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Extremes of Temperature

Yargh.

So, after a couple of days of dismally wet and genuinely cold weather, today we were hit with what the meteorologists are calling a heat wave. Yesterday, the highs in Providence were in the low 70s F, today, in the mid 90s F. And this house — built in 1875, and designed for New England winters — is great at keeping heat in. Whether it's summer or winter. So, we had a sauna today. Hours and hours of unpacking books in a sauna. Finally, partway through sorting out my paleo' books, I wandered away to the bedroom, sweat-soaked and half-delirious. I lay down, and Spooky set up a fan in the doorway, so that tepid air blew about the place just a bit. But. There's really not a lot of difference between stagnant sauna and circulating sauna. Anyway, I think that was about 4:30 pm. She lay down, too, and I dozed, feverishly. I think Hubero even joined us. Then Spooky got up, quite some time before I did. I must have lay there at least an hour. Pretty much miserable, half dreaming. I tried to do some more unpacking afterwards, but the thermostat (for the baseboard radiators) was reading 81F (around 5:30 or 6). So, I said screw it, and we got in the car and headed for Point Judith, where, as it turns out, the weather was quite wonderfully chilly. Really, at the most, low 70s, maybe 60s, a cold breeze blowing off the Atlantic.

We stopped at Iggy's for doughboys, just as they were closing up for the night. If you've never had a doughboy, they're a little hard to describe. A bit like the beignets you get at Café Dumont in the French Quarter in New Orleans (and, presumably, elsewhere), only slightly saltier, and, instead of powdered sugar, they're coated with granulated sugar. Fried, and somehow fluffy and dense at the same time, they are delightful. We ordered a half dozen and headed for Harbour of Refuge, a mile or so farther south. Literally, "land's end." We sat there, first in the car, then out on granite boulders near the jetty. I closed my eyes, taking in the surf, the foghorns from the Point Judith lighthouse and maybe, distantly, from the lighthouse on Block Island. The crashing waves. A bell buoy. There was an undercurrent of beach roses beneath the high-tide smell of the sea. To me, the ocean so often smells like sex, which seems very appropriate. Only a waxing sliver of moon in the sky, but it was bright off the breakers and the pale stone. Before long, we were shivering, our teeth chattering, and we headed back to the car, and then home again. Amazing. No more than thirty miles, and we went from sweltering to shivering. I will note that we could smell the sea long before we left the city, which was the first time I'd noticed that.

Tomorrow, sauna or no sauna, unpacked boxes or no, I have to, in some capacity, go back to writing. Whether it's something for Sirenia Digest #31 or The Red Tree or the introduction for Joshi's Machen collection, I will work on something. I have written nothing of substance since May 20th (!).

There's a thought that has been going round and round in my head, because of all this moving, weeks of being confronted with two people's lifetime accumulation of furniture and books and clothes, dishes and papers and knick-knacks. Make of it what you will. When you buy something, it becomes your responsibility, so long as you are alive, and, for that matter, even after you are dead. Whether it is an end table, a plastic straw, an action figure, an envelope, a dictionary, or a tank of gas, once you have bought it, it belongs to you. All this stuff. You are responsible for whatever impact it may have (or has had) on your environment, your world, forever. In a sense, it was made for you, after all, even if the manufacturer did not know that you, personally, would be the buyer, the owner. And when we buy a thing, or give a gift, we should do so with this responsibility in mind. We may consider a paper cup or a ballpoint pen or even a DVD player "disposable," short term or long term. But, the truth is, you own it, whether it's in your home or taking up space in a landfill somewhere. In this paradoxically materialistic, throwaway society, responsibility does not end when our need or desire for an object ends. And like I said, just a thought.

I believe that I will live here, in this house, until I am at least -15 (which would be 16 years from now). I think it suits me. I know it suits Spooky.

Oh. New address, finally. You may now contact me at, or send packages to:

Caitlín R. Kiernan
P.O. Box 603096
Providence, RI 02906 USA

Comments

( 26 comments — Have your say! )
derekcfpegritz
Jun. 8th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
You don't live anywhere near Federal Hill, do you? I'll be swinging through Providence in August, I think: I've got to drop the Shining Trapezohedron off at the Starry Wisdom Church before September, so I figured I might as well make a road trip out of it and head up to Arkham after....
greygirlbeast
Jun. 8th, 2008 04:12 am (UTC)
You don't live anywhere near Federal Hill, do you? I'll be swinging through Providence in August, I think: I've got to drop the Shining Trapezohedron off at the Starry Wisdom Church before September, so I figured I might as well make a road trip out of it and head up to Arkham after....

