed to find, in addition to several gooseberry, elderberry, blackberry and raspberry bushes, a number of producing wild grape 'arbors.'

Hickory nuts and hazelnuts were in abundance, as well.

On leaving the woods, we found ourselves on an expansive prairie leading to...

A large Christmastree farm

Interspersed with the balsam firs were some domesticated blueberry bushes gone feral. I felt like a bird picking at the huge, so easy to gather fruit. Must have eaten at least a pint apiece.

Arija under a larch. At one point, we all were lolling around under the lowslung branches of this tree. Hal, of course, got to reconnoitering a bit and snapping shots. I am off to the lower right taking a nap.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sunday night, 10:15 pm.

A half-glass of Australian chardonnay is on the desk, Don Giovanni is on the radio, the ceiling fan is causing a slight movement of air in my room. All's well in my world.

Little girl cat has become very affectionate; she's currently sitting at my left arm as I type. I stop what I'm writing periodically to caress her head and neck. It occurs to me that she feels like a silk tree blossom.

We were going to go see the movies based on Conrad novels at the HFA tonight, but since I'm currently battling a summer (insult to injury) cold and Hal's in the process of catching it, we decided to lay low. To be honest, I'm not too disappointed. We had one heck of a weekend, and I'm perfectly happy to relax and enjoy an hour or so of opera mixed in with urban music before going to bed.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Only love can make it rain
The way the beach is kissed by the sea
Only love can make it rain
Like the sweat of lovers laying in the fields

Love, reign o'er me
Love, reign o'er me
Rain on me, rain on me

On the dry and dusty road
The nights we spend apart alone
I need to get back home to cool, cool rain
I can't sleep and I lay and I think
The nights are hot and black as ink
Ooh, O God, I need a drink of cool, cool rain

Love can bring the rain
That makes you yearn to the sky
Only love can bring the rain
That falls like tears from on high

Love, reign o'er me
Rain it over me, over me, over me, whoa
Love, reign o'er me
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, on me

-the Who

Love is indeed reigning over us, at long last: a heavy, drenching, steady storm complete with thunder and lightning. (Sigh, a breeze in my room, now, too, for the first time in at least a couple weeks.) I hope this helps lift the oppression that's been over us for so long; would love to be able to sleep a full night, breathe again, think clearly again.

Off to bed, now. 'Night.
Mange ta soupe!

How are you going to grow up to be big and strong if you don't?

(Mille et un rémerciements à mon ami de loin pour avoir decidé de partager son déjeuner avec moi.)
This is such a neat idea. I know that I'd probably have been much happier if I had a garden parcel at school.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Not that I'm pro Miss Universe or anything, but this strikes me as pretty ridiculous. For crying out loud, there's still deliberation as to whether or not to allow sharia courts jurisdiction in Ontario (as well as in other provinces). Allowing that sort of thing would seem to me to be more damaging to women's rights than the "sexual stereotyping" of a beauty pageant.

-via Power Line.
Farewell, but (hopefully) not goodbye to Manray.

I was only just a little shocked to hear from some friends that Manray was moving out of its current digs. Central Square has been going the way of Harvard Square for several years now, and I believe that the the fetish club's building is slated to go condo.

At least this fun, quirky little institution is going out with style, anyway, which is more than what can be said for a couple of old haunts (The Rat, which tried to go bistro, but is now, I think part of a luxury hotel. Bunratty's, which is now some sort of polished-wood and brass bar called Wonderbra or something). Such is the price of gentrifi...progress, I guess.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A propos as Hell, this tampon art.
Pretty clever, too.

-thanks Jo!
Silk Blouse? Check.

Nice Looking (not jeans) Pants? Check.

Pearls? (What the heck, go for the colored ones.) Check.

Now, what to wear for shoes?

Given that there are so many choices for nice, summery things to wear on an Occasion (and meeting the President is an Occasion, on par with if not above going to a concert or an art event...even for those who don't agree with his politics), why would anyone even think of wearing flip flops, for crying out loud?

-Thanks, Nick, you fashion maverick, you.
A snippet of a conversation I overheard between two relatively affluent-looking matrons in a fashionable ethnic boutique outside of Harvard Square:

"Look, a Frida Kahlo journal and a Frida Kahlo tee shirt. Should I get them for Meghan? You know how much she likes countercultural things."
Pablo, the Late-blooming Karaoke Fiend

Don’t look now, they have created a new monster at Pizzeria Uno.

So I sang George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” last night, after the host let everybody know that I was a karaoke VIRGIN.

I did it almost all without looking at the prompter. Still I flubbed one line (“I’ll make a young girl squeal”) and I reentered one measure early after the second instrumental break and then repeated the line. But nobody really cared about that. And boy, did I growl my heart out. More than one person told me I was a great mimic or that I out-Georged George. (“Who knew?”) And I air-guitared too. And I don’t mean just wheeling my right hand around. I had listened obsessively enough to that track that I could anticipate where every up and down glissando and tremolo was in the main solo so I could move my left hand just so. I got a comment too about that from a friend.

