dailybell: 5/11/08 - 5/18/08

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Ringer at the Ferry Terminal?

5/9 AM Meeting the Baylink driver at the Ferry Terminal
The bus driver for the Baylink was there again and he told me more about the motorized tripod that I could get. It sounds good and isn’t very expensive. I learned that the Baylink runs between Vallejo and San Francisco and during the winter more people ride this bus than take the ferry because the water is rough and people get seasick. For now, the bus is pretty empty. He has only one passenger to bring from San Francisco back to Vallejo. He used to have more- 10 or 20 people- who worked all night in San Francisco, but not anymore. He didn’t say why. As for ringing the bell, he waited to leave until just after I finished and says he will ring it next week. We introduced ourselves today, and his name is Steven. I look forward to seeing him next week.

After Steven left, I began to pack up the bells and another man came over. We said hello and I asked him if he wanted to ring the bell. When he paused, I said I was there regularly to do this and he said he hadn’t seen me before. I said that was because I was following the sunrise and it had finally come early enough for me to run into him. He liked that idea and I told him that by next week, the sunrise would coincide with his shift and that I would bring hearing protection for him if he wanted to ring the bell. He said OK and then rang it a few times anyway. I might have a lot of company next week.

5/12 AM Taking Turns?

After only 3 hours of sleep, I felt bad waking up at 5:00. But I was also excited because the driver from the Baylink bus was expecting me to be there. This is a first. As I approached the driveway where I turn into the parking lot at the Ferry Building, I saw the bus waiting there, but Stephen, the driver, was nowhere to be seen. Usually he stands by the log that I back the trailer hitch into every time I park. It was pretty early, so I set the alarm and took a little nap. That’s when I realized that he might be doing the same. When I woke up, I set up the sign and put out the bells as usual. Still I didn’t see him. So I put the earplugs in and started ringing. When I looked over to the bus, he was standing next to it just listening so I waved him over, and he finished ringing in the sun. I was so excited to have company at that hour and that someone wanted to ring the bell that I just stood there and watched. Next time, I’ll ring along. Yippee! As soon as we finished, Stephen hopped on the bus and drove away. As I was putting things back in the car, I noticed the security man looking out of one of the terminal building doorways.

5/14 AM Was Once Enough?

There was a fancy looking bus at the Ferry Terminal there this morning: all black and covered with that see through advertising. That material is amazing. You can see out of the windows from the inside but from the outside the bus looks like it’s been dipped in black. Anyway, the bus stayed the whole time I was there, and Stephen, the driver, came out after I had finished ringing to say that he enjoyed it. Then he drove off. Hmm… Maybe once was enough?

Thursday, May 15, 2008


May 15
I missed the sunrise by 40 minutes. The alarm was set, but the ringer was OFF. My reaction surprised me. This didn't disappoint me as much as I imagined it could have. Neither did I think the whole project was now ruined. I just made an immediate shift to thinking about this day in particular. May 15th. What else happened on May 15th? In general, this is not an important thing, but in terms of a daily vow, it is. So I am treating the occasion seriously and want to mark it by observing the day and associating with other events that occurred on May 15th. What has happened that you remember that makes May 15th special in some way? Or how about something that this reminds you of? Big things and small? Personal and historical? It makes me realize that there is something more important going on here for me than vigilance and a perfect record.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

First Week of May

This week the Baylink bus has replaced the boat at the Ferry Terminal. And pretty soon this bus won't even be here. I have been going to the Terminal on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at sunrise and have met the driver of the Baylink. He's the only person who has said more than "good morning" to me here so far. He drives the bus away while I am ringing the bell but maybe next week, his departure schedule will allow him some time to spend ringing the bell. On the other mornings, I have stayed at home, and recorded audio only. So there are several audio recordings for your listening pleasure this week. The rest of the time, I merely documented where I was when the sun rose or set. Sad, joyous and mundane.

5/1 AM It’s May Day!
I quietly observed the day in front of my house with an audio recording. I rang 3 little bells as I walked across the street and back. There were a surprising number of people out and about at that time. A few hours later I was looking for the bells from the sunrise ringing and couldn't find them. It turned out that I had left them on the sidewalk next to the telephone pole. Two thoughts immediately: 1-how wonderful people are that saw these lovely little bells and left them where they were and 2- what a sleepy idiot I am at that early hour. I would have felt awful if I lost those bells—One of the bells belonged to Norman’s brother-in-law who is now retired. It had hung over the office door when he was in business, and it’s Norman’s favorite.

We went to a film called “Hollywood Chinese” at the 4-Star Theater with Bernie and Mardi. The movie started at 7:20 so I set my phone to vibrate at a few minutes to 8:00. The 4-Star is a very small theater and several years ago, they made it even smaller by splitting it into a 2-screen theater. It’s my favorite place to see movies—they show at least 6 different films a day and you can stay there all day and watch all of them if you wanted to. The person who sells the tickets, also answers the phone, runs the projectors and makes and sells the popcorn, candy, etc. While the films are running there is a lag and some quiet time for that person and it was during that time that I emerged from the theater to ring the bells. The guy was really sweet and agreed to simply hold a bell up in front of him at his seat by the window since he couldn't really ring it during the show. So I went outside and set the camera on top of the trash can and stood next to the window and rang one of the quiet tinkly bells. I love this photo.

