dailybell: 6/29/08 - 7/6/08

Monday, June 30, 2008

Accidents Will Happen

6/30 8:36 PM (again), San Francisco,
The sun is back! Patches of clear blue sky appeared this afternoon and the air smells better. Unfortunately, no light gets into the room in the ER where they perform CT scans. Which is where I was at exactly the time the sun was going down. Fortunately, Norman was my emissary, and he was the witness and bell ringer this evening. If I had had the presence of mind, I would have kept a little bell with me and would have rung it on the way to the CT scan. However, I did think of it afterwards and shook the handful of my jewelry that the technician had asked me to remove for the X-ray. (I’m OK. Details later).

"Where's Waldo's Bell?"

This has been a pretty solitary week- staying close to home.

One thing I have been trying out this week is a new approach to the audio recordings. Because it’s no longer necessary to perform or document each bell ringing observation as if it was the only occurrence, I don’t feel I need to start, ring and stop just as the sun is rising or setting. The primary reason for doing this is not so much to go out and ring bells, as it is to practice and spread the awareness of our relationship to something ineffable- like the movement of the sun. If this is so, then why not focus more on the uniqueness of each moment, each occasion. So that’s what I tried out this week. Instead of focusing on the bells, I’ve taken more of a “Where’s Waldo?” approach to their presence in the recordings. Find the bells if and when you can, locate them in the space by listening to how they sound in relation to the other sounds. Maybe this approach will lead to a greater appreciation about what is unique and special about each event. As the midpoint of the project approaches, I have been reflecting on how it’s going, what I’ve observed and where it might go from here. I had planned to go into some detail about that this week. And then suddenly, I was in a minor car accident. Norman and I are both OK, but I am not up to speed. Not even close. I am not able to drive, so that puts a new wrinkle into my ability to go further afield in search of new and varied situations. For the moment. Also, since day # 183 is the actual midpoint of the year, and it occurs on July 1st, I will wait until next week to go into more details about my thoughts and plans for what comes next.

California on Fire.

Sunrise Recordings. You can see the progression of the fires in the morning photos this week as the smoke gets more and more dense with each passing day. You will notice that I didn't catch on right away that the dark and foggy mornings were a direct result of the smoke from the fires.

6/23 5:49 AM, San Francisco
So foggy. So normal for the summer. All the streetlights were still on. Without the sunlight, they were the only points of light. Sunrise is LATER today than yesterday. woo hoo! Have a listen.

The bells don’t have to figure so prominently in the documentation anymore. Enough already. Since we have been listening to the mornings for a while now, let’s just listen to the mornings. I’ll set the recorder up somewhere and leave it in place while I move around the area with the bells. I am curious about how the bells sound from far away. I’d like to know which sounds carry the farthest and how the bells mix into the morning soundscape when they don’t figure so prominently.

6/25 5:49 AM, San Francisco
I set up the audio recorder outside kitchen door in the airshaft between the buildings and then walked around ringing the ship’s bell indoors. This is the last morning the sun will rise at 5:49 AM. Tomorrow we shave another minute off the morning light.

6/26 5:50 AM, San Francisco. Hazy Mornings From Distant Fires
As I walked away from the house this morning towards the south, one of the streetlights went out. It’s extra hazy these days because of the fires in Southern California

6/27 AM California Burning. Covers Solstice Sun
Foghorns dominated the sound this morning – more so than usual. The smoke from the fires has thoroughly mixed in with the fog and there is no direct sunlight. A whiteout. It looks about the same as the sunset last night. Same color and amount of light… The biggest clue to which way the sun is headed is the streetlights. Do they come on or turn off?

6/28 AM Smoke and Flame
So smoky. If you take a deep breath, there’s a good chance you will cough it out. And that’s the “good” air near the ocean. You can’t even smell the smoke anymore, but it will make your eyes itch and water. It’s even worse across the bay and that’s not very far. The smoke doesn't seem to affect the sound very much. Birds get up, papers get delivered and the streetcar runs pretty much on time.

6/29 AM We Haven't See the Sun In Days

More than 100 thousand acres have burned so far. The air quality is bad. Hard to breathe. And we here in San Francisco are the fortunate ones.

6/30 AM Too Excited

In my excitement of approaching the halfway point in this project, I jumped the gun. I thought today was the day, but upon closer (any) calculation I realized that because of the leap day in February, the 183rd day is half a year. And that's tomorrow. I am actually glad that I made a mistake, because now I have a second chance to do something special to mark the occasion. Consider this ringing a preliminary...


6/23 8:36 PM, San Francisco No Cows on the Boulevard
Still foggy. We headed out to the corner with all of the cowbells and walked toward the so aptly named, Sunset Blvd.

6/24 8:36 PM (again) San Francisco, Stop! Thief!
Someone came into the Church during our meditation and stole a woman’s bag and jacket. When it was time to leave, people offered the woman something warm to wear and a ride home.

6/25 8:36 PM (again) San Francisco, Can You Hear Me Now?
The sky was such a fuzzy pink this evening. I don’t remember ever seeing it like that before. There are 800 fires burning in California right now. The most in recorded history at any one time. So while Norman strolled down to the corner with his chimes, I took pictures of the sky.

6/26 8:36 PM (again) San Francisco, 800 Fires
I trailed behind Norman and Carl as we walked down the street towards the ocean. The sun was just a little orange ball in the sky today. You could look right at it with your bare eye. The smoke from the fires mixes in with the fog to produce a heavily filtered muted light all day long. But come sunset, it was just as grey as the morning.

6/27 8:36 PM, San Francisco 500 Fires
We walked down toward the beach this evening at sunset. The air is so smoky now it’s hard to breathe. And we are 100’s of miles from the big fires. Here’s a map of the fires at the moment. They are all over the state. The sky is a uniform grey all day now with wisps of smoke laden fog blowing up the streets. Mid-day was a light grey and both the sunrise and sunset were a darker shade of grey. Just to get some idea of the number of fires- here’s a map showing the location of fires as of today.

6/28 8:36 PM (again) San Francisco, Intermission for the Sunset
Norman and I went to hear Pamela Z's new piece, Pendulum. Despite technical difficulties, Pamela is an incredible performer, and it was a wonderful evening. Unfortunately, I had to step out in the middle of one piece to catch the sunset. When I returned, Pamela was playing the piece Syrinx, where she recreates birdcalls with her voice. By slowing down actual bird song and learning it in her range at human speed, Pamela could then speed her voice up into the bird range and we humans certainly couldn't hear the difference. I wonder about the birds? Would they answer back or just be a little confused?

6/29 8:36 PM (again), San Francisco
This evening, Norman’s longtime friend Victor came to visit us on the way back to North Carolina. This is the end of Victor’s annual visit to his family in Sacramento and he stopped by on his way to the airport- just in time for the sunset. Thank you, Victor.