Somebody was screaming for me, and not just my ladyfriend. I think. One of the familiar waitresses hugged me when I returned to my seat and said “I’m in love!” (“But I’m taken,” I said.) One of the regular singers told me that the host told him that he was truly blown away.

And when the night was over, and the host awarded his (totally subjective) $25 prize, guess who got it.

Yeah, I brought the house down. I am going to be a tough act for me to follow now. But if I sing again, it will be something in a wholly different veWhat constitutes a suitable repertoire addition in this genre?in. The folks there who know me could appreciate the irony of me singing a bad-boy song. They know that in real life I ain’t even bad to the skin. I don’t want to get type-cast now as the act that I’m not. It would get tired.

So, maybe a silly humorous song next week. Suggestions?

I wouldn't even know where to begin.
Heat, poor air quality, hormones

all make for a very sick and cranky Be.

I'm hoping that the weather will break soon; cannot handle the wheezing 1/2 way into my walk to work or the being constantly exhausted in spite of 12 hour's worth of (troubled) sleep.
I've always been a very powerful, violent dreamer. I know that I've hit people, wandered places, danced, talked quite animatedly in several languages since I was a child. The following is an account I made (a study on prose poetry - think symbolists, think Baudelaire) of a particularly intense experience I had in my first weeks adjusting to a new world.

Too much information, maybe, but I don't tend to abide by the new-age term "astral projection." There is a clinical term for this; it's called dissociation and often times severely physically abused people happen into it as a means of self-preservation. I believe it is most commonly found among child abuse victims, rape victims, women who work in prostitution, and occasionally people who have been tortured. Another theoretical manifestation of this is multiple personality, though I don't know if it's something real or if it's a dramatizing by the media of some sort of compartmentalization.

I got so good at dissociating that sometimes during meetings at work, I'd float out of my body and just sit in a corner near the ceiling and watch things going on from overhead. The hardest thing in the world was to train myself to stay in my body when I felt threatened. Now, I'm pretty good at that and haven't had a relapse of leaving myself in probably about four years.

I don't particularly like the story so much...too repetetive and very uneven. Even today, nearly 15 years after I dreamed the dream, I still have fond recollections of it. I did actually transcribe the melody and keep it in a notebook in my piano bench, though I don't think I'll ever want to play it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Have You Ever Had a Dream?

Dès ma jeunesse, j'avais ce que quelques-uns appelaient un grand pouvoir surnaturel, et que d'autres appellent une névrose. Pour moi, in ne s'agit ni de pouvoir, ni de folie, mais plutôt d'une sensibilité très élèvée qui se manifeste aux temps les plus importunes. Dans mon meilleur état (si on doit trouver un côté bon), je me mis en contact avec un monde plus dense et intéressant.populé par toutes sortes d'êtres qui n'existent pas dans notre dimension actuelle. Le pire est quand les autres gens se mèlent dans mes affaires. Là de deviens soit l'oiseau mis dans une grotte pour éprouver l'air que lesmineurs devront inspirer, soit une sorte de sorcière moderne à être chassée, exposée, isolée.

Alors, ce n'est pas souvent que je parle de mon 'don extraordinaire' (ce qu'une sage practiquante appelle "être dans sa peau astrale.") Je n'ai pas tellement de contrôle sur mes pouvoirs, et cela me porta beaucoup de problèmes dans le passé. J'étais toujours embêtée par les préssentiments, par les 'vibrations' que je senties des autres gens, mais le coup definitif contre cette sensibilité vint il y a quelques ans, quand j'étais une étudiante, jeune et pauvre. C'est là, quand je décidai de ne jamais me mèler dans l'autre monde des "sans corps."

Dans les montagnes, toute seule et très malheureuse de ma situation,un soir je me rendis vraiment hors de moi afin d'échapper à la pein de mon existence quotidienne. Au début ce n'était que du plaisir suivi d'une culpabilité incroyable. Voici ce qui m'arriva:

Je m'étendis sur le lit, ne voulant rien savoir de plus. Fermant les yeux, je notai le sens bien connu de la séparation et de me trouver sans poids. Instinctivement, je savais qe ce ne serait pas une bonne idée d'ouvrir les yeux, parce que tout ce que je verrais serait mon propre corps avec l'air de ne pas être vivant. Un cadavre. Quelque chose que, même si j'étais de bonne humeur, je n'aimais pas du tout voir. Dieu sait ce qui ferait cette image à mon esprit à ce temps-là. Alors, je me laissai prendre par la brise qui soufflait d ema fenêtre, préférant voler 'aveuglement' - sans savoir où je serais livrée.

