Thursday, June 23, 2005

Weather: Better than yesterday -- a strong wind is blowing from the west.

Visit: A Tale of Two Movies

Wildlife: A Bald Eagle was hunting over Middle Foy's Lake last evening -- caught a fish, landed on a dead tree stump, and ate his/her meal by the waterside!

Charity Alert: The Animal Rescue Site Goal: 2.7 million bowls of food this month -- keep helping them with a click a day please.

Media Watch: We saw Dancing with the Stars again. This week, Rachel Hunter and Jonathan Roberts were voted off the show -- she did well, in my opinion, but she looked unhappy and nervous most of the time. Soapie star Kelly Monaco and Alec Mazo finally won the judges' collective approval. Joey McIntyre and Ashly DelGrosso started off with a bang-up performance which kept them in the running, I think. John O'Hurley and Charlotte Jorgensen teamed up for a fine samba -- she's a good show dancer, and he did his part while she strutted her stuff.
Monaco and Hunter both suffered through "wardrobe malfunctions" -- Hunter's outfit was too heavy at the back and sometimes sagged below the crest of her gluteus maximi. She and her partner tried their best, but the "moon peeked over the horizon" occasionally, despite their pains. (Unfortunate events attract attention when a person is dressed to attract attention.)
Monaco almost lost her top several times, and she wasn't happy about having to repeatedly cup her breasts on camera to avoid disaster. Alec even had to intervene very quickly once, but he was a gentleman about it, and made no fuss. Her damn costume even kept slipping down while Kelly was speaking after the dance, and she had to tug it back into place. She kept her composure, but I'm sure she would have preferred a break in the videotaping to put it right. Neither lady signed up for a Las Vegas-style skin show.
NBA Playoffs -- There will be a Game 7 for the first time in 11 years. San Antonio is the home team against Detroit, but they're going to have to fight for every point.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Weather: An ugly hazy morning -- couldn't even see the mountains at 8AM. Where did all this dust come from after only three sunny days?

Visit: A Tale of Two Movies

Wildlife: The Canadian Goslings are almost 80% of their parents' size.
Another sad bear story (Condensed from the Daily Interlake):
A bear that ransacked a kitchen in a Whitefish home last week soon after was destroyed by state bear managers, but the bear's death may have renewed interest in reducing local bear conflicts. The bear raided the kitchen on Northwoods Drive on June 15, the day before a meeting had been planned to discuss bear-conflict issues in the Whitefish area.
After attending the meeting and discussing ways of reducing bear problems, state wildlife conflict specialist Eric Wenum found the bear in a culvert trap he had set in the Northwoods Drive area. The bear was immediately killed.
"Any time a bear breaks into an occupied structure, we'll put it down," said Jim Williams, the regional wildlife manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "There's a line we don't want to cross, where there's too much of a risk to human safety." Williams said Wenum was able to match the bear's paws with prints found in and around the kitchen. The 2-year-old, 65-pound female had eaten cinnamon rolls and made a mess getting into a jar of honey.
Wenum said Monday the bear clearly had experience in pursuing edibles in residential areas. "You don't go from zero to breaking into houses overnight...This was a learned behavior. She had probably been doing this type of thing her whole life."
"The lesson that folks should take away from this is that no matter how much fun it is to watch bears, especially if they are in town, is if they get fed they are dead," Williams said. "They almost always end up dead, whether it's us through a management action or if they get hit by a car."
Williams and Wenum said the incident appears to have prompted interest among citizens and city leaders to reduce bear problems in and around Whitefish. Wenum plans to meet with Whitefish Public Works Director John Wilson next week to discuss ways to reduce problems in certain neighborhoods where there has been bear trouble. "Whitefish represents a unique problem because it is surrounded by prime bear habitat, both for black bears and grizzly bears," Wenum said.
Wenum hopes to introduce bear-resistant containers, one neighborhood at a time... "When you've got 50 houses on a street and half have their bird feeders out and half have their garbage containers out, getting new garbage containers doesn't really solve the problem" of attracting bears to the neighborhood, he said.
Last year, there were instances of bears raiding one garbage container after another on certain city streets. This spring, however, has been relatively quiet in terms of bear problems throughout the Flathead, Wenum and Williams said. "It's been quiet because there's been a lot of moisture that's caused good forage production," Wenum said. "Rather than going to town for food, bears have been content to pursue forest foods such as cow parsnip, sedges, grass shoots and glacier lilies, along with deer fawns and elk calves."

Charity Alert: The Animal Rescue Site Goal: 2.7 million bowls of food this month -- keep helping them with a click a day please.

