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Archive for the ‘Observation’ Category

Tea Lights

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

I like candles. I like their bright dot of flame, not overwhelming like an exposed lightbulb, but small and flickering, uncertain and alive. They evoke elemental forces, powers that both threaten and comfort.

Large candles bother me. They always seem to demand: consume me. I start to light them out of obligation rather than to create ambiance. I think, "When will this be over?" When the flame is hidden deep inside tall walls of wax, it's hard to tell if there's anything still alive down there.

Give me a tea light or a taper over a pillar or jar candle any day.


Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Seattle is still shining, the towers lit up by sunlight across the Sound. It's dusk here at the apartment, but Seattle has a straight shot to the West, past the Olympics. Our view of the Sound is blocked by the hill. We got engagement photos shot in a park there on Queen Anne Hill as the clouds burst over the Sound. The sheets of rain came closer, and the wind tossed our hair out behind us. It is a beautiful park, looking down at a surprising angle into the heart of downtown, with the Space Needle out in front. Whenever at dusk the city still holds the red glow of sunset I think of that park, and the hidden geography made visible by light.

Mountainous Thoughts

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

One of the great things about our apartment is that we have an excellent view of Mt. Rainier. On clear days it provides a nice backdrop to the skyscrapers. Even on cloudy days we can often see the snowy lower slopes beneath the overcast.

I was wondering to myself why this was possible in Seattle, where Mt. Rainier is in the vicinity of 50 miles away, but not in Portland, where Mt. Hood is a mere 30 miles away. (These are straight line distances estimated using Google Maps.) Rainier is about 3000 feet taller than Hood, but I wouldn't think that would affect the visibility of the slopes. Both cities are at approximately the same elevation.

The only explanation that I can come up with is that since Rainier rises much more quickly out of the surrounding landscape, the clouds have the opportunity to bunch right up against it. In Portland you have foothills for quite a ways, and the clouds bunch up against hills that are much farther away from the mountain. Nice and simple, at least.

Really, I'm not sure. I would like to know, but I wouldn't know who to ask. It could even be that I just have more experience with Mt. Rainier, because of the location of our apartment. So, anyone remember whether the same effect occurs in Portland? Can anyone offer validity to my interpretation, or an alternate explanation?

Panning for Gold

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

I enjoy sifting through old papers. Every year or so I go through my papers and every time I keep about half of the stack. I start with the papers collected since the last winnowing, from which I save maybe one sheet from every twenty. Unwanted papers are recycled or digitized. By the time I reach the papers that are a few years old, I only get rid of one out of twenty.

At the core of the pile the memories are dense. Fond, embarrassing snippets of poetry. Touching letters from friends. Notes from my favorite college classes, and drawings derived from boredom. Plans for world domination, plans for programming projects. Everything has a practical purpose, or else a significant core of meaning.

By the time I'm forty I'll descend through the strata of my life with easy familiarity. I'm looking forward to it, looking back on a trail of papers like memories. The old ones drop away until only the striking, the harrowing, the golden remain.