dailybell2008: December Journal

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December Journal

Working with free103point9 this month, we received more than 60 audio recordings from all over the world in response to our invitation to observe and record sunrises and sunsets this month. Those recordings replaced the usual documentation this month, and I posted those pieces to two different entries. Sunwatchers Audio Archive is a daily record of what came in from where and whom for the entire month. The EMERGENCY AUDIO RESPONDERS entry is a collection of all the emergency audio responders that came through with recordings for the Solstice. I continued to observe and ring bells at each sunrise and sunset and occasionally collected some media or thoughts of my own. However, for the most part, I invite you to enjoy hearing from others for a change. I know I did!


FYI We rang bells in front of the house (including the big bell in the back of the car) for 19 out of 25 consecutive days. That’s a record.

What follows is the odd collection of media from the entire month. I discontinued the journal and finished off the month with the Solstice Saga and miscellaneous media.

12/1 Sunset. Henry came through again. His sister, Gracie joined him and they both raced down the stairs and ran across the street to ring the big bell. We have to keep an eye on Henry- he just runs right out into the street.

12/2 Sunrise and sunset pieces arrived throughout the day here as the earth moved out of and back into the rays of the sun.

12/3 Another photo at sunrise from my backyard in San Francisco. Same view. Foggier day. This evening we arrived home a few minutes after the sun had set but rang the big bell anyway, just in case anyone wanted to come over and join us. Nobody did, but Mr. Paul from across the street came out and stood in his driveway although I think that was a coincidence. 

12/4 We continue to make an effort to ring the big bell at home as many evenings as possible.

12/5 Getting ready to leave for New York tomorrow. I waited until the last minute to stop working to catch the sunset. It was a minimal observance. Just Norman and I out front ringing the big bell. I like the routine of it. It’s no big deal around here and I like that about it.

12/6 The plane was not very crowded and I had a row to myself. No watch. No cell phone and no animated map in the seatback in front of me. So I had to rely on what I could see out the window and the man who happened to walk down the aisle when I was beginning to wonder what time it was somewhere in the world. It was 6:45 PM in New York and the sun was almost finished. I figured it must be about 4:45 where we were and that would have put us over someplace like Missouri. That’s my best guess. I took a little movie out of the plane window because I liked the moving shadow on the wing of the plane. As soon as I had put the camera back into it’s case and under the seat, I looked back out the window and the wing of the plane was gray. Finished.

12/7 It’s cold here. Too cold to go out first thing in the morning. I almost missed the sunrise because I couldn’t remember where I put the bells after I unpacked last night. After scrambling and stumbling around for a minute, I found two bells lying on the couch. I opened the back door and watched a train roar by, completely overpowering my feeble and stubborn little bells.

12/8 Another morning of placid half asleep clinking towards an empty train rattling by overhead. This evening, I rang a few small bells as I ascended the stairs to the 4th floor on my way to visit my neighbor and her new baby. Mom was waiting to make sure the baby was finished her business before changing her, so the three of us hung out by the changing table. She's a beautiful baby girl, lots of hair and very calm. As I was leaving I rang the little bells for her and she got very still and opened her eyes and smiled. I rang each one by itself to see which was her favorite. She liked the bell with the highest pitch- the tinkliest. So now it’s hers. Maybe her first bell? 

12/9 Bells for the subway in the morning.  Those trains are right on time.
This evening I was in Delhi, NY planning for the Fun Faire which will be at the South Kortright School next April. We were all talking, drinking tea and eating cake when the sun went down, and we missed it by a few minutes. It’s amazing how quickly it gets dark this far north once the sun actually crosses the horizon. The sky was already a deep blue when we noticed and passed the bag of bells around the table. Then we resumed our meeting. The Fun Faire will be held on Friday, 4/3/09. It’s to be a school wide event and hopefully will include all kinds of exhibits, demos and performances. I will present a variety of work to grades 7 – 12 at an assembly tomorrow for inspiration and to give the kids some ideas (and permission) for things they might like to do. Doing what matters and sharing what you do—that’s the theme.

12/10 It’s so fucking cold here – I didn’t want to go outside this morning. So I sat by the window and rang very quietly so I wouldn’t wake Martha or her dog, Simon. Although I forgot that Simon is almost deaf. This evening at sundown, I was driving out in the middle of nowhere here trying to find a place to eat. Anything. I had a piece of toast for breakfast and some gummibears for lunch before my presentation. And that was it.

12/11 The snow on the ground looked very pretty this morning. Also pretty cold. The sun never appeared all day. In fact, it began to sleet and slush. I was on the road in the teeny Toyota Yaris all day. Once I drove over the Catskills, torrential rains replaced the sleet. I almost made it to Connie and Bob’s before the sun set. But not quite. So I rang in the car as I drove deeper and deeper into the grey.

