January 8th, 2005

laszlo moholy-nagy_chx

A Palpable Chill

I've only been awake for less than 14 hours, so it's going to be difficult to sleep. If I leave the windows open a bit longer, though, it might get cold enough in here that I will pass out from hypothermia. Yeah, that'll work.

There are some programs I'd like to install on Sluggo that require Microsoft's .NET package, which I don't have. I checked the update site tonight, and it turns out that the download would take two hours, according to their estimate. Their estimates are usually too short, so I'd figure on three hours, at least. Crap. I don't think the Slug would be able to handle that, even in this icy weather. I also need something called (by the web site offering another piece of software I want to install) Service Pack 6A (which I think means IE 6 Service Pack 1), and that would take more than another hour. I hate being on dial-up.

No rain fell again tonight, but the unbroken mass of clouds concealed both moon and stars. The rain is predicted to continue through Monday, at least. It's a traffic jam of storm clouds! I may never see the sunlight again! At this point, a bit of fog would make a nice change, but I don't think we'll get any.

Did some reading tonight, about Lotta Crabtree, at a web site devoted to San Francisco history. She spent most of her childhood in the mining town of Grass Valley, a few dozen miles south of Paradise (as the crow flies), but her later years took her to places far more glamorous. What a remarkable character she was. The links from that page lead to information about her that I'd never heard before, the most interesting bit being that the remnants of her once considerable fortune are today, about 80 years after her death, held by a foundation which provides loans to New England farmers.

I will try to sleep now, though I'm still not tired.
laszlo moholy-nagy_chx


Unbroken gray slate roofs the fields and woods, the sodden town enduring the slow and steady drizzle hour upon hour. Then there is the slightest stirring of the air, and the last leaves clinging to the mulberry tree flutter and shiver, as though suffering a premonition of their impending doom. The rhythm of the spattering raindrops quickens, grows louder. Quick bursts fall, and the rooftops resound, the rain gutters fill, the downspouts gurgle and are soon engorged. Suddenly, the air is dense, a watery curtain gleaming with pale light, closing the distant view, narrowing the world. Sheets of water flow down the roof, the overflowing gutters spill small waterfalls into the flower beds, flattening the soft sourgrass, bending the resilient branches of the camellia bushes. All sound but that of falling water is obscured by the relentless rush.

Then the noise grows sharper. Small hailstones begin to fall. Rising wind sends them pinging and clattering against the windowpanes. Flashes of lightning strobe and reveal the hail bouncing on the ground, and the din of their fall is suddenly made to seem gentle by the following crack of thunder. The furious downpour gives way to furious hailstorm, concussions of thunder falling on the cloud-darkened street, the sharp cracks and throaty booms rolling over the shuddering house, rattling the window sash, echoing across the bare orchard and windblown woods and rapidly whitening fields. Through the cacophony, there is the furious screeching of surprised blue jays.

Soon, all the pavements are uniform with a pristine coat of white, and only a few spiky blades of brown, cold-seared grass poke through the rough, pale blanket that covers the lawn. The storm remains intense for no more than a few minutes, then moves off, the flashes of lightning dimmed, the peals of thunder muted to a distant purr. Its aftermath is this chill but placid scene into which small birds emerge, with fluttering wings and shy chirps, from the bushes in which they have lately taken refuge. They alight on a mulberry branch, making all the bright drops of water which hang from it quiver with the fading light. Until the first car struggles up the icy street, marking the smooth surface with bare asphalt tracks, boardered by dark slush, the world is suspended like those water drops, hanging in the diffused light of a hidden sunset.