Pretty much everyone who lives in Providence lives near Federal Hill.
derekcfpegritz
Jun. 8th, 2008 05:52 am (UTC)
Is the Starry Wisdom church still there at the top of the hill? I'd heard the Scientologists had bought the building in the 1980s, and www.starrywisdom.com has been down since 1999....
jtglover
Jun. 8th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC)
I went looking for it when I visited in... 95? Something like that. Anyway, some eye-talian guys told me that it'd been torn down. Don't know if they were having me on, but I went to the spot it should have been, according to Lovecraft's Providence.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 8th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)

Something like that. Anyway, some eye-talian guys told me that it'd been torn down. Don't know if they were having me on, but I went to the spot it should have been, according to Lovecraft's Providence.

The old church was, in fact, demolished quite some time ago.
derekcfpegritz
Jun. 8th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think that the original structure was torn down in the 1940s, actually: the building had been abandoned for several years in HPL's time.

Don't know what I'm supposed to do with this Shining Trapezohedron thing now, though. Guess I'll use it as a paperweight, as long as it settles down that damned thing in my attic. You would not believe how much damage the acid it secretes has done to my attic floor....
cailement
Jun. 8th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like your house. Especially enough to stay there so long. Have you thought about purchasing an air conditioner? I know usually it doesn't get SO hot in the North East, but I HATE being hot, personally . . .
omegamorningsta
Jun. 8th, 2008 04:00 am (UTC)
Heya. I blogged. You are mentioned. You know where to look :)



Edited at 2008-06-08 04:12 am (UTC)
greygirlbeast
Jun. 8th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)

Heya. I blogged. You are mentioned. You know where to look :)

I just read it. It actually made me...I don't know...sad. Omega and Larissa should look for Nareth on the beach some time bewteen 7 and 10 pm SLT, on June 8th. I believe she may make an appearance.... (and I miss you guys too!). The kid will be safe with Bellatrix, for a time.
robyn_ma
Jun. 8th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC)
'And when we buy a thing, or give a gift, we should do so with this responsibility in mind.'

I suppose this rules out my plan to send you that life-size styrofoam sculpture of Mel Gibson.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 8th, 2008 05:06 am (UTC)


I suppose this rules out my plan to send you that life-size styrofoam sculpture of Mel Gibson.


You just left me speechless...
robyn_ma
Jun. 8th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC)
It seemed like a good idea at the time...
reverendcrofoot
Jun. 8th, 2008 06:26 am (UTC)
I read this and imagined the "treasure" I would leave behind by the time I died. The pollution used to support my life will help rise sea levels, increase hurricanes, destroy bio-diversity and for what? my comfort?

We are holding guns to people's heads we can not see and it makes it easier I am sure, but doesn't change the outcome.

What does one do? Or is there anything you can do? other than push it forward and hope it is someone else holding the bag, maybe your children, maybe their children, but definitely someone, and we will have done our little bit to help.

(The mere fact of writing these letters and words causes pollution for the power the server and its backups consuming something like 150 kwh per year.)

greygirlbeast
Jun. 8th, 2008 07:20 am (UTC)

(The mere fact of writing these letters and words causes pollution for the power the server and its backups consuming something like 150 kwh per year.)

Exactly.

All human actions, like all human possessions, have consequences, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not.

What does one do? Or is there anything you can do?

We have reached a point so far along in the process that any answer is not easy, or pleasant, or "practical." All effective answers are extreme. But. As I said above, it's just a thought.
reverendcrofoot
Jun. 8th, 2008 08:59 am (UTC)
But doesn't that thought hold unsavory power?

I need a Scotch. Maybe it'll make me forget the carbon footprint I'm leaving by choosing to drink it.

greygirlbeast
Jun. 8th, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC)

But doesn't that thought hold unsavory power?

I think it should hold great force. It should be sobering.

Unsavory? Well, according the American Heritage Dictionary —— Unsavory, adj.
1. Distasteful or disagreeable: an unsavory task.
2. Not savory: an unsavory meal.
3. Morally offensive: an unsavory scandal.

So, yeah, Definitely #1.
babymamadramaxy
Jun. 8th, 2008 07:23 am (UTC)
Doesn't it suck how much paleo books cost? I mean, you can get a pop-sci book for cheap, but the really important books are way out of my price range. And I am generally disappointed with the quality of the work. The unfounded assumptions are always there in paleoscience, and so people like my father, who is an extremely hard-headed biochemist, don't even bother with learning the fossil record.

