Monday, February 1, 2010

smoke gets in the eyes

I'm in the midst of marking so I haven't much time to post. I thought I would share with you 2 photos I took this morning. Each morning, I climb the stairs to the 3rd floor of this old Victorian-style house I live in, to get Sydney, our love bird, from her upstairs sleeping cage. Yes, although an African bird by species, she's a North American bird by culture, as we've put her in the midst of consumer culture: she has 3 cages. One upstairs for sleeping (bedtime is 8:30 pm sharp), one on the main floor where she socializes and spends her day (she loves listening to music, particularly accordion and flute), and one wooden summertime cage which I hang off a tree outside during warm days so Sydney can talk with the outdoor birds.

Anyway, the window in the front half of the 3rd floor faces Lake Superior, faces the rising sun, which you can see beginning its ascent. The sky was spectacular this morning, with a huge thunderbird wing spanning the sky, as if attached to Nanabijou (The Sleeping Giant), a peninsula that protects Thunder Bay harbour. First I tried to get a photo without the chimney stacks, but there was no way. The smoke kept getting in the way, no matter what angle I tried. I gave up. May as well let the smoke get in my camera's eye, it is impossible to remove the technology, the mark of humans on the skyscape. The neighbours' chimneys are puffing out smoke, showing that their furnaces too are working overtime to keep the house warm. Another frigid day.
With the bird on my shoulder I came downstairs to the main floor to start my day. Each night I draw the curtains in the front window to keep the heat in as old windows let out heat once there is no sun, and each morning I draw the curtains open. I sewed dark brown velvet curtains just for this purpose, to help keep this 100+ year old house warm in winter. This morning the sun that was so brilliantly beginning its golden ascent, glowed through the fabric, outlining the row of brass knickknacks that I have received as gifts from various people returning from the Middle East. This morning a small brass urn spoke.

The intrusion of consumer culture. Can we escape it? Get it out of the picture? Watch right to the end.


marja-leena said...

What an amazing morning gift you received! I love mornings like that, especially in the winter. And what a hilarious video, a great find!

Merche Pallarés said...

This lovebird of yours is quite domesticated I see... How do you do it? Is it a parrot? Just curious 'cause I'm about to retire and besides having a dog, perhaps I'll have a bird also... it sounds very civilized, flying from one floor to the, my... Hugs, M.

Merche Pallarés said...

Just saw the video. Had a great laugh! Hugs again, M.

tasteofbeirut said...

This video reminded me of a sentence in one of my favorite books ("Les Horreurs de l'Amour" by Jean Dutour); in the book Jean Dutour says " I will laugh all the way to the grave!"
I see her singing as her universe is crumbling around her as the perfect illustration of what he meant!
My grandfather had a bird that would come and eat from his tongue (he would stretch his tongue and feed him) He was an eccentric businessman .

northshorewoman said...

ML, yes, the old b&w video clip is priceless on a number of levels; I thought the commercials that were left in at the end--not deleted out--allow for a broader understanding of American culture at the time.

MP, yes a lovebird is a small parrot. An absolute joy, but then my middle son trained it by hand to be a loving bird. I've heard of lovebirds that never get out of their cage and bite their owners. Something wrong there. I highly recommend lovebirds. But be prepared for a in personality...They have their own minds, these little flying creatures.

taste of B, does that book title translate to The Horrors of Love? ..oh, horrors! the exerpt does fit. Judy Garland most likely laughed and sung her way to the grave. In her real life, outside of the iconic illusion created of her, she was also a conflicted soul and there were plenty of tears on her march to the grave.

I think your grandfather had a special way with birds, it seems. One needs to win their trust. Of course, there is a whole long tradition of caring for birds in the history of the ME/Arab world. The book of the Language of Birds I'm sure was a familiar part of your grandfather's legacy.