Media Watch: Frankly, my dear, I (shouldn't) give a damn!
I saw some of AFI's 100 Great Lines on ABC last night. I like triva as much as anybody, but that show was mostly just plain TRIVIAL. Buck Henry performed well enough as a commentator, on a show that had about as much substance as tissue paper, but Dennis Miller hogged 'way too much camera time. Miller used to be a comedian, but now he neither tells jokes, nor presents humorous outlooks on anything. If his own roles in movies count as evidence, he can't act either. He's also a miserable announcer -- his stint on Monday Night Football shot a hole in it's ratings that may yet prove fatal. I'll never forgive him for his egotistical intrusion onto one of my favorite TV shows.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Charity Alert: The Animal Rescue Site Goal: 2.7 million bowls of food this month -- help them with a click a day please.

Visit: A Tale of Two Movies

Weather and Wildlife: Monday was actually hot -- almost no clouds in the sky today, and it's warming up fast. A sudden crop of algae blooms sprung up on Middle Foy's Lake to give the baby ducks some obstacles to play with, I guess.

In The Community: The Hockaday asked me to help a patron to set up his EBay auction:
Gary Schildt -- Sculpted Bottles from 1970 & 1976

Media Watch: American Desi -- A Bollywood movie, mostly shot on the East Coast of North America. Not particularly profound, but an enjoyable light comedy about East Indian and American stereotypes, with almost all of it's dialogue in English. (I'm sure there are Indian-language versions too.)
A Summer Book by Tove Jansson (1914-2001) communicated a feeling of place, in this case the Gulf of Finland, that made me feel like I was actually looking around on my own, rather than reading. The feelings of melancholy in it's pages were more stark than they were in Moominpapa at Sea, her children's novel set on a similar island. In the latter book, her Moominmama character escapes from her busy, responsible existence by walking into pictures she has painted on her kitchen walls.
Here's one website about this remarkable artist and writer: TOVE JANSSON grew up in Helsinki as the oldest child of artist Signe Hammarsten Jansson and sculptor Viktor Jansson.
A book review from The Guardian (UK): The Summer Book is a world apart.
Here's some info about a new edition of The Summer Book: The Summer Book -- With A Foreword by Esther Freud (Who writes of her visit to those same Pellinge Islands.)
One more link to a fellow "Blogger" who quotes Jansson's memoir about life on the island: A Step At A Time Monday, May 31, 2004
As a new item in the literary presentations series, I'm publishing a short translated extract from Notes from an Island (Anteckningar från en ö, Schildts, Helsinki, 1996), one of the last books by the Finland-Swedish author Tove Jansson ... For over twenty years the small island of Klovharun, at the outermost tip of the Pellinge archipelago, about 80 kilometres east of Helsinki, the Finnish capital, and some 30 kilometres south of the town of Porvoo, was the summer home of the writer Tove Jansson and the artist Tuulikki Pietilä. This book is an account, by both women, of those years, in which they built a cottage on the island and then lived and worked there for considerable periods of time, away from “civilization” ... The book is written in the style of a memoir with diary entries, and is illustrated with tinted drawings and watercolours by Tuulikki Pietilä ... we begin to understand from within how the world of the Moomins developed, as we follow the author’s deep and intuitive relation to the place and the living creatures that inhabit and frequent it ... the evocation of this world, that is at once very real and concrete and yet also suffused with a strange, muted, almost fairytale-like radiance.
I love stone: the cliff that falls straight into the sea, the rocky hill too steep to climb, the pebble in my pocket, prising stones from the ground and heaving them up and rolling the biggest ones straight down the hill into the sea! Down they rumble, leaving behind an acrid smell of sulphur.
Searching for stones to build with, or simply stones that are beautiful, in order to make mosaics, bastions, terraces, pillars, smoke ovens, or strange, unusable contraptions made just for the sake of it; building jetties that the sea will take away next autumn; building more wisely next time, though the sea will take it all away again.
My father was a sculptor, but Tooti’s was a carpenter, and that’s why she loves working in wood, whether it’s shifting magnificent, heavy planks about or playing with feather-light balsa. In the forest we searched for juniper wood. On the shore we sometimes found strange, hardy species of trees with unfamiliar names. Tooti used them to make small objects that need time and great patience – why not make the smallest salt-spoon that has ever been made?
‘But,’ says Tooti, ‘it’s quite different when you build on a large scale, you have to be resolute and absolutely sure of your ability to measure and calculate and make it all work out to the last centimetre. Or millimetre.
‘Sometimes building is done in order to hold and make steady, and other times it’s in order to decorate: sometimes it’s both.’
Incidentally, Tooti’s engravings are done in pear-wood or beech, her woodcuts mostly in birch.
She would often discuss materials with Albert Gustafsson in his boatshed on Pellinge; they also chatted about boats. He gave her suitable pieces of teak and mahogany to play around with, and Tooti took them all home with her and thought up ideas that were totally new.
It was Albert who made the boat, in 1962, from mahogany, four metres long and clinker-built. It was the most beautiful boat that had ever been seen on that whole stretch of the coast. She was strong and supple, and positively danced on a heavy sea, her name was Victoria, as both Tooti’s father and mine were called Victor.
Gradually, as the summers went by, Victoria became more and more Tooti’s as she was the one who loved the boat most and looked after it with the utmost care.
There are many names for what we call an island: holm, skerry, haru, islet, atoll. The map of Pellinge shows an arc of uninhabited skerries west of Glosholm; they may be connected with a ridge of random formations on the sea bed. Kummelskär is the largest and most beautiful pearl in the necklace.
I was very small when I decided to be the lighthouse keeper on Kummelskär. While it is true that there’s only one lighthouse there, I planned to build a much larger one, an enormous lighthouse that would be able to survey and supervise the whole of the eastern Gulf of Finland – when I was grown-up and rich, of course.