For instance, I think the whole "dinosaur" phenomenon is like a taxonomic and phylogenetic bestiary tradition with its origins in Richard Owen, a 19th century creationist, whom Darwin loathed. And the worst, absolutely most odious practice in paleontology is the full color oil paintings they show the public of each new species of which they only have a skeleton or even just part of a skeleton. Argh.

Pseudoscience, thy name is Owen.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 8th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Doesn't it suck how much paleo books cost? I mean, you can get a pop-sci book for cheap, but the really important books are way out of my price range.

They can be expensive, those that are released by academic publishers, but that's because the potential market is so small. I do tend to get pretty good discounts, being a member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

For instance, I think the whole "dinosaur" phenomenon is like a taxonomic and phylogenetic bestiary tradition with its origins in Richard Owen, a 19th century creationist, whom Darwin loathed. And the worst, absolutely most odious practice in paleontology is the full color oil paintings they show the public of each new species of which they only have a skeleton or even just part of a skeleton. Argh.

Paleontology has come a long, long way from the days of Sir Richard, as has paleoillustration. I know that many neobiologists still look down their noses at paleo' as a "soft science," but I think, in part, that's because they don't know the changes in methodology and focus that have occurred since the 1950s or so. As for the illustrations, yes, oftentimes too much is made of too little, but, increasingly, this is the exception, not the rule. You should see (and read) the work of Greg Paul, for example, and also Douglas Henderson. These are painters who are also anatomists. They insist that they're reconstructions of ancient creatures and worlds we as accurate as possible, that the illustrations themselves be falsifiable.

As for Owen, while he erred in rejecting Darwinism, he was, for his day, a good scientist and a damned fine anatomist, and modern biology, both neobiology and paleobiology, owes him much.

Edited at 2008-06-08 03:19 pm (UTC)
babymamadramaxy
Jun. 8th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
If I owe him, that's a debt he'll never collect.
greygirlbeast
Jun. 8th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)

If I owe him, that's a debt he'll never collect.

Well, no, I'd think not. Not with him being corpsified and all.
jtglover
Jun. 8th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
Glad you've found a place that promising. It's appealing to think of finding a place you'd like to stay for that long. Hot house = no fun, but down the road perhaps there can be a room or two with window a/c units.
stsisyphus
Jun. 8th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
...the truth is, you own it, whether it's in your home or taking up space in a landfill somewhere. In this paradoxically materialistic, throwaway society, responsibility does not end when our need or desire for an object ends.

Although one of those obvious bits of wisdom which remains obscured by the fact that we choose not to recognize and acknowledge it, it is good to see it expressed so clearly. Unfortunately, this wisdom does not sit well with most people in said culture, even those of good conscience and intellect. It is harder for a cable to pass through the eye of a needle, as it were...

And while you were speaking of things, materials, objects, I read this and immediately thought of this being as immediately applicable to the people we accumulate and choose to collect (and especially, engender).
greygirlbeast
Jun. 8th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)

Unfortunately, this wisdom does not sit well with most people in said culture, even those of good conscience and intellect. It is harder for a cable to pass through the eye of a needle, as it were...

To quote Upton Sinclair, as quoted in An Inconvenient Truth, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." And, of course, in a consumerist society, everyone's salary depends upon mass consumption and mass acquisition. And, too, we have simply been trained, from birth, to want things we do not need. Which gets back to an economy based on mass consumption. I am only slightly less guilty than most others.

And while you were speaking of things, materials, objects, I read this and immediately thought of this being as immediately applicable to the people we accumulate and choose to collect (and especially, engender).

Well, I think the thought, in part, formed about the idea, the adage, that if you save someone's life, you become responsible for it, forever. So, yeah.
kambriel
Jun. 8th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
Our apartment in Salem was lovingly called "the brick oven". Sewing heavy velvet clothing there in the Summer was *fun*.

And how in the world did I miss those doughboys for so many years?
sfmarty
Jun. 8th, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC)
I have looked around my house where a generation of packrats have lived and collected stuff. Full of the knowledge that my daughter in law will throw everything away when I die, I am trying to find good homes for the most valuable stuff now.

By the by. If you are trying to sleep in a hot, humid place, sleep on toweling. It absorbs the sweat and is actually cooler.
seph_ski
Jun. 10th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
That paragraph you wrote on ownership has been running through my head since I read it. I've been on a bit of a minimalist kick for over a year now, and I honestly don't think I've read anything about possessions and "stuff" that hit home quite like your words. I've had a few impulses to acquire in the past couple of days that I've been able to ignore because I started thinking about ownership and what I really need, how long I'd actually want the things I currently wanted and what would happen to them later, all thanks to your words freshly in my mind. May I quote that part of your post in my own journal? I'd like to have it there as a reminder.
( 26 comments — Have your say! )