It seems as though I spend a great deal of time these days looking up: for clouds, signs of rain, tokens of impending change. But I'm tired of writing about the weather. It rained last Friday, providing a steady, sweet, cool respite from the heat that lasted for about an hour. The temperature fell to a balmy 103 F in the days that followed, and it should only get up to 101 today, according to the weather sources that have been wrong more often than not. From now on I'm only going to rely on the approaching equinox to signal change.
But not thinking about the weather leaves mental space for worrying about civilization and its discontents: war, famine, politics, economics, environment, health, education--with all their creeping dystopian possibilities.
So lately I've been taking refuge on a different planet. One called Phoebe, where the protagonist of my latest "old bats in space" saga (Petunia) has just disappeared. She finally reached that point after I'd spent several months thinking about how to get her there, and after I'd spent another several hours rereading what I'd already written and filling in the missing bits. None of this is for publication; rather, it's my own escape from here and now and a means for imagining alternatives to what ails us at the moment. Writing this stuff is fun, and Petunia's having fun, and it beats drinking as an avoidance mechanism.
I've also got several reads going: books that run the gamut from Sayonara Michelangelo by Waldemar Januszczak, to The Atlantis Syndrome, by Paul Jordan, to Robert Charles Wilson's latest, Vortex and John Scalzi's engaging but silly newest book, Fuzzy Nation (both just finished). Some of these I'm reading for my classes (Januszczak and Jordan), so they sort of count as work, but I don't actually have to read them. I do so mostly so that I don't deliver the same stale stuff over and over again and can add fresh material to my stand-up art history and mythology routines.
But I won't be able to avoid the real world for much longer, so for anyone who's interested, here's what's on the Farm menu for the near future: musings on cucina povera (fancy Italian for peasant food) and utopia, energy options, food deserts and obesity, creating an oasis, and coming to terms with advancing age. Probably not all at once, though.
In the meantime, here are this week's Skywatch Friday entries, all taken with the new iPhone (but not the Camera+ app, which I'm still trying to figure out how to use properly) in the early morning during the last couple of weeks. The bottom two were shot in parking lots at or near school.
For those who celebrate it, happy Labor Day weekend. But please take a moment to remember what it represents. When asked, none of my students knew. Their most frequent response was that it has something to do with having to go back to school. Sigh.