Gradually, my dream of the unattainable changed, and turned into a game with the possible; eventually it was just a cussed obstinacy that refused to give up, until the Fishermen’s Guild made no bones about the matter and said quite simply that it would disturb the salmon, and that was that.
But about two and a half nautical miles from Kummelskär, in towards the coast, there were small islands that no one really knew anything about, and there it was possible to rent land.
Remarkable that such a major and long drawn out disappointment could so quickly be forgotten for a new infatuation, but so it was – almost as soon as we moved in, we felt that we’d discovered paradise. We prettified and ruined with the same high spirits; we had everything, if only in miniature: a little forest with a forest path and moss, a little sandy shore with safety for the boat, even a little marsh with some tufts of cotton grass – we were proud of the island!
And we wanted to be admired, to show off, we lured people there and they came, and came back, summer after summer, more and more of them. Sometimes they would bring a friend with them, or sometimes the loss of a friend, and they would talk and talk about their yearning for the simple, the primitive; and above all, their yearning for solitude.
Gradually the island became filled with people. Tooti and I began to think about moving further out to sea.
We made a half-hearted attempt with Kummelskär, but they said we would disturb the cod.
After Kummelskär come Musblötan, Käringskrevan and Bisaball, small inaccessible skerries where only fishermen and hunters can think of landing, and last in the series Klovharun, i.e. a haru (rocky island) that has split (cloven) in two. That was where we wanted to live.
The island has an area of about six or seven thousand square metres, is shaped like an atoll with a lagoon in the middle, and is surrounded by rocks; at low tide the lagoon becomes a lake.
It is said that at one time seals used the lagoon as a playground; that was before they thought the better of it and moved further out to sea.
On the map, these smaller, almost outcast islands are marked as state property, but that is not true at all.
The fact is that according to certain records, at some time in the eighteenth century, there was once a stormy committee meeting connected with the Land Reform; perhaps the conflict was put on hold because the secretary was prevented from attending the meeting by the icy conditions on the roads, but whatever the truth of the matter the islands were hastily registered as part of the community of Pellinge; ‘an indeterminate population, with no precise details.’
As time passed, the community had grown considerably, and now it seemed it was no longer possible for us to apply for permission to lease land on Haru.
However, like so many other islands with a will of their own, Pellinge had its own prophet whom one could ask for advice on difficult matters concerning the internal affairs of the group of islands. He advised us not to raise our hopes too high and above all not to depend on legal documents that sooner or later might only cause problems – no lease, therefore, but perhaps a small donation to the Fishermen’s Guild. Take it as it comes, he said, put up a list in Söderby for people to enter ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – if I put ‘yes’ everyone else will probably do likewise.
We put up the ‘yes or no’ list on the veranda door of the village shop and everyone put ‘yes’.
We sent the list to Porvoo Council and applied for building permission.
While we waited, we lived on Klovharun in a tent. It rained all the time, Tooti was reading part six of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas.
‘There’s nothing like the classics,’ she said. ‘Read Les Misérables, unabridged, and then you’ll understand the meaning of loyalty.’
I know that Tooti is loyal to what she trusts, even afterwards.
We had pitched our tent too close to the Great Stone, which is so great that it has become a landmark, at least for people who are finding their way more or less from hearsay. The Stone was estimated to weigh approximately fifty tons. It lies in an enormous frog pond in the only place where one could think of building beyond the reach of the sea.
It rained all week, and the frog pond overflowed and trickled past down the hill past our tent and stank horribly. We dreamt of what the cottage would look like. It would have four windows, one in each wall. In the south east we made room for the great storms that rage in across the island, in the east the moon would be able to reflect itself in the lagoon, and in the west there would be a rocky wall with moss and polyps. To the north one had to be able to keep a lookout for anything that might come along, and have time to get used to it.
We thought that if we built a cottage it ought to be quite high up the hill, but not right at the top, as that was the place for the beacon – perhaps just below the brow of the hill, so that the chimney would be visible from the sea. Against the light, in other words, and to those boats that stray past for no reason.
Late one night we heard an engine being turned off down on the shore, and someone with a flashlight came slowly up the hill. He introduced himself. Brunström from Kråkö.
Brunström was out salmon fishing and had been planning to sleep the night in his boat when he saw lights on the island. We made tea on the primus stove.
Brunström is quite small. He has a taut, weather-bitten face and blue eyes, his movements are swift but measured, and he never uses adjectives in his everyday talk. His boat has no name.
We trusted him, immediately.
Brunström had heard about the ‘yes or no’ list. ‘It will never get through, he said, not even in Porvoo where they take life rather easy, take things as they come, as it were. You’ll never get permission to build. The only thing you can do is start building immediately. It’ll take the authorities ages to agree about what they want, and that’s where you have to watch out. The law says that nothing can be demolished if the builder’s got the frame up to the roof-tree. Believe me, said Brunström, I know about these things. I’ve built cabins in next to no time here and there, just in order to annoy people in the neighbourhood – folk from Pernå and Pellinge, for example.’
Brunström went on to explain that he didn’t need very much time, though one never knows with the autumn weather. He’d take Sjöblom with him and perhaps Charlie and Helmer, and before anything else, the Great Stone must be blasted with dynamite.
Brunström says that blasting and basements don’t count as proper building, the house has to have a frame and the frame won’t last the winter without a roof. So there is not much time. ‘Before the snow,’ he says.

