“Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.”
J.G. Ballard

Pinstripe on Hood, Car Show, Dallas, Texas

I remember in my youth, swimming in a lake somewhere (little fish kept nibbling at me). I was moving along a dock towards the sandy bit of slope they called a beach. There were some girls up on the dock and I could hear them talking. One said, “Yeah, I know he’s not good lookin’ and I don’t like him at all… but I’m going out with him anyway… he has such a nice car.”

I still remember that and, as I get older, I wonder if she might have been on to something.

The Storm is 400 Miles Away

“People seemed to believe that technology had stripped hurricanes of their power to kill. No hurricane expert endorsed this view.”
― Erik Larson, Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

While 400 miles to the south, Hurricane Harvey brings terror, destruction, and death – here all it has done so far is brushed the sky with its outermost bands and made for a beautiful sunset.

The ponds at the end of my block, Richardson, Texas

The ponds at the end of my block, Richardson, Texas

Skyscraper and Clouds

“What about guns with sensors in the handles that could detect if you were angry, and if you were, they wouldn’t fire, even if you were a police officer?

What about skyscrapers made with moving parts, so they could rearrange themselves when they had to, and even open holes in their middles for planes to fly through?”

― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Downtown Dallas, Texas

Downtown Dallas, Texas

“Aren’t the clouds beautiful? They look like big balls of cotton… I could just lie here all day, and watch them drift by… If you use your imagination, you can see lots of things in the cloud formations… What do you think you see, Linus?”

“Well, those clouds up there look like the map of the British Honduras on the Caribbean… That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor… And that group of clouds over there gives me the impression of the stoning of Stephen… I can see the apostle Paul standing there to one side…”

“Uh huh… That’s very good… What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?”

“Well, I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I changed my mind!”

― Charles M. Schulz, The Complete Peanuts

The Sky

The sky above Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas (click for a larger version on Flickr)

The sky above Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas

(click for a larger version on Flickr)

When I was a little kid, I had a paint-by-number kit… you know, one of those bilious hunks of cheap canvas board with numbered areas printed in blue ink that corresponded with little plastic tubs of oil paint. Now, I imagine they come with some sort of water-based acrylic – safer and easier for children – but this one had real slow-drying artists’ oil paint.

I might have been six years old… maybe seven. Fifty years ago.

I sat at the kitchen table, wielding the cheap brush that came with the kit, carefully cleaning it after each color and moving across the canvas matching the numbers with the proper paint. It amazed me… that I could create an actual work of art (unfortunately, my skills have advanced little since).

It didn’t seem too hard to me to make the leap beyond the preprinted canvas – surely it wouldn’t be that hard to do yourself. I was a little kid, what did I know? Nothing about composition, blending… and nothing about mixing colors.

What I especially remember is the sky above the sailboat. The scene had the boat fighting against a headwind on a dramatic tumbling, mostly overcast day – with the heavens filled with irregular patches of brown, beige, gray, and a little blue peeking through here and there. It was beautiful to me.

Now, whenever I have a sky like that… like this, my subconscious conjures up the by-the-mumbers painting of the sailboat from the distant cobwebby recesses of the past. Before I realize what I am thinking about, weather like this, fills my nose with the unmistakable odor of linseed oil and turpentine. Only then do I pause, look up, and remember the sailboat.

A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.

“Just for the record, the weather today is calm and sunny, but the air is full of bullshit.”

― Chuck Palahniuk, Diary

I have a bit of a bike ride planned for later on this afternoon, but as I drove to the library to return a book due today I saw a huge thunderstorm building in the west. We’ll see. At least this time I had my camera in my car.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

-Mark Twain

I love the rain. I want the feeling of it on my face.

-Katherine Mansfield

I spent yesterday afternoon rebuilding the bottom bracket on my mountain bike. When I went out to test it, the sky opened up before I could get to the end of the block. At least there was a nice evening rainbow.

A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.

-Marcel Proust