dailybell: 7/20/08 - 7/27/08

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fourth Week of July

7/20 AM A Little Help From My Friend...
Another typical summer day dawns in San Francisco- which means- fog. This morning we also had a little extra drizzle. None of that deterred Malcolm who is always so anxious to help supervise any activity (audio).

7/20 PM Trees in Common
It was already pretty dark and dreary outside just before sundown. This, after a long, sunless day. I figured our little tree could use some excitement, so I rang some small bells for it while Norman rang the big one for all the others. I’m running out of ideas for things to do around the house. Our bell ringing has become such standard behavior on our street now, our neighbors take it in stride. It would be even nicer if they would join us sometime instead of just waving to us. But it’s a start.

7/21 AM Naked Ladies on the Way
While walking around the yard (audio) during this morning’s sunrise, I spotted a single naked lady pushing up through the sand. She’s brand new and not yet blooming. Ann had given me a half dozen of those naked lady bulbs several years ago in an effort to help beautify my yard. Those flowers are still the only thing growing out there besides the super aggressive blackberries and the tall grasses that now form the straw mat on the surface of the sand. That one little flower is the first to arrive this year, and will be the first to bloom since Ann died. Hello, Ann and thank you, again.

7/21 PM Coaxing the Ladies
At sundown, we walked back to where the first naked lady has appeared and saw another one just coming up. We just stood there and rang the bells for the flowers.

7/22 AM Hello from the Crow

In terms of the light, time and weather, there’s not much to distinguish this morning from yesterday. However, from time to time, the huge tree that takes root two doors down provides a platform for some local crows. Loud mouth crows. And one of them just happened by this morning at sunrise. He’s hidden deep among the branches, but his voice is plenty audible. You can see that tree from google earth. It’s really big.

7/22 PM Laid Out
This was my first time back at meditation since the accident. During the break, Norman and I went out to the garden and quietly rang the bells. We had placed them on a bench and looking at them like that reminded me of a tiny, old cemetery.

7/23 PM Tintinnare Tom Bickley @ Meridian Gallery
Sunset occurred this evening during the third part of Tom Bickley’s interactive bell exploration and performance of Tintinnare. Tintinnare means “to ring a bell” and that’s what everyone who attended the performance at Meridian Gallery did for almost an hour and a half. In the first section of the piece we were invited to explore a variety of bells, chimes and gongs that had been placed around the gallery. At all times we were asked to ring and listen with care. Next we slowly walked up to the 3rd floor with the bells of our choosing, letting our motion activate them. The sound and movement reminded me of animals, only instead of walking in a line along the ground, we moved vertically through the space. We arrived on the 3rd floor to find the bell sculptures of Bruce Hasson displayed around the space. Once seated among the sculptures, the audience listened as Tom rang a single Japanese bowl gong. As he slowly and steadily played the gong, he captured, multiplied, layered and changed it’s pitch so that it sounded like many different bells- some large: some small. It was during this section of the piece that the sun set. A few minutes later an alarm sounded, and all hell broke loose as everyone rang his or her bells simultaneously. The piece ended with a long slow section where each person sounded their bell every few breaths for as long as Tom struck the gong. By structuring the piece as he did, Tom guided us through a careful exploration and immersive experience with the bells while gently calling our attention to the ways in which bells have been traditionally used. Thank you, Tom, for a really beautiful evening.

7/24 PM No Need to Plug it in
Someone threw out a couple of televisions up the block. They have been sitting on the sidewalk for a few days and nobody wants them. As we walked by we noticed the western sky reflected in one of the dead screens. So we stopped there and rang in front of the abandoned TVs for a few moments.

7/25 PM Why Bother?
We decided to go see the new Batman movie at the last minute. As we slammed the front door and were running down the steps to the car, I realized that I didn’t have bells or a camera with me. Go back or be late? As we sped to the theater, I shook my keys in the truck for a minute or so as the sun was setting. Not that the movie needs any promotion, but if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a link to the trailer.

How Do the Birds Know When to Wake Up?

7/23 AM So Many Birds
Finally some sunshine. And many more birds. I don’t know if there are more birds because of the sun or if there are simply more birds out front than in back. Do some birds sleep in when it’s foggy?

7/24 AM Fog Gets in Their Eyes
Yesterday there were so many birds out front. I wasn’t sure if it was because it was a clear morning for a change or if it was because I was in the front of the house instead of the back. So when I went out the front door this gray morning, I didn’t know what to expect. It seems that when it’s foggy (audio), there are less birds out at sunrise. Period. Front or back. It doesn’t seem to matter. The next test is to see if there are as many of birds in the backyard on a sunny morning as there were yesterday out front. Since this is the summer, I may have to wait a while for the sun to shine again. If the birds sleep in, do they stay up later at night?

7/25 AM The Jury is Still Out
It was not very foggy. Nor was it so clear this morning. Not a good day to advance the experiment. So I recorded (audio) that one bird who is always out back, and except for one little buddy, he seemed to be alone. So who knows? Maybe that little bird, along with the occasional visiting crow is King of the back yard. After recording the sunrise, I went inside to listen and couldn’t find the recording on the disc, so I ran back outside to see if I could re-record. And the soundscape had completely changed. The bird was gone, it was noticeably brighter and the world was a different place. Only minutes later. I did eventually find the recording. I had accidentally recorded over one of the June mornings.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Third Week of July

7/13 AM Sleepy People and Wide Awake Birds
This morning, we walked out front of Norman’s nephew’s house in Philadelphia. The trees around here are so big. Huge, beautiful old trees. And they are full of singing birds. So we quietly joined them (audio) for a few minutes and then went back to sleep.

