radfrac_archive_full: (Default)
First an interest in barometers, and now another sign of encroaching middle age: idly musing about tide tables.

It's technically Monday now, so this sea-report is late.

It's end of term, so work is all there is in the world -- except that the sun has come out and one has a duty, you know. Here are some pictures of what that looks like along the water in James Bay, on an ostensible errand for groceries.

It was a dry day, the tide fairly well out. I only had one dodgy moment on the path, where I backtracked from a convergence of mud, narrow path, and rounded rock, all creating a natural tendency to the fatal pratfall, and ended up picking my way between the stones below instead. This was perfectly fine; the way was only partially submerged.

stones and sea and a surprising sight )


Crossposted from Dreamwidth (http://radiantfracture.dreamwidth.org/9576.html), where there are comment count unavailable comments. Comments either place are great.
radfrac_archive_full: (dichotomy)
This November, finest of any year I can remember -- close pale-blue days with furry frost filaments embedded in the grass and roses still blooming in the public gardens (scraggly latecomer roses, but roses) -- feels like a long birthday present, except that then I suppose I'd have to perceive everything else that's happened in November everywhere in the world as a present, and I probably don't want that.

The good weather means solitary walks are possible and also pleasurable. I've been pointing my head south a lot this season, walking into Oak Bay.

I feel about these walks that they are research, but research into what? A certain mobile emotion, experienced through perambulation -- through stopping and starting, choosing between routes, doubling back to look at some Thing -- imagining, choosing, reaching a destination and then departing from it -- acheiving some end, usually fairly trivial and beside the point of most of the main goals of life maintenance -- acquisition of some library books I thought I wanted to read, or some harvest-gold flowers that look like, but are not, dahlias.

The walks are like the methodology for accomplishing a task cut loose from the task itself. A line with no hook, slithering through the air, dragging the water, casting again.

The imagination, fleeting, of lives lived in certain houses or gardens, views of the sea at the end of a road, unpursued. A gentle sense of questing.

I worry that they're a waste of time. They feel like my method for something, but do they achieve that thing? Or are they a diversion -- play-acting at investigations that would take much more focus?

The difference between the feeling of something and the thing itself.

I told a friend of mine I believed in something like authenticity -- not as an absolute statement of your True Being -- but in the form of honesty about whether a thing feels good to you or it doesn't. Yet this feeling about the thing, of course, is not actually evidence of the thing's value, and that's been troubling me ever since.

I was thinking in particular about gender identity and how weird and off it feels to me when someone gives a social reason for adopting an identity, rather than an internally felt one -- saying, for example, that they owed it to other people to perform a particular gender identity -- and I know, gender is constructed, it's a surface we believe to be an interior, etc., I know all that -- yet still my impulse is that identity should be about the feeling and not about an abstract social goal, however laudable the goal -- but maybe I am wrong. The feeling is not more true than the goal. Just more concrete -- and I guess inasmuch as I trust anything, I trust this organism that I am to send me signals about what is good for me, more than I trust other people, or even social movements whose goals I generally believe in, to do that. I feel like I owe my actions to the world, but not my sense of self -- wherever it came from, however constructed, it's mine now.

I believe that somatic/emotional experience has content, or rather I feel that I believe that somatic/emotional experience has content.

All of this from a conversation we had after the conference, before she had to travel home. I was tired by then and crashing post-paper.

I should write out the story of delivering the paper -- it's funny -- but I'm trying to work out how to do it thoughtfully.

radfrac_archive_full: (dichotomy)
If BPAL had not updated their website I might still be without a PayPal account. I might never have made an eBay purchase. Would my life be worse because I lacked the means to obtain these bewitching scents? Or better because I'd still possess all my longing and my money too? Unanswerable.

The thing I have the least ability to get used to about the Internet is the way it takes longing and seeking after unattainable things and squashes them flat, like cartoon characters stomped by a boot. Fortunately there are still heaps of straight men, so I will never lack for brooding options.

I won my first two eBay bids, despite sneaky last-minute manoeuvering by nefarious strings of asterisks. The bids were for two of my lost loves, Spooky and Mead Moon, both discontinued. I had tiny vials of each — I don't know how they came to be in vials, since limited editions are sold by the bottle — someone must have decanted them, but I don't know when or by what method. I bought them like this, little knowing what I had. The Mead Moon was just a drop of sweet-spicy honey and has long since evaporated into a delicious ghostly residue. The Spooky I've been hoarding for its weird chalky mint with underlying warm magma of coconut and butter rum.

And now I can have them — just like that. While I was waiting to have them and in suspense about whether I would win them at all, I was pretty sure they were the last two things I needed to complete my earthly happiness. Now I am still medium sure, though that small unhappy frown is already forming between my eyebrows — you know it — that frown that says I thought I would be happier about this.

I more or less live as though on an unending treasure hunt, and though I like finding the things, it doesn't do to have that happen too often.