La sensation de voler sans corps est tout à fait différente de ce qu'on fait avec le plus ou moins 70 kg de viande qu'on porte d'habitude. On n'a pas les mêmes restrictions comme la peur, la pesanteur, le sens qu'il ya a un gros poids qui nous enchaîne, qui nous fait tomber au lieu de planer comme un spectre.

Je continuai à me déplacer ainsi pendant je ne sais pas combien de temps, et éventuellement, je sus quand je me trouvai à ma destination. Ouvrant mes yeux, je n'étais pas du tout choquée de voir que j'étais au desert égyptien au milieu des pyramides...pas les pyramides de Khufu, mais celles crées par le premier architecte connu: Imhotep. Vous savez: les pyramides comme celles des Aztèques au Mexique qui ont des étapes, comme un gâteau de mariage. La frisson que je sentis n'était que du plaisir. Un grand plaisir d'être quelque parte où je me sentis à l'aise, un lieu chéri que je connaissais comme ma poche, même si je ne le visitai que dans les livres, les rêves.

Mon bonheur était si intense de me trouver enfin au pays de mes rêves de ma jeunesse, même si ce ne fut que l'étoffe des rêves. Malgré le fait que je n'avais pas du corps, je me sentis très fortement.

Là, il fut la nuit et le ciel prenait la forme du "dôme céleste," comme l'appellaient les sages anciens. Un dôme couvert en velours d'un blue si riche que cela me donna envie de pleurer, c'était si profond, si...beau. Un bleu parsemé de petits diamants.

Tout autour de moi il faisait clair et plat, et il y avait toujours cette brise qui enleva le sable. Mais cela ne m'embêta pas: je plainai peut-être 5-10 centimetres au dessus de la terre, et j'étais insulée des éléments. Je me souviens clairement de ma surprise de ne pas être gênée par la froideur charactéristique du désert la nuit - n'étant couvert que par un drap de lin qui flotta autour moi, agité par le vent. Amoena est, pensai-je, comme de l'eau parfaite du bain.

Ciel bleu de al nuit, les étoiles, perdant ce fardeau du corp et les malaises qui venaient avec: la peur du froid, d'être pieds-nus au sable, des bestioles du dé comédie d'un chien qui aboya en me voyant à côté de son maître qui ne sentit rien de ma présence. (Manifestement, les animaux sont beaucoup plus sensibles que les hommes) une mélodie pentatonique et charmante venant d'une flûte qui se trouve toujours dans mon esprit .(Ou, avait elle ses origines des petites cloches dansantes sur le vent?) Je continuerai à errer si contente, sans conception du temps.

Puis...le commencement de la morte de ce monde: une pensée qui m'infiltra. "Que signifie pour moi cette situation?" Troublée par cette question, je sentis tout d'un coup le froid m'attaquer, puis un pied qui toucha le sable brutalement glacé. Mon poids revint, et je me mis à pleurer sans espoir, sans arrêt.

Je me trouva revenue à moi violemment aux pieds froids comme la mort et gratés par le sable. Je me rendis malade à force de mes sanglots, mes soupirs. Eventuellement, je m'endormis.

Le matin, il fallait donner des excuses à la dame avec qui j'habitai: c'était un cauchemar...j'avais le mal du pays, etc, etc.

Je savais alors qu'il me fallait choisir entres mes deux réalités: soit essayer de me balancer sur le frontier, toujours évéillante contre lesgens que ne comprendraient pas, soit renoncer complètement à cette joie, la liberté de courir sans bagages, d'essayer de me débrouiller sans vision, sans sensibilité. Je ne suis pas sûre d'être contente de la décision que je pris. Parfois c'est comme si je ranonçai à la couleur pour noir-et-blanc. Enfin, le choix se fit, et je dois vivre avec jusqu'à ce que je sois assez forte par supporter un autre. Pour maintenant, je me chauffe avec les souvenirs.
Ever since my childhood, I've had what some have called a supernatural sort of power, and what others call a psychological condition. For me really, it's neither a power nor insanity; just a heightened sensitivity that can manifest itself at inconvenient times. In the best of times, (if you want to find a good side to all this), I find myself in contact with a richer and more interesting world that is populated by all sorts of beings that don't exist on our plane. The worst is when other people get mixed up in my world. Then I become sort of a canary-in-a coalmine or a modern-day witch to be hunted down, exposed, isolated somehow.

It's not often that I talk about this 'extraordinary gift' that a wiser person than I calls "being in one's astral skin." I don't really have much command over these 'powers,' and this has caused me some problems in the past. I was always annoyed by presentiment, by "vibrations" that other people gave off, but the definitive blow against bothering with this sensitivity came a few years ago, when I was a young, poor student. At that point, I decided to never mix myself up in that 'out of body' world again.