7/13 PM Gaggle of Geese
It was less than a month ago that my father and I had gone down to this little island along the Delaware River in Lambertville. This time, the gate to the dock had a padlock on it, and we were unable to go down to the river at sunset. We carefully walked along a wall that edged the riverbank and rang for a few minutes in anticipation of the sunset. Just as we were about to leave, some geese who had been standing near us entered the river. So we rang for their little parade.

7/14 AM David and Goliath
Rainy morning in Lambertville, NJ. We’ve seen enough of the playground across the street and the Fire Dept looked pretty good in the rain. So Norman took shelter under a nearby tree, and we greeted the day from there.

7/14 PM
Another 12 hour non-stop flight from the east coast to San Francisco. This time, it was from Philadelphia. Reason? The plane had a gas leak. As we wandered around the airport waiting for the new plane to arrive, we saw the news about this weeks’ New Yorker and all the uproar on the television. At sunset, we paused at one of the empty gate areas that had a TV on in front of the window and accompanied both the sunset and all the hoo-ha.
Since I just got home an hour ago and decided it wasn’t worth going to bed, I am sitting here waiting for the sunrise before going to sleep. The birds started going about 15 minutes ago and the sun is due to come up in another 5. It’s a nice way to view the sunrise from the end of the night for a change.
Here are some links to the commentary about this weeks' New Yorker cover:
Daily Telegraph
NPR Roundtable
FOX News
Seattle pi
Aljazeera English
Huffington Post

7/15 AM
OK! I have greeted the morning (audio). It seems very dark today. Plus I haven’t figured out this new camera. It makes everything look dark. I was pretty foggy myself this morning and am going to bed now.

7/15 PM
It is dark outside. Something is wrong with the light. The aftermath of the fires? It’s just too dark too soon. Not stormy- it’s very still. Not foggy, either. It is simply not light enough just before the sunrise or sunset. It feels ominous.
When I was in Philadelphia, I smelled smoke and I wondered if it could travel that far. Here’s a link to someone in New York who wondered the same thing.Also the light was not right there either. The sky was hazy and the sun bathed the ground in a beautifully warm orange light. It looked like the light just before sundown when the sun is very low on the horizon. The light on the east coast was beginning to look like the light looked out here in the Bay area soon after the fires started. For the last few weeks, depending on the weather patterns, it’s been either gray or orange. But now it’s simply dark.
Here are some recent satellite images of the spreading smoke and a photo of the sky in Vancouver (less than 800 miles from San Francisco).

7/16 AM Ding Ding Ding Went the Trolley
Foggy and cold, as usual. When I woke up, I heard that one very loud, persistent bird out in the back. But by the time I got out there, he had flown off a ways and was much quieter. Norman was afraid to come out because Malcolm would run off, so he opened the door wide enough to stick his wrist through. And that’s how we greeted the morning (audio). Even the streetcar chimed in today.

7/16 PM Blessing Dead Fish
Today was Amir’s first day here. He arrived from India yesterday and slept for almost 20 hours. He’s surprised at how cold it is here. So we lent him a coat and hoodie and little cap to wear. This evening when we went out back to ring the bells, I invited him to join us. Unfortunately, he still feels obligated to accommodate us so he came outside despite being too cold. I would like to know if they ring bells in the mornings and evenings in the town where he comes from.

7/17 AM At Least I Don't Bite
Please excuse me for the lazy (yet intimate) sunrise observance from the bed. After taking some powerful meds before going to sleep last night, I was very groggy this morning. I wasn’t the only one- Malcolm did not like to be woken up so early and he let me know how he felt.

7/17 PM Changing the Cones on the Bridge
Norman, Amir and I walked onto the Golden Gate Bridge at sundown just in time for the lane changing truck to drive by. I chose to stop at this spot on the bridge because I love the sound the cars make when they drive over the joint in the roadway. It reminds me of people talking and complaining. We nabbed a tourist and rang bells amidst the wind, traffic and nattering tires.

7/18 AM Fog Dots
Those are fog dots on the lens. This heavy fog didn’t phase that one, lonely loud little bird who reports for singing duty (audio) every morning right on time.

7/18 PM Music Minus All

Amir and I walked down to the beach and arrived just in time to see the last smear of red vanish into the waiting bank of fog. It’s generally so windy down there that I’m not going to even try to record the sound. Imagine the sound of waves constantly rolling towards the shore. Now turn up the volume on that before you add the sound of the wind blowing so hard you have to yell to be heard. Into this mix we rang our tiniest bells.

7/19 AM Tree Holes at Sunrise
After two years, we are finally getting a tree in front of our house. To commemorate the occasion, I included the waiting holes in the sidewalk in this morning’s sunrise observance. It’s too bad the woman running for the streetcar couldn’t just zoom down on her way past the almost trees.

7/19 PM Baby Trees!
The trees are in! Five of them on our block. Thank you Friends of the Urban Forest. It sounds like it’s a good thing we planted those trees considering how hard the guy with saw is working to cut up those lucky few trees that didn’t burn in the fires.