Another ramble today, quite late — the last hour before sunset. I'm much saner if I can get it at least one long walk every weekend. The city smells of smoke and cedar, and the first mown grass is rounding out its particular fougère.

And now my new thermostat is drawing the cold into the room thread by thread to tell me, by the chilling of extremities, that it is time to put myself to bed.

radfrac_archive_full: (oscura)
First proper solitary walk of the season today. I got restless around 11:00, and decided to go for a ramble. Well, first I piled up my shopping bag at BPAL with pleasures I can't afford in order to counteract my malaise. Then I decided I should distract myself with the promise of something less catastrophic for my (currently hypothetical) savings. Say, fancy chocolate.

The sun came out as I was walking towards Oak Bay, and followed me wherever I walked. )
 This is maybe the best thing about living here, the way it is possible to become lost almost immediately, and yet always be able to locate yourself again by finding the sea, which can be sighted or stumbled upon in almost any direction (except true north.) I reached home after five and a half hours or so of walking, sore in the joints but much improved in almost every particular, including the matter of chocolate.

radfrac_archive_full: (oscura)
I saw the sun! Nobody even locked me in the closet.

I think we may have called the storm again with our Weird Dolls. It's been blowing like mad this morning. It's as warm as spring. I walked up Cook Street inventing witty verses about whatever caught my eye, forgetting each line as I sang, which is an excellent way to convince yourself that your rhyme scheme makes sense. I wore no coat, just hoodie and frail t-shirt, and I'm definitely on the refreshed side of the warm-cold continuum, but not frozen.

Along the shore in the wind. Halfway down the hill I found a bench dedicated to Stella, so I sat there and watched the sea. Thirty feet above the water I could feel the spray. The waves white hands slapping and groping at the path below, like a salt giant clawing blindly on the nightstand for his glasses. There was a jogger I worried about until she came back the other way.

Climbed down to the level of the sea. The sun was pale as milk. Everything was pale. No fury of gold and red in the sunrise. Blue threaded with white, silver stained with green, but luminous and joyful, like seeing someone you love get up and walk and smile after sickness.

The concave belly of each large wave was ribbed by smaller crosswaves. The ridges of water would shoulder along the seawall, turn, and run into each other, making triangular peaks that folded over into themselves, butted headfirst against the rocks, smashed or sizzled out over the beach. A troupe of portly little ducks were in the thick of it, sometimes just their black heads showing in the wave, sometimes subsumed entirely, without even time to dive, but they would pop up and go on floating without showing any concern.

I saw a large white dog, woolly, with almost painfully noble expression, wearing what certainly appeared to be a pony blanket for your larger shetland.

I went as far as Government Street trying to decide whether to go along to the breakwater or come inside and warm up and write it down. You know that sense of obligation to take in as much beauty as is offered. I thought, well, inside is a good idea for the moment. You don't have to collect every particle of salt from the sea to know that you love it.

radfrac_archive_full: (dresden files)
On Beauty and Being Just is a little book, short enough to have been delivered as a Tanner Lecture on Human Values. I'd imagined an enormous text, comprehensive, large enough to contain all of Beauty itself somehow. No. It is wee. Beauty, as Elaine Scarry says, is in the particular.

I gather there was a debate in the humanities about the Value of Beauty which I completely missed. I think I'm relieved.

What I like most in a book is when an author identifies an experience I have had, but not fully examined. )

That is excellent, especially for those of us who feel like the sort of beauty that is often confidently repudiated. (Sorry, sorry, I read Hermia's lines last night and am still feeling a little residual self-pity.)

I carried the book about with me all day. It's small enough to disappear in my satchel and be pleasantly rediscovered.

This has been just the right sort of day. )


*Technically this is a Love Icon, but I love beauty, and besides, it's new.
radfrac_archive_full: (Default)
The main accomplishment of yesterday was going for a walk.

I stepped out just as it started spotting rain. That's my luck right there, I thought, with that kind of shallow despair we reserve for life's tiny, tiny grievances.

I wandered down through the village. Not to those mystery alleys that [livejournal.com profile] stitchinmyside and [livejournal.com profile] inlandsea and I discovered on another walk. Just along the boardwalk, as it were, and then up May Street. The rain had stopped by then.

It was so still. I slowed down, stopped walking. Once, and then again. It was as if the stillness made anything moving want to come to rest. It felt right to stand still, half a block along the road, on the rain-smelling sidewalk. A little dangerous, maybe, as though I could have stood there always. Or until the wind picked up again, if it ever did.

It was almost perfectly silent, except for the birds and birds and birds singing, but that was part of the quiet somehow. It didn't disturb the stillness, but lay under it.

I went as far as the graveyard and then down to the water. The ocean was as still as a lake. Just rilling over the end of the concrete break, infolding over the sides like an envelope. The cars were noisier there, the stillness more difficult to find, but it didn't break. I sat on the hill with the smell of the dry cut grass around me.

