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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Я не понимаю по-английски (I don't understand English)

Is it, isn't it going to rain on me this morning?  Nope - nary a drip hits my car as I putter in under a contradictingly bright but glowering sky.

Cutting across campus yesterday with a colleague we noticed that many of the trees were just starting to turn, starting to cut back on the production of chlorophyll.  No!  Summer just got here - it's only early August, for Pete's sake!
The squirrels are spreading the rumor: no more monkey business.
The Dow Jones hops up, then down, then back up, trying for attention,
           up against dog days.
The Capitol dome rattles like a witch doctor's gourd. “More Republicans,”
           warn the talking drums.
The networks labor underground to stockpile T, A, and blood capsules
           for Sweeps Week, when all hell won’t be enough to save some.
Pedestrians slip into light coats of pollen and mold spores.
   - from Summer's Almost Gone, by William Trowbridge
We live in a region where all four seasons are just barely distinct from one another and where the boundaries between them are gradual zones. It plays out like 8 small seasons rather than 4: Summer, not-summer, fall, not-fall, winter, not-winter, spring, not-spring, summer, repeat...


I remember being in Khabarovsk, in the Russian Far East, in late September.  The weather had been summer-hot for the first two weeks we were there, in the 90's with high humidity.  Then one morning it simply wasn't any more. A cold wind materialized overnight and suddenly you needed a coat to go outside, and so it stayed for the remainder of our trip.  The hot water service (centrally supplied and piped in huge tunnel-sized insulated over-ground pipes (permafrost only a few feet down) turned on and suddenly you could heat your apartment and get all the hot orange-brown water you wanted from your faucets.  The boundary between one season and the next was a clear demarcation.  They have pure seasons in the Russian Far East.  We have a cycle of vague transitions.

After ubiquitous seasons and a search
For anything to give them boundaries,
I wander in the sand avoiding rocks and
Glass, complaining of the seasons how
They cramp even my mirror, clouding a face
Which the broadest sort of caution will not clear
   - from, After Seasons, by Julia Maria Morrison

Since yesterday I've been listening to a "station" on Google Play Music, this one labeled, "Uplifting Indie Motivation."  I like dipping my toes into a stream of musicians and music I may not already be familiar with; I've found a lot of the musicians I like that way.  The music featured on this "station" is energetic and enjoyable. The lyrics - well, that's a different story (or lack thereof).  I sure don't come across any poets in the set of tunes I hear this morning. Mostly fragments of sentences that don't go anywhere but which sound vaguely lost and disillusioned with one song about someone on the run from the law for a hanging crime.  So, really good high-energy music and downer-to-useless lyric content.

That same trip to the Russian Far East I picked up a couple of CDs of the current Russian pop music.  It was good stuff (even the pop music there favors minor keys), though I understood very little of the words. Not understanding the lyrics didn't detract from being able to enjoy the music, though.

So I think I'll keep this station on and just pretend I don't understand English as I enjoy our very gentle glide-path away from summer into not-as-much-summer.

Today's full playlist:

  • Geronimo, Sheppard
  • Easy, Real Estate
  • Unbelievers, Vampire Weekend
  • Time to Run, Lord Huron
  • Up Up Up, Givers

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Quiet morning

Sunny and mild, a perfect open-top morning.  Traffic is light and drivin' is easy, even on the less-than-arterial roads that make up my short commute.  The music mix is good, though none of the lyrics (all love lost and angst) seem applicable to such a sunny mellow morning.
How from the quiet center, not the rim,
each man and animal and plant must grow
is plain to me who lived without the hope
of any God, and still lack proof of Him,--
but need it less--who feel and sense and know
the tentative blind shoot drawn safely up.
   - From The Quiet Center, by Edith Henricht
The campus is ghost-town quiet this morning as I pull in and point the Fiat toward the service road to the north campus cluster of buildings.  One car follows me in, closely, its hood sniffing at my exhaust pipe like a dog's inspection/greeting (dude, there's a speed-bump here - chill!), but there is no other movement.
I draw a curve around the door of my consciousness,
The door of the dawn of my vision and revelation,
And draw within, the horns of sentience folding upon themselves,
The folded hands of revelation
Holding the core, the pith, the kernel of quiet,
Of subjectivity, close-leaved, like a budded plant,
Close-winged, like a resting bird.
     - from, Curve of Quiet, by Amy Bonner
No other cars are moving, very few parked in the lots, and not a single body to be seen.  Thursday has obviously convinced a lot of people he brought the weekend with him.

Today's full playlist:
  • Where Would I Be, Cake
  • Country Mile, Camera Obscura
  • Movin' Away, My Morning Jacket
  • Art of Almost, Wilco

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Within to Match Without

Tuesday slips in quietly, wearing a thick roll of dark clouds around her like a comforter shawl that makes the morning light darker than usual through the bedroom blinds, and I would love to stay a bit later under my own comforter.  But I cannot think of any good reason to do so and can think of several good reasons not to.


A tattering of rain and then the reign
Of pour and pouring-down and down,
Where in the westward gathered the filming gown
Of grey and clouding weakness, and, in the mane
Of the light’s glory and the day’s splendor, gold and vain,
Vivid, more and more vivid, scarlet, lucid and more luminous,
Then came a splatter, a prattle, a blowing rain!
And soon the hour was musical and rumorous:
A softness of a dripping lipped the isolated houses,
A gaunt grey somber softness licked the glass of hours.
   - from, Darkling Summer, Ominous Dusk, Rumorous Rain, by Delmore Schwartz
I have to press the wipers into action on the drive in this morning, setting them to pass ever so slightly infrequently to keep pace with a light rain more mist than drops.  The cars that share my short commute seem divided into two specific camps: impatient, pushing, mad at the rain drivers and those drivers dawdling in indecisive wonder at all this sudden wetness.  Rain?  Summer? Pacific Northwest?
The rain, in the backyard where I watch it fall, comes down at different rates. In the center a fine discontinuous curtain — or network — falls implacably and yet gently in drops that are probably quite light; a strengthless sempiternal precipitation, an intense fraction of the atmosphere at its purest.
   - from, Rain, by Francis Ponge
The music stream shuffle is as determinedly mellow as the rain.  Even Bela Fleck's rapid-fire banjo rendition of a Paganini piece lands languidly on the ear.  Intermittent thunderstorms are predicted for later today; maybe the drive home will feature more raucous music, within to match without.

Today's Full Playlist:

  • Heaven/Where True Love Goes, Yusuf Islam
  • As Time Goes By, Mark O'Connor, Wynton Marsalis, Jane Monheit
  • Dreams Be Dreams, Jack Johnson
  • Number One, Joni Mitchell
  • Paganini - Moto Perpetuo, Bela Fleck
  • All Good Things, The Weepies