In the mountains, all alone and extremely unhappy with my situation, I ended up literally throwing myself out of my body in order to escape the pain of my daily existence. First there was great pleasure which was followed by in incredible sense of shame. Here is what happened:

I stretched myself out on my bed, not wanting to deal with anything anymore. Closing my eyes, I noted that familiar sensation of separation and finding myself weightless. Instinctively, I know that it wouldn't be such a good idea to open my eyes, as all I'd see would be my own lifeless body below. A cadaver. Something that,even if I were in a decent frame of mind wouldn't be pleasant to see. God knows what that sight would have done to my psyche at that time. I let myself be taken away on the wind at my window, preferring to fly blindly - without knowing where I'd be taken.

The feeling of flying without a body is quite different from how one feels when one is carrying around the usual 150 or so pounds of meat. You don't have the same restrictions like fear, heaviness, the feeling that you're chained to a great weight that causes you to fall, rather than float like a spirit.

I consinued to mover around as such for however long, and eventually I arrived at my destination. Opening my eyes, I was not at all shocked to find that I was in the Egyptian desert, among pyramids. Not those belonging to Khufu, but rather the pyramids designed by the first known architect, Imhotep. You know - the pyramids like those the Aztecs built in Mexico - step pyramids that always remind me of wedding cakes. A shiver of pleasure went down my back; great pleasure at feeling so at ease somewhere, at being in a place so dear to me, that I knew like the back of my hand, even if I'd only dreamt about it or read about it before. So happy to have found myself in a landscape of my childhood dreams, even though I was only the stuff of dreams. Despite my not having a body, I remember feeling very intensely.

It was nighttime and the sky took on the aspect of a "celestial dome," as people in ancient times called it. A vast dome covered in a rich, blue velvet (so blue that it made me want to cry) and sprinkled with little diamonds.

All around me it was clear and flat, and there was always this little breeze which lifted the sand. This did not annoy me, however: I floated maybe a few inches off the ground and I was protected from the elements. I clearly remember my surprise at not being bothered by characteristic cold of the desert at night, even though I was only covered in linen drape of sorts that floated on the wind. "how pleasant," I thought, just like perfect bathwater.

Blue night sky, stars, losing the weight of my body and the discomforts that came with it: the fear of cold, of being barefoot in the sand and worrying about the desert creatures...the comedy playing out of a dog barking at me whose master had no clue of my presence (evidently animals are much more sensitive than people), and a sweet little pentatonic melody coming from a flute (or was it a windchime?) which still, years later, rests within me. I continued to wander happily, without any notion of time.

Then came the beginning of the end of this world: one little thought that found its way into my consciousness. "What am I doing here?" Troubled by this question, I started immediately to feel the cold, and a foot hit the brutal sand. My weight returned and I began to cry for what seemed like forever. The return to my body was so brutal, complete with frosted and scraped-up feet. Though sick from the force of my sobbing and hyperventilating, eventually I did manage to fall asleep. The next morning, I had to make excuses to the lady I was living with: had a nightmare; homesick, etc, etc.

After that experience, I knew that I had a choice of how to deal with my two realities: either try to balance myself on this frontier, always keeping an eye out for people who'd not understand and give me problems or just let go of this joy completely, this liberty to travel without baggage, to try to make due without the different sensibility or vision. I'm not sure that I am happy with the choice I made; it feels sometimes like I've given up Color for Black-and-White. In the end, though, the decision was made and I will have to live with it until I'm strong enough to handle something different. For now, I manage to comfort myself with the good memories.

This Monday's flower is another little mystery bloom that Hal found on one of his walks from work.

Friday, July 15, 2005

A pacemaker for the brain. How interesting.

I've heard rumors of a return of "shock therapy" for depression - heck, if it works, if it helps, why not. I do think that we've come a long way from lobotomies and cutting the corpus collosum in severe epilepsy cases.
This doesn't surprise me at all.

Mainstream "Christian" and the definition of "Christian" according to the congregationalists, nazarenes, etc is somewhat different. Not that this bothers me any; I'd have thought that the families looking to adopt would have done a bit more thorough research into the mission/regulations/doctrine of the private group they were trying to adopt via.

Adoption is very difficult in the US, from agreements by African-American social worker groups to not place black children with white parents to things like the above. This is why so many are currently adopting from China or Russia. (Personally, I know of 12 families who have gone this route.)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Random question of the day:

"Hey Be, do you have any opinions about George Thorogood and The Destroyers?"

Not really, to be honest. Good blues/rock band?
While rearranging my apartment, I've been turning up all sorts of interesting things - old notebooks from school, pictures and journals from various adventures I'd been on, etc. Some of this has been fun to look at again, some downright painful, some a little bit embarassing.

The latest find was a notebook from the only creative writing class I ever took (Mid 90s, Harvard Extension School. Taught in French. Très cool.). Sorry if it seems pretentious to some (we can't all be lovers of night-clubbing and karaoke); I think it's awfully funny. Just wait till I get around to the bad poetry.
This first one was a stab at 'epistolary' style. I'd been dipping into the PersianLetters (an enlightenment era Griffin and Sabine story) pretty liberally at the time, if you couldn't already tell. And for the record: Annie really did make money off her classmates sewing buttons and fixing hems. One of her roommates (an honest-to-goodness Seven Sisters alum) really did lecture her on feminism and the embrasure of a queer lifestyle while squeezing herself into the tightest skirt she owned to pick up a boyfriend at the airport. Oh, and Benno really did tell her, too, that girls age out at around 30.

D'Anja à Benno à Bruxelles.

Heureuses soient les femmes de notre pays, mon ami! Quand je partis pour L'Amérique, je ne voulais pas accepter ce que tu me disais à propos de nous et de notre place dans la société. Maintenant,après avoir vécu presque dix ans dans une ville américaine soi-disant libérale, je vois bien que c'était toi qui avais raison et moi qui avait tort.

Nos femmes se forment d'une manière mieux équilibrée qu'ici. C'est à dire qu'elles apprennent un métier (ou bien une carrière. Les noms sont très importants aux américains.) au même temps où on leur apprend comment faire le ménage, comment cuisiner, comment élèver des enfants. Les femmes chez nous peuvent être sportives et savoir comment se maquiller, ou bien porter une robe s'il leur faut.

Ici, c’est autre chose complètement. Dans la faculté ou j’étais inscrite, je trouvai une solidarité différente entre les femmes: une basée sur leur superieurté sur les hommes. D’après elles, la femme pourrait faire meme les travaux les plus “masculins” mieux que les hommes. En gros, c’était la verité, aussi: ces ingénieures, mathématiciennes, physiciennes et chimistes toutes douées en leurs sujets avaient aussi la patience naturelle aux femmes pour bien communiquer et instruire les autres. Cela me fit une forte impression.

Mais, ce savoir s’influence parfois tres négativement les autres cotés de leurs vies. Personne parmi mes collègues ne pouvait ni coudre, ni cuisiner. Je ne plaisante pas! Après avoir entendu l’histoire d’une amie qui paya un prix vulgaire à un tailleur pour rattacher un bouton perdu à une veste, (Sa mère n’avait pas voulu qu’elle sache les occupations de femme afin de ne pas être releguée à un role “inférieure” dans cette société.) je commencai un “business” pour gagner un peu d’argent de poche en faisant de petites oeuvres de tailleur. Sais-tu, Benno, que je gagnai presque autant d’argent par ce petit boulot que par mon travail de boursière? Quant à la cuisine: le nombre de femmes il me fallait apprender à faire des choses simples pour un petit thé: un oeuf dur ou du pain grillé par exemple, est incroyable! Comment ces femmes élèveront-elles leurs propres enfants? Je n’ai aucune idée. Probablement avec beaucoup d’aide des bonnes payées de leurs salaires “abondants” qu’elles envisagent gagner.

Au fac, c’était l’homme l’ennemi. Maintenant, j’entends les mêmes arguments (que nous sommes supérieures, qu’une femme sans homme est comme un poisson sans vélo…) mais pendant cette discussion, la femme est en train de s’habiller en jupe courte et de préparer une liste de plats à commander chez le traiteur pour enchanter son homme actuel avec une soirée “domestique.”

Te rappelles-tu du temps ou notre cher ami Ruis me demanda pourquoi une femme si “habille et belle” comme moi n’avait pas de prétendant? Ma réponse (qui le deplut beaucoup) était: “Chez moi, les femmes couplent avec leurs hommes et puis les tuent.” Je ne plaisantai qu’à moitié: c’est la politique des Américaines. Avec leur territorialité, leur agression et leurs conquêtes, elles sont comme les réquins. Il y a longtemps que j’arretai de faire le bilan de combien de fois je devins l’ennemi d’une femme parce que j’étais “pas attachée” et que son copain se sentait à l’aise en ma présence. (C’est- à -dire qu’on était amis avant ou on avait la même orientation scolaire, alors on avait quelque chose dont on pouvait bien parler.) Le business de chasser est serieux, parfois plus important que l’amitié entre femmes. De toute mon equipe originelle de copines, je n’entend plus de nouvelles, sauf si quelqu’un se rompt avec son homme, ou si elle a des problemes avec. Je trouverais ce nouveau genre de solidarité pathetique si je n’avais ni sens d’humeur, ne vie ailleurs.