A quiet so huge you can't observe it, you can't hold it in your body. You can only relax into it. In that stillness you could meet anything calmly. It's still in the depths of my ears, that quiet.

radfrac_archive_full: (Ben Butley)
Wednesday was a kindling day, like when dry loose wood first catches. Feathery cedar, bright orange sparks. Hints of the age of summer that I really love; I like this green and the bright flowers, but what I like best is the grass burnt gold and the sky flame-blue, hot as metal.

Wednesday evening I followed the wailing and mewing of the peacocks, and stood with a few others watching the birds through the wire fence.

The albino peacock's tail feathers were like strands of dust bunnies, like ancient lace, like cottonwood caught in a spider web. He rattled his tail like an insect.

I know a peacock is one of those animals we've seen so long as a symbol that we can hardly see them as a living thing, but they are still extraordinary to look at. The males turn and preen exactly like shopping channel models. Under the decorative tails they have a pad of loose cotton stuffing. It's hard not to see them as petulant animals, with those voices and the strutting. And the strange history in them, as in all animals bred for effect.

When the full-colour male shakes, the eyes on his crest undulate. It's unsettling. A wavering alien gaze, unblinking, yet not quite solid. You can't meet those eyes and you can't escape them.

And there is, you know, something vaguely compelling about the whole display. The faintest trace of desire to succumb to that bravado.

Or maybe that's my demographic of one there, just begging to get itself shut down.


Waving to [livejournal.com profile] argus_in_tights, who is usually more glamorous than alien.
radfrac_archive_full: (Default)
I asked [livejournal.com profile] inlandsea for an atmospheric place to do some writing today, and she suggested the Abkhazi Gardens. What I actually ought to be working on is the last art project on my list, due May 31, but I needed the walk and the writing time.

In which our hero accomplishes his first real ramble of the season, witnesses many blossoms, and reflects on love affairs as works of art. )

radfrac_archive_full: (Default)
Yesterday was fall for the cherry blossoms. The streets and gutters are full of drifts. The crabapples (at last identified) are scattering the grass with tufts of white ruffles stained pink, like scraps left over from sewing.

Yesterday the chestnuts all lit their candles at once. The tree at Southgate, which we have walked past without much remarking every day until yesterday, was suddenly immense, a shaggy monster, a topiary O around the power lines, populated all over by upstart spindles of white blossoms.

Thursday I walked through the park by accident, east to west, in the evening just cooling. On the east side, our side, shadowed by trees and houses, the camas had just started. On the west side, slopes facing the setting sun, the camas was as thick as the grass and as high, up to my knees in places, staining the whole hillside purple.

This year is the year I noticed what I'm hypothesizing are yellow dogwoods. ([livejournal.com profile] xcaro?)Trees with flat platters of flowers, sturdy-looking, with green knobs at the centre. Whatever they are, I like their murky gold colour, touched by green, as though they haven't been convinced to forget that they were once wild.

I'm so much happier to be going for rambles again, even with sunburns and sore feet afterwards. [livejournal.com profile] stitchinmyside and I walked most of the way along the water into James Bay on an aborted journey to the Superior (we settled for beer and pizza with [livejournal.com profile] inlandsea when she got home). She pointed out a field of camas streaked with buttercups, the last sun illuminating it.

I see each thing blooming, and note it, and that should probably be enough; but when I tell each one here, I see it again, and that makes me greedy to tell you everything.

radfrac_archive_full: (Default)
I hit the dark today. Walked to work in that low light in which everything is still perfectly visible. It gets lighter as you go, of course, moment by moment, and that means you can't quite fix on the apeparance of anything -- you just decide what it looks like, and then you realize it has brightened another grade, shed another layer of shadow.

radfrac_archive_full: (Harold Ross of the New Yorker)
My first birthday present was a terrible night's sleep, threaded with narrative. I kept waking with bits of yesteday's story tangled in my hands, stuck to my mouth like hair. (And xst I need a haircut). My second was the rain. It smelled fantastic when I got outside this morning. At six-thirty. See under, no sleep.

I was going to go down to the ocean with all my extra time, but the rain made that unlikely, so I lurked in the cafes instead. I bought myself a hot chocolate and some Scratch N' Wins as a birthday present. I put in enough ambivalent magic to win a free ticket. I am satisfied. Then I went to La Dolce Vita and ate a bagel and worked on the poem of the month for November.

I don't know why I couldn't sleep. I don't have anything in particular planned for today, and as far as I recall I haven't actually mentioned my birthday to anyone, except in passing.

I'm 33 today. Good number. I like multiples of eleven. Numeric alliteration.

Happy All Soul's Day. Do something eerie and portentious. I mean to.

radfrac_archive_full: (Default)
And when I finally sat down, the cold and the salt and the noise and the constant rushing rose from my skin like a white mist, and I was left in a still place, suddenly quiet and warm.

Thursday I woke at ten to six because of the windstorm. )



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