Archive for July, 2011
Saturday, July 30th, 2011
La Pâtisserie Ladurée / Salut de Paris!
I had to take these pictures while shooting from the hip, because the staff of Ladurée, Fabricant de Douceurs & Gourmandises à Paris were quite insistent that no photography was allowed inside their shop, as it slowed customers down. Well, true that. I take it that the ‘slowing people down’ part is the important one (I hope) and so I took photos without slowing anyone down, and without aiming and focusing properly, resting the camera on the counter and moving along at the pace of everyone else and guessing as best I might as to the angle and composition. I like them well enough for that – though I would have loved to take a properly composed careful photo of all their wonderful pâtisseries and macarons. Oh well.
Photos of églises, la tour Eiffel, les Champs-Élysées, l’obélisque égyptien &c to follow … eventually. For now: Salut de Paris!
Monday, July 25th, 2011
Things behind Doors
Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
the sound rain makes when it falls
I love the sound that rain makes when it falls on leaves, and grass, and brick paths, and asphalt, and when its being blown against windows. I love the wind that drives sheets of rain in front of it, silver grey against grey clouds rushing across the sky, and that pushes and pulls at the cloth of your skirt and your scarf and your jacket. I love the swish-squelch sound boots make when one walks through sodden grass, and the taste of your lunch apple with rain water, and the rain running down your hair and into your collar, cold down your neck and back. There are so many everyday experiences we could have but often don’t, spending our time instead in meetings and below umbrellas and wrapped in raincoats and jackets. There’s a place for all that, too, but sometimes I really love being able to just buck all those separating layers and go out into the rain and wind and wander around campus eating my apple and getting soaked in the process. I would have loved to be out sailing today – I think sailing is at its most intense when there’s a stiff breeze and rain and flying seaspray and the sound of the wind in the sails and of the water against the hull of the boat … .
Still, the post-senate meandering I did around campus was nice, too … you need to give yourself these spaces to breathe and experience and to just feel – both the connection to the elements and the world, and also the emotions that said contact and whatever else is on your mind brings up, and the thoughts and questions that bubble up. (Isn’t time a marvelous thing. Now is now, and in a second now will not be now anymore, but the next second will be now, and so on).
The rain and conversations today left me with a hard to describe kind of fond wistfulness, or maybe a wistful fondness, for things that aren’t and you don’t think will ever be, but where it’s okay if they don’t come to pass, where you kind of wish for shared roads but know they are just wishful thinking (and you don’t know how hard you’re wishing, really) but are truly glad for all the intersections when they happen, maybe? It’s hard to describe. It’s not a bad feeling, but not a bright and shiny one, either. And definitely one that makes you apprechiate the tiny aspects of physical reality more consciously and fully. See the squish-squelch of boots in grassy fields.
Yesterday it was sunny, and my brain bubbled up “On either side the river lie / Long fields of barley and of rye, / …” (&c). It’s a pretty random thing, really, but I am happy to report that I can still recite The Lady of Shalott to the clouds and the sky without too many gaps or pauses.
Oh, enough maudlin omphaloskeptic bla-bla, have a photo of some rocks!
Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Movie: Secretariat (2010)
In a spout of “oh dear, it cost me 715 fricking Euros to have my car fixed today” (talk about OUCH!) and having spent 10+ hours at work plus also rushing around collecting said car and getting home late, I decided to take it easy tonight and settle in for what I expected to be pretty unsurprising movie watching, and poured myself a glass of rosé (it’s a lovely Syrah rosé, very mellow and laid back) and made one of the lactose free frozen pizzas the existence of which I recently discovered (it’s a perfectly average frozen pizza) and decided to put on Secretariat.
Now, the story is familiar, and its a Disney film about a horse, so there aren’t bound to be any surprises … and there weren’t, really. You get exactly what you expect to get. (Except for someone’s below average taste in music, alas.) The movie coasts along, nice and mellow, the drama is expectedly ever so slightly over the top, the camera work on the different races is quite interesting and sometimes innovative … and then along comes the music and totally kills the rest of the movie dead under about a ton of vocals and metaphorical icing, drowning out both the acting and the images (let alone the speech) by being too loud and really rather absolutely unfitting. I mean, what’s going on with the blaringly loud and strangely paced gospels? Is the horse Jesus, is that what you are saying? What’s going on? (That’s what the music in combination with the editing totally makes it look like). I’m sorry, but no. All that music does is jerk you right out of your mellow state of watchfulness into glaring WTF-is-this land, and kill all, all the tension you’re so laboriously building!
Also: the movie has no ending. It just stops at some point, but it does provide zero closure on anything besides the question of whether or not Secretariat will win the Belmont. The tension between numerous different human individuals builds and builds and then chop, climax, endtitles, and you sit there squarely dropped into whuh?-did-I-fall-asleep-for-two-minutes-?-land? No conclusion, no closure, nothing. Very strange. Were they only allowed to make a two hour movie (it’s 118 minutes long) and ran out of time?
So, yeah, while I didn’t expect to love it madly and deeply, I also didn’t expect to mind it, but after watching it I kind of mind it more than I thought I would, unfortunately.
Thursday, July 7th, 2011
Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
Late afternoon today we had what for Flensburg is a torrential summer rainstorm, thunder and lightning included, though at a distance. You could see the dark clouds start moving in at about 4.30pm, so you kind of knew what was coming, and after 5pm it really started to rain, and rained heavily for about twenty minutes or so.