Alors, mon ami. Tu me dis la dernière fois que j’étais trop libre avec mes opinions, avec mon desir d’indépendance. Que je ne trouverais jamais un partenaire si je continuais à ma manière actuelle. Tu étais aussi très astuce de souligner le fait que cela deviendrait de plus en plus difficile de commencer une vie familiale quand on approche l’age de 30 ans. Cela me pris beaucoup de temps et de larmes en me rendant compte de ma situation. Je vois qu’ici on suit la même logique que chez nous, mais d’une facon plus sauvage, plus tordue. Je me sens comme si je perdis beaucoup de temps. Si tu pourrais accepter une fille un peu usée mais d’autant plus sage qu’avant, je suis prête à revenir, à accepter mon destin.
From Anja to Benno in Brussels

Happy are the women in our country, my friend! When I left for America, I did not want to accept what you told me about us and our place in society. Now, after having lived nearly ten years in a so called "liberal" American city, I see that you were right and I was wrong.

Our women are educated in a more balanced manner than the women here. That is, they learn a profession (Rather, a career. Names and labels are very important to Americans.) while they are taught how to take care of a household, cook, raise children. Women where we come from can be athletic and know how to make themselves pretty. Even wear a dress if they need to.

Here, it's completely different. At the university where I studied, I found a different kind of solidarity between women: one based on their superiority over men. According to them, a woman could do even the most "masculine" of work better than a man. Largely among these women, it was true: the engineers, mathematicians, physicists and chemists were broadly and deeply proficient in their subjects. They all were gifted with a patience that comes naturally in women and a superior ability to communicate. This made a great impression on me.

However, the price that this knowledge exacted from other areas was a high one: No one among my colleagues could even sew or cook. I am serious! After having heard the story of a friend who paid an extortionate price to a tailor to have a button replaced on a coat (her mother did not want her to have any knowledge of "woman's work" so that she'd not be relegated to an inferior status in society), I started a little business doing minor seamstress work in order to make a bit of pocket money. Benno, would you believe that I made almost as much money from this under the table job as I did in my work-study? As for cooking: the number of women I had to teach to make even the simplest items for a proper tea: some toast or a hard-boiled egg for example, is unbelievable! How are these women going to raise their own children, I wonder? Probably with much help from nannies paid by the abundant salaries they figure that they will be making.

At school, it was Man as the Enemy. Now, I hear these same theses (that we are superior, that "a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle") being discussed while my female friends are dressing up in their shortest skirts and writing up lists of prepared dishes to order from the gourmet shops to charm their current men with a "domestic" evening.

Remember when our dear friend Ruis asked me why a girl as "pretty and talented" as I had no fiance? My answer (which displeased him greatly) was that "here, women mate with their men, then kill them." I was only half-joking: it's American female politics. With their territoriality, their aggression, their conquests, they are much like sharks. I stopped keeping count of the number of times I became the enemy of a woman because I was "unattached" and her boyfriend felt at ease in my presence (that is, we were friends before he met his mate, or we had studied the same subjects in school, so had things to talk about). This business of hunting down a mate is a serious one, sometimes more important than camaraderie among women. Of my entire original group of female friends, I hear nothing now, save for when one breaks up with her partner or she is having relationship problems. I'd find this new sort of solidarity pathetic if I did not have a sense of humor or rich life in other areas.

So, my friend. You said to me last time that I was too free with my opinions, with my desire for independence. That I would never find a partner if I continued as I currently do. You were also very astute to point out that it gets progressively more difficult to start a conjugal life as one approaches the age of 30. It took me much time and many tears to realize my situation. I do see here that they follow the same logic as back at home, only in a more brutal, tortuous manner. I feel as though I lost much time here. If you could ever accept a girl who is a bit worn out, but much more wise than before, I'm ready to come home and to accept my role, my destiny.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.
Tu réclamais le Soir; il descend; le voici:
Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville,
Aux uns portant la paix, aux autres le souci.

Pendant que des mortels la multitude vile,
Sous le fouet du Plaisir, ce bourreau sans merci,
Va cueillir des remords dans la fête servile,
Ma Douleur, donne-moi la main; viens par ici,

Loin d'eux. Vois se pencher les défuntes Années,
Sur les balcons du ciel, en robes surannées;
Surgir du fond des eaux le Regret souriant;

Le Soleil moribond s'endormir sous une arche,
Et, comme un long linceul traînant à l'Orient,
Entends, ma chère, entends la douce Nuit qui marche.

-Ch. Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal CLIX



Behave, My Pain, and be tranquil.
You asked for the Night; it is falling; here:
Darkness envelops the city,
Bringing peace to some, to others worry.

