Photo Essay

Memorial Weekend was gloomy and rainy until, of course, we went to the gym to climb.  Then the sun emerged.  Still, friends and dancing and breakfasts and coffee.  The days are starting to feel like they last for days, sun barely down as I get ready for bed.  I’m trying to get to sleep earlier, to rise earlier.  Stretching and a little yoga this morning with my housemate, coffee and oatmeal, and now headed off for coffee with my aunt.  Falling in love again again.  I know I am always joyous when I’m writing here, but isn’t that better than dreary and sad?  There is so much to enjoy in life, despite the way we (as people in general) can crash into each other with disasterous results.  I am writing letters again during the slow periods at work and sending them to someone I know is worth the time.  I am keeping my room clean(ish).  I am writing more.  I am reading more.  I am taking pictures.

Communities

I am in love.

Let me clarify.  Sir Oliver Lodge and John Tyndall are men I continue to return to, continue to be fascinated with.  Thanks to a delay at work, I have had several hours to return to a book (haphazardly and luckily thrown in my bag this morning) about the life of Lodge. 

Reading biographies always makes me re-evaluate my own life.  I’d never heard of Lodge before I began this strange pursuit of ether science.   Now I find myself reading about his life and feeling like I stumble into old friends.  

Because I have the time, here is my history with Lodge:

I stumbled on Sir Walter Rayleigh’s scattering principle while looking for a way to structure my thesis.  He charted observations of the blue sky, and the resulting image looked like the graceful arc of iris petals.  I wanted to understand why, and so I began to look into refraction and reflection, which led me to John Tyndall.  Within his transcriptions from his light lectures Tyndall talked about the humours of the eye (poem inspired is available upon request) and the ether of the sky.  As anyone who has accidently asked me what I’ve been working on can attest, I haven’t been the same since.  I know more about ether than anyone ought to–and I’m beginning to move into dark matter.  But that’s another topic.

In reading (and reading and reading) about ether, I continue to run into the same names.  This isn’t strange, but what does strike me is how often I run into the same names in different contexts.  A few weeks ago my cousin gave us tickets to Bone Portraits, a play about Edison and X-Rays.  Roentgen was one of the characters, and in reading about Lodge today, there was Roentgen.  Lodge worked with telegraphy at the same time as Marconi, but I would hazard a guess that more people would recognize the Italian.  He corresponded with J. J. Thompson (later Lord Kelvin) and had dinners with H. G. Wells.  Men whose names I remember from science class years ago inhabit these pages, but I can’t remember hearing about Lodge before two years ago.  He seems to be relegated to the “and others” part of most descriptions. 

Who will be the names remembered from the communities (scientists, artists, musicians) now, and who will become “and others”? It is an exercise in futility to project into the future who will be remembered from the past.  Creating is always an attempt at immortality, and some will succeed.  I want to say that Lodge failed, but even that isn’t really true.  I know about him now, and so do you.  Ask me about his theories and his life, and I will tell you more.  This is what I do for love.

Scent of Travel

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I’ve traveled a fair amount across the states, and kept journals along the way for the most part.  In talking with a friend last night, I realized again how short these journals can come to the real experience.  He used to film a lot of his trips and adventures, putting together edited versions complete with soundtracks. (What I wouldn’t give to see some of those films… but that’s another story…) It was sort of funny to be talking about these records of life, but only in a secondary way.  We couldn’t share my journals or his videos.

Sometimes the remove of text frustrates me.  It’s almost there, but not quite.  The reader has to work to experience what the writer intends.  Sometimes this work is the most exciting part.  It’s give and take.  I lent a friend Forrest Gander’s Torn Awake and we both agreed that they aren’t easy poems.  Still, you want to come back to them, to understand them.  I want to.

Then there is work that text is just incapable of.  I have yet to find a way of recounting a scent accurately.  I can approximate the flood of memory as I turn a corner and run into the scent of my kitchen after returning from vacation, or the strange fruity and heady scent of Teen Spirit that brings me right back into the locker room in 8th grade and all of the awkwardness of adolescence.  I can try to capture the sum of the scent, but I don’t think I can pinpoint exactly what it is.

This morning, riding the escalator towards the first of many gates, it smelled of travel.  There’s something metallic about travel. Weary and coffee stained, even in the morning.  Right now it seems like airports could be anywhere.  The views out the glass windows may change, the artwork along the moving sidewalk may change, but they are essentially the same.  Airports feel surreal- a bit slanted off of how things are outside the walls.  People forced beside each other, everyone shifting and moving and wanting to be Somewhere Else.

Today I can’t help but giggle at it all.  I’m tired and weary, but I keep hearing laughter and I keep hearing the way people hold different words in their mouths.  I am paying attention to accents quite intensely now- rolling the difference between –aught and –ought through my mouth; between Scotland the way I say it and Scotland the way it’s said “properly.”  Is it affecting an accent if I try to mimic the vowels, or is it pronouncing the place correctly?  It’s making me giggle, stumbling over the vowels as though learning to read again.  It’s exhilarating.

Quick Shifts

Tree at Marymoor Park

This morning the sun was almost painful, brilliant against the lake as I ran.  It was like this a few days ago as well, but I was out earlier and the sun seemed more poured against the land than just blazing.  Today, at a later time and higher arc, it was almost too much.  I still have to take pictures along the trail, but I haven’t yet.  Lou had to go to an appointment in Redmond, and she dropped me off at Marymoor Park to wait.  The sun was bright and warm against my back and I found a picnic table beside a park and among the evergreens.  By the time she picked me back up it was the grey of clouds right before rain, and the wind had picked up to cut right through my optimistic skirt. The weather shifts almost instantly here. And I love it, even if I do get caught in the rain or with too many layers on beneath sun.  I’ve been working on Body of Climates with Dave and his friend for a few weeks now, and I wasn’t really sure how much continuous text could be written about the weather.  It was (and is) an experiment, and I think it’s working well.  I don’t find weather to be a banal topic of conversation in the least.  For me, the weather is a way to share the world I’m in with other people.  Some people don’t want to talk about the weather, but it’s around me constantly, and I can’t help but fixate.  One of the advantages of working the admissions desk at the Museum of Flight is the large glass wall that’s to the right of us.  We can watch the weather change and still be protected.  There are still some leaves left on the trees, and when it’s sunny the yellow glows against the dark brown of trunks and soil.  Often there will be sun against the ground and grey clouds in the sky and it reminds me, for some reason, of plunging into a cool pool.  I think I am easily swayed into water so I can find similarities easily, but the contrast of the hills to sky is like that of warm skin and the sudden and pleasurable shock of water surrounding you.  Yesterday the sky was a pale robin’s egg but clouds hung low and around us, turning into downright fog by the evening.  It’s these contrasts and juxtapositions that I love here.  

river near the gates at Marymoor

I wish I could write more, but I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like to be.  I’ve been finishing up Through a Universe Darkly, and I have a bit more incentive to finally get through it because I know someone to lend it to now.  Lots of information about nutrinos and telescopes filled with bleach at the moment, but Bartusiak writes about it better than I can.  I do, however, want to find the engravings that Thomas Wright used to depict the Milky Way as a disk of stars.  The image credit puts says they appear by permission of the Durham University Library, so maybe I can find a way to ILL them.  Photocopies plus a transfer marker would be great fun with my collages.