I watched it from my office windows for a bit, and after I’d been to the internal mail room and passed the doors outside I could not resist popping outside for a bit to watch and listen from beneath the shelter of the building overhang. If I was still a student, I totally would have run out into it and just enjoyed getting drenched by warm summer rain, but seeing as I’m on the other side of the fence now … well, better resist temptation. Trade experiences in for respectability, or whatever. Still, it was great. Just standing there and listening to all the different sounds the rain makes as it hits the bricks or the trees or the grass or the puddles … and watching the rings intersect and overlap in the puddles.
Another moment where you wish you’d brought your camera – there was this lovely composition of reddish shrubbery, dark blue-black sky, green-brown grass, brown-black puddle and grey-beige brick road … . From now on, the camera will just live in whatever bag I take along, irrespective of my destination. That’s why I bought a reasonably light-weight camera, after all. So I could take it along pretty much everywhere, without worrying about different lenses &c.
But anyway – the sound of rain – lovely. It’s the little beautiful things you need to watch out for – the big ones will jump you even without you paying too much attention. But the little things one misses out on far too easily.
Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
I think that most everyone has a certain song, or a number of songs, that always (or most always) help them to improve their mood, or that one associates cheerfulness with, or safety, or mellowness, or any number of emotions. (And the same might be true for songs that never fail to make one sad). I know I certainly do have songs that can cheer me up, and today I just want to share one of them with you, rather randomly, and mostly because I’ve been listening to it on repeat on the way home just now.
It’s a comparatively recent find, and I came to it via the nationwide German classical radio station, Klassikradio.de. It was composed by Phil Coulter and is called the Coultergeist. (And if I thought I had more time during the summer, I’d totally learn how to play it on the piano, as it does not sound unmanageable to me. Alas, sheetmusic is nowhere to be found, and I really ought to be doing other things. But anyway, I digress… .)
There are a number of interesting adaptations of the song on youtube, some better than others, but unfortunately none of them comes close to the original. But the internet is wide and varied, and if youtube does not have what you are looking for, some other video portal surely will.
Thus: if you’re so inclined, this way to the Coultergeist.
Monday, July 4th, 2011
spiral me along (june 2001)
A spring of window colours fades
early summer, drawing closer.
Secret anxieties that I spiral along;
that spiral me along; alone.
Yet I would not cede voluntarily
this maelstrom’s horizon.
Chains, if chains these are,
then chains these are of my own forging,
from which unchained my heart cannot be.
Always I’d rather break along with you
than turn my back and leave you to face
the darkness – unknown.
Time too short for giving you less than all I am or can be.
Even all my chips less than you deserve.
A watch for falling stars
my only secret,
A miracle, for you.
How I wish I had one.
But if I am a conjurer of anything at all,
then it’s only one of mundane wor(l)ds,
the stars out of reach.
Sunday, July 3rd, 2011
the Kentucky stoneway
One last photo from the road before we hit Bloomington, IN … .
A week ago I was on a plane, eastward bound. I have no idea what I did a year ago, but I know with great clarity that ten years ago I was on my way to being asleep in the small second bedroom in an aquaintance’s hotel suite in Ulm. Both seem at various times to have been a lot longer ago, and not nearly so long ago at all. Or to have taken place in a completely different reality and time.
Time is (and definitely seems) relative, indeed.
Friday, July 1st, 2011
So, by Monday I was up in Lexington, and mostly over my jetlag (one of my major reasons for flying to the US some days early – a jetlagged academic does not a good conference attendee make, at least in my case), and had a good half-day left to do things in. My plan was to get close to or to Bloomington, IN by nightfall, as the conference that was my reason for being in the States in the first place started after lunch on Tuesday.
So, seeing as I come from a family that currently owns three horses, and that has a professional horse rider in their midst (my sister), I decided that in a region that is not called “horse country” for nothing, I might as well go and look at some horses. And since I was short of time, the Kentucky Horse Park, the “Epicenter of Equestrian Life” (ha!) with its promise of 50 different breeds of horses and lots of information and parades seemed like a good idea. Well … yeah. Some ideas that seem good at the time … really aren’t. I suppose if you’ve never seen a horse in your life its an interesting enough place, but if you have actually spent some time around horses a “horse show” that consists of five horses, each being ridden around a small rink three times by their atrociously clad riders (a princess, a knight, a flamenco dancer, …) and hearing such edifying commentary as “A female horse is called a mare, and a male is a stallion!” … really isn’t all that exciting. Also, their much lauded “mares and foals” show consisted of, uh, two each. Yeah. Right. Buy a plane ticket, come to Marbach.
The most interesting thing I found in the whole place was in a huge deserted stable, and it consisted of a poster that depicted the different carriage types used in Regency England. And their museum was okay. But other than that … well, not so much.
So I decided to spend a lot less time there than I had planned, and since I was both horse-frustrated (not that I usually seek horse related information out, but once I had made the decision to do so, I darn well wanted to see something interesting that was vaguely related to horses), and now had these free hours, and it wasn’t too far out of the way, I drove to Bloomington via Louisville and managed to make it to the Churchill Downs (the race track the Kentucky Derby is held at, and arguably the most famous racetrack in the US) about 90 minutes before they close for the night, and in time to catch a guided tour of the race track, and to spend some time browsing their museum. Suffice to say, here was a great amount of horse-related obscure lore I’d not heard of before, and I was at peace with the day again, and happily drove off to find a motel close to Bloomington where I could do some loads of washing before the conference.
Some further links, where you can see the track itself &c: