Lewis’ Blog

30 March 2010

Of mice, people, oranges, and of love

Filed under: animals, plants, self — Tags: — lewis @ 9:59 pm

While I’m posting old things, here is another from my notebook, also written last year.

I hold an orange, ruby light of the sky refracts through it.  My hands, articulate, separate sections off the orange and bring them to my mouth, the mind comprehending all, trying to articulate in turn this experience (never rest!)

A tree has made this orange, crafted it, constructed it to be sweet and delicate, protected in its leathery shell, like a secret whose sweet solution I have learned from my ancestors.  But the tree makes this fruit.  It is a creator which inherited this task from its ancestors, and each fruit contains seeds, which may continue the tree’s line.

It makes the fruit out of habit — no longer are the fruits harvested in the wild and the seeds spread by careless rodentia.  The tree’s family succeeds not by attracting rodents but by contract with humans, who will continue the persistence of this tree’s family as long as it pleases them to eat their fruit.

As the mouse gathers the nut and stores it for food and procreation of the nut’s species — as this is advantageous for mouse and nut, so it is advantageous for us to take to each other.  To find and be found, pluck and be plucked, to keep home together, for pleasure and to pass our seed.  The human procreative relationship is reciprocal, and warm, creating a mutually beneficial situation that is the bosom of our children.  Thus is love arisen, does it emerge from this earth.

Davis in April

Filed under: Davis, clouds, nature, plants, self, stars — Tags: — lewis @ 9:46 pm

It being nearly April again, I thought I’d post something I wrote last April that I just found in my notebook.

In Davis in April in this dry valley almost too big to be called a valley created by an inland sea flooded year after year by the Sacramento River by the American River by the Yuba River by Putah Creek the soil enriched over the centuries by silt these carried from the high mountains of the Sierra from the crumbling mountains of the coastal range from the hilly unknown lands to the north, in this dry valley I sit, and breathe.

I breathe the rich dry eair of Yolo County, full like soil of decaying plant matter of dung of carcasses, all these returned to dust and settled into soil, and sometimes blown in gusts to enrich this air.  I sit on a lawn a large and well-kempt lawn of the university which nevertheless is populated by a large variety of weeds, is strewn with oak leaves like the innumerable stars that can be seen from mountain-tops.  In a season these leaves will be dust and soil and compost, their ancient life force slowly absorbed by the roots of plants.

I sit under a cork-oak whose leaves are falling (it may be sick) and who provides me with a delicious shade on this warm April day, mixed deliciously with patches of sunshine.  The clouds too conspire to bring my life these ingredients, lazy flocks of cumulus humilis slowly floating eastwards from the sea perhaps to bring the high Sierras another dusting of snow.  It has been a dry Winter but not utterly devoid of water, and the reservoirs are middling full.  Spring has come unhindered, and Davis is full of butterflies now though bees are few this year.

I love this air that smells of compost.  I love to walk in the sun and in the shade in Davis in the springtime.  I love the university with its many workers and many students, and its many seekers of truth, or money.  Out of this good soil has been cultivated a great campus of learning and employ, by the grace of God.  Here has sprung up a community of people around the campus, and the old Davis needs all this too to survive — we all must love each other truly here in this earth, while we breathe the rich air, while we walk in the sun-soaked pathways of the university at Davis.

4 September 2009

stars etc.

Filed under: stars — Tags: — lewis @ 11:55 pm

Tonight the moon was full, and it was too bright to view through a telescope.  We got the moon right in the middle of the view, but it was so bright it made our eyes ache.  You could see it projected brightly onto the other person’s eye when they were looking.  Not a good night to look at the moon.

So we pointed the telescope at other objects in the night sky.  We looked at Jupiter again and its four visible moons.  They change configuration every night.  We looked at Arcturus setting in the west, and some other stars in the southwest.  I haven’t learned too many star names yet.

One name that I have learned is Vega.  I spent a good long time looking at Vega.  It was almost directly overhead, so the telescope was oriented such that I could sit comfortably on the ground.  I had pointed my telescope at a few different stars whose names I did not know, but when I got to Vega my attention was fixed.  Its light is particularly beautiful.  It is a clear, crystalline, watery light.  Lots of bright blue and purple.  I’m sure I’ll get to know lots of stars as I spend more time with this telescope but it’s going to be difficult to find one more beautiful than Vega.

7 June 2009

Filed under: learning, linguistics, music, nature, self — Tags: — lewis @ 9:37 pm

I know I will never understand language
I know I will never understand music
I know I will never understand birdsong
I can’t help thinking
It’s still worth listening

4 January 2009

last of the holiday gatherings

Filed under: clouds, gatherings, learning, linguistics, music, self — Tags: , — lewis @ 1:31 am

Just returned from the last of the annual holiday family gatherings, and now it feels like this winter break is at an end.  Tomorrow will be a nice coda — a farewell dinner with my sister, and then off to school again.

Hoping this next quarter will go well.  Both Laurie and I are embarking on schedules that look pretty intense from the outside.  We’ll see how the intensity looks from the inside, but certainly with a booked weekend schedule in January we will be keeping quite busy.  Hopefully Boo will quit biting Laurie.  This has been doing nothing for household morale.

I didn’t get all the reading done that I’d wanted to over the break, but I did do some reading that I wasn’t expecting to, so all in all I’ve had a good break on that front.  Notably I finally finished the Cloudspotter’s Guide, which I highly recommend.  I think I have always appreciated the beauty of a good cloudscape, but the depth of my appreciation has surely increased after reading the Cloudspotter’s Guide.  Just having someone articulate some new ideas to think about with regards to a subject (in this case clouds) gives one more to think about when confronted with it, and Pretor-Pinney does this in such a way that the esthetic experience is not disrupted but strengthened.  A fun read too.