12/12 Connie and Liz stayed in Brooklyn with me overnight and we all got up to ring the bells this morning. It was too cold for me and too noisy to stay outside, so Liz and Connie greeted the day and the subway passengers. Connie also sang - very calmly in the face of all that noise. She and Liz recorded their greeting and we sent it to free103point9 for tomorrow’s daily broadcast.

12/13 It was brisk here today, even in the sunshine. So I just wandered out into the shelter of the back of the building at sunset to see what I could see and to say goodbye to the day. The trains rattled by on the bridge as usual and there was a steady stream of cars passing in both directions. There’s no way to see the sun from there, but it is possible to see some reflections in the windows of a very tall loft building on the other side of the bridge. A somewhat more subtle but prettier indicator is the pink reflection coming off the dome of the bank down the street. I watched the pink fade and checked in with the window across the way and just stood there ringing the bell each time it faded away. Eventually the color faded too.

12/14 My father sings in his Church choir and they performed their Christmas Cantata three times today. The first two times were in their local Churches in Lambertville  (Old Rocks) and Stockton (Stockton Church), NJ. I attended the third performance that was at the assisted living part of the Hunterdon Medical Center. When we first entered the recreation room where the choir was scheduled to sing, my dad looked around and said, “It looks like a good crowd” and there were indeed quite a number of people already assembled. But it wasn’t your ordinary audience. Everyone was seated in wheelchairs and the closer to the time the performance was set to begin, the more people quietly wheeled themselves into the room. The 16-member choir sang really well together- nobody stood out and the blend was perfect. The amount of love and good will in the room was overwhelming at times and I was aware of monitoring my face so it wouldn’t look like it was about to cry. It was that beautiful and humbling. After the concert, Charlotte wanted to go back to her room and lie down so we wandered back there and a little while later, we watched the sun go down from her window.

12/15 Today was the first day of the Sounds Elemental workshop for radio producers co sponsored by AIR and Harvestworks. This is the second one this year, the first was in August. Each workshop has a “theme” – this one is “fire” and the last one was “water”. The themes are handy points of focus. However, the workshops are not “about” either fire or water but are intended to provide immersive and hands on experience with sound. This is the long way of saying what was happening at sunset this evening. Since we were in the middle of the workshop and everyone was intently concentration on their pieces in headphone isolation, I didn’t want to disturb anyone by telling them that the sun was setting. However there were a few people standing around the office and we went out into the hall and stood by a window overlooking the inner courtyard of the building with absolutely no access to the sky. There we stood and rang down the sun on faith alone.

12/16 We turned the corner today- at least as far as the sunset is concerned. The sun continues to rise a minute later each day, but the sunset has finally reversed itself. The sun went down one minute later today than yesterday. Oh happy day. Someone asked if there was someplace we could go to watch the sun go down. “Perhaps the roof?” they suggested. I said maybe from a helicopter. But even that wouldn’t have worked this evening. It had begun to snow. Sparkly. Silently into the slightly lingering daylight.

12/17 I have enjoyed having to interrupt my participation in the workshop to witness the sundown every night this week at Harvestworks. The staff and interns have joined me and even some of the women in the workshop who happen to be taking a bathroom break or making a cell call at that time are suddenly available, too. The biggest window is right by the bathrooms in a short hallway where there are no other doors or offices. So this is where we go to ring the bells. You can hardly see the sky—just a small square of grayish blue- 7 stories above us mirroring the courtyard below. We are holding at 4:29 for three days in a row now—slowly, slowly stretching the end of the day.

12/18 One other person joined me out by the window in the hall across from the bathroom this evening to note the sunset.

12/19 Peeking out the window this morning just so I wouldn’t feel like a total cheater, I dinged the bells thrice and fell right back to sleep. This evening however, there was a natural pause in the class just a few minutes before sunset. We had just finished listening and commenting on somebody’s radio piece when I notice the time. I mentioned that the sun was setting and invited everyone to ring bells with me and we did. It was so nice.

YouTube descriptions:
Sunset. December 28, 2008. Final installment for dailybell2008: We all brought noisemakers to ring down the sun in this final video of the year. Happy New Year everyone! Members of the band in nor particular order are: Zoey Leavons, emcee; Finn Holland, recorder; Jenny Holland, flute; Isaac Narell, flute; Michael Brown, drum: Tom Miller, cowbell. Assorted percussion: Bonnie Holland, Cecilia Holland, Brenda Hutchinson, Carol Kemper, Mia Narell, Jon Patmore- (video, too), Chris Tripoli and Linda Wang.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the project this year. Anyone stumbling on this for the first time, check out the whole year of daily sunrise and sunset observances at-


12/30 Sunset. Encore! This isn’t really much of an encore, more of an after thought. However,  it is actually the last in the series for the year. Norman and I were on our way to a family reunion in Montana when we stopped for the sunrise in the parking lot of this casino. We were near Pocatello, ID and this was just before we resumed out trip and got stopped for speeding.

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