5/2 AM Time out
No ferry building today— I was wiped out. Listen to the audio I recorded in the back.

5/2 PM Bugging People

The neighbors from 2 doors down didn’t want to ring the bells this evening. Fortunately we had a visitor who rang with us. Visitors are one step removed from the captives at the bus stop. But at least your friends have some idea what to expect when they come to visit around sundown. Thanks, Paul.

5/3 AM He Prefers Cat Food
Home again. Norman and I ring for Malcolm. Sometimes I think he doesn’t care about the bells. He just waits for us to finish so we will come in and feed him.

5/3 PM Maker Faire Farewell
Sunset at the Maker Faire was at precisely 8:00 PM. We found a small stage – one of many in the fairgrounds. Three pedaling cyclists powered the PA, and that alone was a good reason to choose that place. Fossil Fool provided the PA and was also the name of one of the bands to perform. When I spoke with the man in charge of Fossil Fool, he said he liked my project and that 8:00 would be a perfect time since that was when he would be performing. There was a band already playing on the stage, and it seemed rather unlikely that any band would stop right on time, but I thought maybe …

Anyway, I came back about 7:45 and the band was still playing- another long song and as it got closer to the time of the sunset and they were still playing I figured we’d better just go with whatever was happening at 8:000. So I went around and passed out bells among the small but happy audience. By some miracle the band stopped playing at about 3 minutes to 8 and I thought wow- what amazing luck. But then they launched into one final number. So we all rang our bells for 5 minutes or so—you could barely hear them over the band but they were there and people were smiling. I collected the bells after the sun went down, while the band was still playing and everyone seemed to have enjoyed the experience. That Maker Faire was a fun day.

5/4 AM Bob's Bell
Audio only out front—I decided to ring Bob’s ship's bell—It’s been great since I discovered that even that fairly loud bell doesn’t carry very far so I can include it in my arsenal of morning bells. Then back to sleep.

5/4 PM Sushi Interrupted

Sally came to visit. She’s been in Miami and will return to Paris where she now lives. We decided to walk down the street and have dinner near our house and we weren’t quite finished eating when it was time for the sunset. So we momentarily left our table at the restaurant to go outside and ring the bells. Thank you, Sally. We miss you.

5/5 PM Bells With Our Beans
Dinner was ready at sundown so we stopped eating for a minute and rang the bells. It was cold and foggy and gray outside and so cozy in the kitchen. I thought an indoor evening ringing might be nice for a change.

5/6 AM Big Pink Guard Dog
Listen to this morning.. We carried the bags and boxes of Ann’s clothes out to the curb at 6:00 this morning. United Cerebral Palsy has a regular schedule for curbside pick up of household goods and clothes. They were scheduled to pick up in our neighborhood sometime today. After we brought all the bags out to the curb, we set a big pink dog on top. It was the saddest heap I ever want to see. Later that morning I had gone out and come back to find the pile still in front of the house but with the pink dog missing. Maybe the little girl next door?

5/6 PM Ocean Beach Sunset (again)
Norman wanted to go down to Ocean Beach this evening. It looked so beautiful and clear outside but it was cold and windy. It usually is in the evening and especially by the ocean. When Norman began ringing the big bell, there was a man in the car next to us that looked over and smiled. I offered him a bell, but he shook his head.

5/7 PM Stretching the Bells
We were running late to go to see “21” at the movies. So it wasn’t until we were halfway there that I realized I had forgotten to bring the bells and any recording device. Fortunately our friend Carl was with us and he had a cell phone that took still photos. The movie had just begun when Norman and I went out to the lobby to observe the sunset. Since I didn’t have any bells, I set the alarm on my cell phone to ring at 8:06 PM. So we took a picture of my ringing phone and followed it up with some jangling keys. Unfortunately, Carl doesn’t know how to send the photos from his phone. And now he’s gone to Venezuela for 3 weeks to attend a wedding. Maybe when he returns… (They’re not that great anyway)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Early Mornings at the Ferry Terminal

5/5 AM No More Ferries. First Bus to Vallejo

There were no boats at the Ferry Terminal this morning. However, there was a bus that I had first noticed as it was pulling away when I arrived there last week. Today it was sitting by the curb when I arrived, and it pulled away as I was setting up. So maybe whoever is on that bus will enjoy the morning ringing. This bus goes to Vallejo, and it leaves about 25 minutes before the ferry from Vallejo arrives. I wonder if there are any scheduled boats or buses that will appear even earlier than this.

5/7 AM A New Ringer?
When I returned to the Ferry Terminal this morning, the Baylink bus driver was standing by the log that I back my car into each morning. We said good morning and he watched as I taped up the sign and took things out of the car. I continued to set up to ring the bell and as I opened the back of the car, he looked inside. When he saw the bell he got a little excited and exclaimed- “Oh an antique bell!” I asked him if he would like to ring it, and he said he had to start the bus. I told him that the sun would rise 2 minutes earlier on Friday and that maybe he could ring it then. He said OK. We’ll see. I’ll get there a little earlier just in case. For the next few minutes, I snapped some pictures before ringing the bell. Just before the driver left, he came back to the car and gave me some pointers for shooting the scene. He recommended some kind of motorized tripod, and I told him he could take the pictures on Friday if he wanted.