Bought textbooks yesterday.  One of my classes is doing the old buy-the-professor’s-latest-book trick, which is hopefully more organically related to the structure of the class than it is circularly profitable for said professor.

But seriously, why haven’t I mentioned the latest addition to our musical instrument menagerie, which surely is a most blogworthy event.  It’s not every winter break that a man is lent a newly refurbished, gold-colored, cat-scaring-the-crap-out-of, Italian accordion.  I am far from understanding how this machine works, specifically with regards to the approximately two hundred buttons on the left side, which when individually depressed result in the sounding of various harmonies.  Some buttons produce the same harmonies as others, but mostly different buttons produce different harmonies.  The pressing of some buttons results in other buttons also going down as if pressed, in which case sometimes these latter buttons will have a like effect on the former buttons when they are pressed, but not always.  In a fair number of cases there is a relationship similar to dominant-tonic between vertically adjacent buttons, but not in all.  It is my personal project to make a map of these buttons over the next quarter, without consulting an expert or any reference material.  I feel that this project will often come as a welcome change from studying language and the philosophy thereof.  It is a sub-project of this project that I learn how to play Monk’s Dream on the accordion, chords and melody.  It seems like the accordion is begging to play this song for some reason.  Anyway, thank you Ben for the excellent gift.  I promise to put it to good use.

But now it’s getting late and I am tired, and it is time to expel from my system some of the coffee that’s been making me slightly grumpy all day.  Good night.

22 September 2007

a feed, and a bat

Filed under: animals, nature — Tags: — lewis @ 12:00 pm

Two interesting if somewhat disjunct events:

I’ve successfully made an rss feed for this blog, which you can find here. Much perl under the bridge for that… [ADDENDUM: This post pointed to an old, now dead feed. The new feed, which Wordpress and not I have created, is here, though probably the new-fangled contraption of your choice can already tell you that.]

A bat is attempting to take up residence in our stairwell. Just one bat. We were coming home last night and he flew right out over Laurie’s head. Very exciting…

He was there again this morning, but we scared him closing the door. It’s probably better if he stays away, since it wouldn’t be the most restful of bat caves, though otherwise it’s a pretty good environment. Warm and full of bugs. Delicious bugs.

He hasn’t come back since this morning, and I’m kinda hoping he’s found a better place to live. But if we see him again I’ll try to get a picture for the blog. The blog that has a feed!

The promised posts about cat and typewriter are on their way. Until then, friends, adieu.

21 August 2007

Melaleuca linariifolia

Filed under: nature, plants — Tags: — lewis @ 12:00 pm

We found out today that the spongy-barked trees that grow around here are Melaleuca linariifolia, aka flaxleaf paperbark, and are native to Australia. It is a strange tree.

Its fluffy canopy is composed of little lumpy segments, each of which blooms differentially from neighboring segments. The result of this, visually, is that sections of the tree periodically appear to have been replaced by large heads of cauliflower.

Another interesting aspect of this tree is its bark, which is spongy, as previously suggested. It is similar to the bark of a cork tree, except that the Melaleuca’s bark is made of layers of flakes. I think the Encyclopedia of Stanford Trees, Shrubs and Vines puts it best: the flaxleaf paperbark’s bark is “composed of sheets of thin ‘paper’ interleaved with thin sheets of a spongerubbery substance.” Some Stanford horticulture student has been reading Joyce.

Our street has quite a few of these trees, and they bring us much joy with their spongerubberiness. They are now less of a mystery, but shall continue to be a curious tourist attraction. That must be why we get so many tourists. And blog readers. Right guys?

4 March 2007

a walk around the neighborhood

Filed under: history, nature, plants — Tags: — lewis @ 12:00 pm

I took a nice walk today and thoght I could start things off here by posting pictures of said walk. I live in a normally old neighborhood (but a goodun) in El Cerrito, CA. It’s an old trolley car suburb from the earlier part of the 20th century, apparently. For those who enjoy the histories of amusing little towns, there’s a little collection of El Cerrito history narratives here.

The California poppies are beginning to bloom here, which is always nice to see.

And a phenomenon I’ve never seen so much of before — oxalis everywhere! They’re in practically every garden. Nice purdy little flowers.

And now we come to Hillside Natural Area. It’s a fairly extensive tract of land — 80 acres of eucalyptus groves and oak groves, interspersed with open grassy areas. It’s all rather steep, which makes for good exercise and excellent views.

There’s the Golden Gate, for instance. We live in the residential bit in the foreground. You can see our place if you know what you’re looking for.

And there’s Mt. Tamalpais, with Richmond in the foreground. Notice also the fuzzy thistle thing on the bottom right.

Here’s a closeup of another one. Those blooms are fist-sized! Very impressive.

And speaking of impressive, here’s an old granddaddy of a eucalyptus. He’s been around the block. Or he would have if trees could walk. And if he lived on a block. He hasn’t been around the block, but he might have been, and things would have been different then, that’s for sure. Right little lily thing?

You betcha.

Well we’ve descended into madness here, and it’s just about time to wrap things up.

So there’s the end of my walk — home sweet home.

Soon perhaps I’ll post about the various goings-on inside this home of ours, perhaps including a chronicle of the restoration of my very own Remington Model 1 typewriter. Or perhaps a character study of my strange and loud cat. So many bloggy possibilities! I know you can’t wait.

In the mean time, have an excellent day. In fact, have an excellent series of days, for knowing me I will not be posting often.

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