While mortal men, that vile hoarde,
Under the whip of Pleasure, that merciless torturer,
Go to gather regrets in their servile pleasures,
My Pain, give me your hand; come here,

Away from them. See the passed-away years leaning
On heavenly balconies in outdated robes;
Smiling Regret surging forth from its source;

The moribund sun falling asleep under an arch,
And, like a long shroud trailing off to the East,
Hear, my darling, hear the soft night continue along.
After a week of dealing with news of a number of deaths and serious illnesses, I finally got to spend some time with Raphaella. I came out to sit on her stoop and noted that she was much quieter than usual. Her skin also was pale and and sickly-waxy looking. After much prodding on my part, she admitted that her doctor got some initial tests back and it looked like she had leukemia. She's going back for more tests tomorrow.

What could I do? I hugged her. She told me that she didn't know whether to cry or scream. I told her to both. And to keep talking. And keep letting me give her hugs.

She wanted to show me how one of her Easter lilies was blooming: 8 open flowers, 4 more buds; like gangbusters. We looked at her tomato plants, the cubanelles, the string beans who were climbing up the peach tree, the spaghetti squash (from the seeds she saved after deciding that she liked the fruit too much to be paying the extortionate money Shaws charges for it), other potherbs. I thanked her for the pepper and tomato plants she gave me, as well as the extra layer of dirt and peat that she placed over the rocky soil in my plot. Rosie, her daughter, came out to say hello and handed me a dish of spaghetti squash (simple but beautiful: only olive oil, salt, pepper and a smidge of jalapeno from last year's harvest) for dinner. Since it was late, I stayed only a few minutes more. Managed to get Raphaella laughing a bit, so was happy. It made her look not so tired, old, sickly.

Feeling sad as I was, I decided to self-medicate with more melancholy: listened to a voice that reminded me of home and looked at images of the alpine legs of Le Tour to get homesick over Grenoble. Eventually, I managed to fall asleep.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

This Just In:

American workers waste approximately two hours a day on the internet on the job.

Largely unsurprising, given that many people probably don't have enough work to do and many workplaces today don't do a tremendous amount to foster a sense of team spirit, employee loyalty or even a sense of pride in one's work. Also to consider is the number of kids out there today with $80,000 degrees in, say, Mesopotamian Archeology or Gender Studies doing data entry.

Admittedly, I do goof off a bit. Generally, though, I prefer my analogue pursuits (writing limericks with my boss and hollering back and forth between offices in something other than English) to the digital ones. My boss, well, she comes up with inventions and ideas that are eventually going to make her rich one day. Currently in the galleys is a "Teach Yourself to Read" book. Best known for her research into "print to punch" technology back in her days as a systems programmer, she's always thinking of ways to help out this generation's coders. I'm surprised that her writing good code in blue font and bad code in red font idea (so when you're looking to debug, the bad stuff jumps right out at you) hasn't caught on yet, to be honest.

Goofing off on the job has been occuring since Man came up with the notion of wage-slavery (and probably even before then). Technology can only help make one's goofing off more efficient, whether one is marketing their latest literacy self-help guide or surfing for p#rn.
Stained Glass and Serendipity

Talk of Fibonacci intervals, prime numbers and cellular automata led to the creation of a new sweater pattern by un ami de loin who's becoming a muse of sorts:

(My friend from afar tells me he generated this pattern with software he received with the Wolfram book "A New Kind of Science." It's beautiful and very hypnotic, but neither Karen nor I wish to tackle this just now.)

The conversation turned to Chartres, of gothic cathedrals and of stained glass. Still tasting that clear, deep, velvety Chartres Blue

in my head from last night, I came into work to find another bit of stained glass beauty captured by Harry over the weekend:

Which I guess leads us back to the subject of cellular automata, now, doesn't it.
Funny how that works.
Strongbad's Bottom Ten List

#3 got me to thinking about a pleasant evening Pablo and I spent entertaining our waitress at a TGI Friday a while back.

Perusal of Homestarrunner got me to thinking about how I don't visit nearly enough.

-thanks, Pablo!
Back when I was a kid, I Love New York was the catchy jingle behind a brilliant campaign to woo tourists to our fair state (yes, there's a whole lot lot more than New York City in New York State. Check it out on a map - it's a big place). If you saw the old commercials and brochures, you'd note that both the Big Apple and Niagara Falls were prominently featured with a taste of everything (from Cooperstown - the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame to the Finger Lakes region and Wine Country) included. The now world-famous I-heart-New York logo was designed by noted graphic artist Milton Glaser in 1977.

I'd not have expected someone with the provincial sensibility of one of the London Chattering Classes to have known about the New York State tourist site, the publicity project that had started when I was a child, or, for that matter, the existence of much outside of Manhattan. That is what makes this bit of gratuitous anti-americanism all the more precious. I would have thought, though, from all the gallery-watching and name dropping that these sorts generally do, that she might have been perhaps passingly familiar with Glaser or at least a couple of his better-known works.

(Thanks, Norm, for pointing this out.)


On a somewhat related note: Sarah Boxer, that class act, is at it again. This time, it's her rather typical EE scorn of anything middle class. Nice. What're looking more and more like suicide bombers kill scores of people during rush hour in London, and she's using the term "brutish" to describe the 'displays of wealth and leisure' of folks posting on this site. (via Althouse).

Monday, July 11, 2005

Three Items
at the Supermarket
I See in a New Way,
Now That I've Read
Some Books on
Literary Theory:

Cultured buttermilk

Post Raisin Bran


-Matthew Simmons

I don't read McSweeneys Internet Tendency nearly enough.

My Monday Morning Flower is a favorite that Hal found in the Champney parking lot in front of Mt Chocorua in the White Mountains forest. We used to call this Indian Paintbrush as kids - it is in fact Orange Hawkweed. Under any name, it's considered a nuisance. Being a fair bit of a weed/nuisance/invasive species myself, I'm particularly partial to it. Also am fond of that vivid burnt orange. Get enough of them growing together and it looks like your field's up in flames.

The Monday Morning Butterfly looks a bit like a White Admiral resting on a prairie coreopsis.

When the thoughts of reaching Chocorua's summit didn't seem realistic, we decided to search out waterfalls instead. Champney Falls was a short, not tremendously strenuous climb of maybe 45 minutes tops.

A calm area where the water got to rest a bit after falling from some pretty dizzying heights. Loved the play of light and shadows on it.

Almost felt guilty when we reached the falls, as they were such a disproportionate reward for the amount of work we had to do to get to them.

If you look at the bottom of this image right in the fore-fore ground, you can see the surface of the massive granite block that Hal and I were perched on - him to catch images of the water flowing, me to catch the mist that would descend on us when the wind was just right. I could easily have spent the evening there, but we had to move on.

Taking leave of the White Mountains - heading west on the Kancamangus towards 93.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Good Lord

Okay, folks - this is why Lileks is what he is, why I am not, and why I aspire to be him.
Be sure to listen to the sound clips, too. I can't say anything much beyond what he does, which is why I don't even attempt.

If you're British and don't get it - try not reading so much French Literary Criticism or listening to those who drop names from that realm. Will help a lot.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

We all knew that this was coming.

This brings me back to that beautiful day in September when a London friend made the comment that the US had it coming, that somehow those people in the airplanes and in the office buildings deserved what they got.

I'd really hoped that this might be a learning experience to some; that blaming the victim for the crime is pointless. No one deserves to die this way, be they Iraqi, Afghani, American, Israeli or Pro Blair/Pro Liberal Internationalist Britons. Some will never learn, however.

It should be obvious by the nature of the attacks that the perpetrators are not discriminating between Lib Dems, Greens, antiwar Anglicans or whatever. You're in the area, you're a commuter, you're fair game. Assigning blame on anything but the terrorists (whether they be anti-globalists or militant Islamics; Blair initially fingered G8 protesters. Some al-Qaida group claimed responsibility.) is just plain stupid and, as Norm put it, contemptible.


Of course, you can't forget this. Got to keep your bases covered.
Sickened, sad.

What else can I say?

For more information, take a look at Instapundit and over at Norm's site.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Happy Technical Monday.

Looking down on everything that we'd done and I'd published so far, it occurred to me that we'd had a very busy weekend. No wonder everyone was destroyed today.

Ordinarily, we'd have been up Monadnock maybe 3-4 times by now. The weather being what it's been (either the grand deluge or too hot to move) pushed back the first climb to a crazy late date.

To make the most of the day, we took a number of paths that we'd only hiked maybe once before and made sure to hit two summits. Hal took this picture (that's me in the lower left-hand corner, by the way) at the Monte Rosa summit - a small peak at about 2550 feet. Behind us is Monadnock's summit - maybe another 500-600 feet.

Those of you in the Alps and the Rockies may well laugh at such a small, old mountain, but it's my favorite. We've hiked a good number of the trails, and have looked over to the white mountains, to Connecticut, to Vermont and Maine from the summit. Summer wouldn't be summer for me without at least a few visits to Monadnock.


For those of you who are interested - we went up Lost Farm to Cliff Walk to Hello Rock to Monte Rosa. At Monte Rosa, we continued up Smith to the Monadnock Summit. We descended via Pumpelley and Red Spot...ordinarily we'd take Cascade, but we got out there late. Red Spot was kind of funny, as it follows an old stream bed that revived itself thanks to all the rain we'd gotten in April/May/June.
"Share a pizza with someone you love."

So say several of the signs at this pizzeria in Jaffrey. Effective hook, as it seemed to work in getting us in - first for irony, now for tradition.

Sunday, for Harborfest, we took a rare wander around the Harbor, of all places. At around the Aquarium, we got a bit demoralized at the lines for attractions/events. Eventually we recovered, though, when other diversions were found. These creatures were some of the early bloomers around Long Wharf.