Translated by David McDuff

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Wildlife: The families of Redheaded Ducks are showing their patterned plumage as their ducklings grow larger. The similar Canvasback Ducks have red heads too, but plain, white bodies below their necks.

Visit: A Tale of Two Movies

Weather: Saturday started out sporting mostly-sunny skies, but when rain clouds rolled overhead, they poured out streams of water.

Charity Alert: The Animal Rescue Site Goal: 2.7 million bowls of food this month -- help them with another click please.

Garage Sale Booty: We bought a used computer desk and a new front door, transporting them separately in the Honda CV. We also got a copy of U2's first album October on cassette tape for twenty-five cents.

Media Watch; There was a surprise for me on CSPAN -- Betsy Burton was in New York City at "Book Expo America" on June 3, 2005, speaking about her book The King's English -- which happens to be the name of the small, independent bookstore she owns, located at Fifteenth East and Fifteenth South in Salt Lake City -- one of my regular stopping points whenever I needed a shot of culture there.
Her story was about the efforts required to maintain a shop such as hers against the massive intrusion of chain stores and Amazon-Dot-Con on our economy. She spoke about "passion" quite often, and likened her passion for books, reading, authors, and human-scale stores with "the environment," which was an extraordinarily correct analogy. She spoke about how mega-chains drained communities, and how those economic statistics won much-needed support from local politicans in pitched battles between living communities and vacuous strip malls.
Her "King's English" bookstore specializes in poetry and modern literature. While I like and admire these things, my tastes run more towards popular, and even "pulp" culture. I regularly visited Smokey's Records next door, and even took in artwork to the far-corner gallery for framing. While I was there, I patronized Einstein Brothers Bagels across the street too, where I often said HI! to Robert Kleinschmidt, my printmaking instructor from the nearby University of Utah, who hung out in that busy place. I usually only visited the "King's English" for autographed first editions, just ahead of, or right after, a visiting author's visit. For some reason or another, I rarely attended their plentiful readings and receptions.
MY favorite "cultural village" in Salt Lake was centered at the corner of Ninth East and Ninth South -- A.K.A. the 9th & 9th. Salt City CDs had Bill Laswell, George Clinton, and Bootsy Collins' Parliament/Funkadelic classics right on their shelves. The Tower Theater showed movies like Plan 10 From Outer Space, SLC Punk, Orgasmo, and Rocky Horror. There were herbal shops, import stores, a do-it-youself ceramic studio, a quality veggie restaurant, a bakery, a mainstream supermarket, plus the best espresso bar in the Western USA -- the Coffee Garden. Creative people congregated there for many reasons, and it was a fine place to either run errands, hear about new happenings, or enjoy the sights and sounds around you, just as they were.
There were other energetic spots around town -- I liked Greywhale CD's near the University, and the bargain book stores, but I felt uncomfortable around the piecing parlors, fortune-telling booths, and soft-core porn stalls of Sugarhouse, so I rarely stopped off to go to the import stores there, and only if I wanted an unusual gift.
I will mention two other places of interest to me in Salt Lake -- Ken Sanders' Used Books was always good for browsing and conversations. I met the poet Alex Caldiero in Ken's shop, for instance. Kilby Court Gallery was actually a house with a sprawling backyard shop in a rundown industrial slum area near downtown, but I saw some dynamic theater performed there -- including Alex, who is always performing his poems in unusual ways and places.