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Friday, November 22, 2013

Frost, depression glass and Thanksgiving

The popular dude is scantily clad this morning, shiveringly cold. Cars parked outside overnight are now on the roads with small quickly scraped-clear port-holes through which bleary-eyed travelers are peering. Cars that pulled out of garages this morning are smugly clear-windowed.

It is coffee (or tea, or mate) weather. Coffee served up in a thick, probably chipped, utilitarian mug that absorbs the heat and warms the hands as much as the coffee warms the back of the throat.
It seemed those rose-pink dishes
she kept for special company
were always cold, brought down
from the shelf in jingling stacks,
the plates like the panes of ice
she broke from the water bucket
winter mornings, the flaring cups
like tulips that opened too early
and got bitten by frost. They chilled
the coffee no matter how quickly
you drank, while a heavy
everyday mug would have kept
a splash hot for the better
part of a conversation.
- Ted Kooser, from Depression Glass

Mom had an extensive collection of depression glass (her set was amber) we sometimes used for special occasions, too. Like Thanksgiving.

Explain Thanksgiving, a uniquely North American holiday, to someone from another country. The back story, told usually from the imperialist perspective, is easy enough. What we've made of the holiday which commemorates that "first" hard winter and the First Nations people that helped the settlers through it, though... "It's really a holiday about food. We spend a couple of days whipping up a big dinner, usually turkey, stuffing, gravey, mashed potatoes, and a list of other traditional foods, and then sit down with friends and family to eat. The Dallas Cowboys usually play a game on Thanksgiving, so the TV is likely on somewhere, too."

Just like those early pioneers, contemporary traditionalists will enjoy green bean casserole, jelled cranberry that, when slid from a can, looks like sliced pink dog food quivering on the platter, and baked sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and sweet enough to set my teeth on edge.

Still, any meal shared with family and friends, and with coffee, served with pie, in well worn heavy mugs - hard to go far wrong with all of that to be thankful for.

Today's Playlist:
- Weezer - Space Rock
- Train - Cab
- Pink Martini - City of Night
- Ron Affif Trio - Eric's Zinc Bar Blues
- John Mayer - Free Fallin' (Live)

- Posted via Hermes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Before the sun is lit

Tuesday, the "what day is it?" day of the week. Still the beginning of the work week, but also still early days. Wet. Choosing from the multiplicity of PNW terms for the various nuanced forms in which water can fall from the sky here, I'd say alternating misting and drizzle. Wiper speed: indecisive.
Listen. .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.
- Adelaide Crapsey, November Night

The campus is quieter in the early morning in the wet wintery months. Probably, nobody wants to get out of bed and out into the wind-blown wet any sooner than absolutely necessary (don't look to me to blame them!). I pass not a single moving person or car as I travel the length of the campus and the service road along the golf course toward my office.
In the sad November time,
When the leaf has left the lime,
And the Cam, with sludge and slime,
Plasters his ugly channel,
While, with sober step and slow,
Round about the marshes low,
Stiffening students stumping go
Shivering through their flannel.

Then to me in doleful mood
Rises up a question rude,
Asking what sufficient good
Comes of this mode of living?
Moping on from day to day,
Grinding up what will not “pay,”
Till the jaded brain gives way
Under its own misgiving.

Why should wretched Man employ
Years which Nature meant for joy,
Striving vainly to destroy
Freedom of thought and feeling?
Still the injured powers remain
Endless stores of hopeless pain,
When at last the vanquished brain
Languishes past all healing.
- James Clerk Maxwell, from Lines Written Under the Conviction That It Is Not Wise To Read Mathematics In November After One's Fire Is Out
Or maybe also not in the wet depths of November before the sun is lit and glowing weakly, filtered through the clouds.

Today's full playlist:
- Eric Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel: Clear moon, quiet winds
- Tim Janis: September (Piano Reprise)
- The Living Sisters: Hold Back
- Jakob Dylan: Something Good This Way Comes
- Terence Blanchard: In Time of Need
- David Gray: Caroline

- Posted via Hermes.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sailing into the weekend

It's happened. At some point this week, and I wasn't paying sufficient attention to mark the exact day, we hit that time of year when my car's rear-view mirror stays angled into night-mode both coming from and going to the campus. Pre-dawn and dusk now tightly bookend my working day.

A warm gourd of mate to play against the morning chill while I finish up this post and all is well.

I have had the i-device on my Bruce Cockburn playlist the last day or two, so it is all Bruce for the drive in this morning.
Rainfall on rolling green
Wavy lines and peacock sheen
Rainfall on rolling green
Prettiest world I've ever seen...

...Born under a rainbow sign
Flash of wave in space and time
Molten glass and hearts that shine
Stone to gold in fire refined
- Rainfall
Or maybe a little more commute-appropriate...
Down on the plain of 10,000 smokestacks
Trucks butt each other to establish dominance
The newspaper next to me leans over and says matter-of-factly
"Sacred mountains towers above meadows" - uh huh - and above us

Grim travellers in dawn skies
I see the beauty -- makes me cry inside
It makes me angry and I don't know why
We're grim travellers in dawn skies
- Grim Travelers
and (for those whose commute is more freeway than side street)...
Billboards promise paradise
And tattoos "done while you wait"
Possible futures all laid out
On the sweeping curve of the interstate
- Life Short Call Now
Or more comfortingly...
I ran aground in a harbour town
Lost the taste for being free
Thank God He sent some gull-chased ship
To carry me to sea

Two thousand years and half a world away
Dying trees still grow greener when you pray

Silver scales flash bright and fade
In reeds along the shore
Like a pearl in sea of liquid jade
His ship comes shining
Like a crystal swan in a sky of suns
His ship comes shining.
- All The Diamonds In The World

Which could also refer to Friday, that most popular dude, sailing into the weekend at some point later today.

Today's playlist:
- Bruce Cockburn: Rainfall
- Bruce Cockburn: Salt, Sun And Time
- Bruce Cockburn: Peace March
- Bruce Cockburn: Grim Travelers
- Bruce Cockburn: Life Short Call Now
- Bruce Cockburn: All The Diamonds In The World

- Posted via Hermes.