Tags: new bedford


"Maybe he's caught in the legend."

A few minutes after I got out of bed, I wrote this on Facebook: I woke up at 8 a.m., after not getting to sleep until sometime after 4 a.m., fretting over old wrongs done to me. These ghosts are never going to let me rest. Here in Providence, it's 4˚F, with a windchill of -12˚F. I hate this place. Now, two and a half hours later, the temperature is 9˚F, but the windchill is still -12˚F.

I've cancelled on the 22nd Annual Moby-Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. I was to read a chapter beginning at 5:15 p.m. (my 6:15 p.m.), and I was really very much looking forward to this. But the weather is just too cold and the roads just to icy and snowy for me and Spooky (and her still recovering from the flu) to be out traipsing around Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts after dark.

Yesterday, I got Sirenia Digest No. 143 out, despite the headache. That took about two and a half hours. Afterwards, we had an extremely short walk in the snow, some 280 yards or so, give or take. The cold was alive, palpable, vicious, 15˚F, with the windchill at -5˚F. The wind was blowing 22 mph from the west and gusting to 33 mph. It was ill-advised, especially with my headache. As soon as I was back inside and had gotten the spacesuit off, I went the fuck back to bed.

The wind battered the house all night long, the wendigo holding court over Providence.

Also posted to Facebook this morning: In the process of removing myself from a bizarre assortment of twenty-three FB groups that I've been added without my even knowing. A good half were Amazon-self-published wannabe authors. And then: (Do NOT whine at me about how mean and closed-minded I am for disdaining Amazon "authors." Do NOT lecture me on my misbegotten wrongheadedness. I'll only delete the comments.)

So, yeah. Hardly four hours sleep last night, and I woke at 8 a.m. thinking about things I wish I could not think about. Like Selmasaurus and FHSM VP-13910, and that's a story that I should put down here, for the record. But not today. It's painful fucking shit.

There's no end to exhaustion, it seems. The days have bled and bled together, a subarctic smear, here "in the bleak mid-winter."

Aunt Beast

2:33 p.m.

2:33 p.m.

5:38 p.m.

Howard Hughes and the Cold

I actually am not sure I have the words to express how much I hate winter. The cold weather. The barren trees. All of it. For what it's worth, it's warmer today, currently 43˚F, with the windchill at 34˚F. We made it up into the low fifties yesterday.

No real progress on The Tindalos Asset yesterday.

Spooky's still feeling awful. I seem to have dodged the worse of this one, but everything is off, even more off than it was before she got sick. And this is what happens when we dare go to a movie in the winter. We were surrounded by sick people too stupid not to go to the movies when they're hacking up a lung. Epidemiology is beyond them. Or maybe they're not stupid at all. Maybe they just don't care if they make other people sick.

I have to get my Christmas cards out today.

I keep forgetting to mention, I have been chosen as a reader for the 22nd Annual Moby-Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and I've been scheduled for Saturday, January 6th at 5:15 p.m. I do not yet know which portion of the novel I'll be reading.

I'm sure there will be sick people there.

Aunt Beast

10:50 a.m. (this morning)

New Bedford, one hundred and sixty-six years later.

Here in Providence, on November 3rd, it's 74˚F and a good percentage of the trees are still green and flowers are blooming everywhere. Yes, it's a Chinese hoax.

Yesterday, I did manage to leave the house, and I even made it as far as New Bedford, Massachusetts. There was no particular reason for going to New Bedford. I find it a generally disagreeable place. But I'm reading Moby-Dick, and it's harder to get to Nantucket. So, we parked on Bethel Street, between the Seamen's Bethel and the whaling museum. We walked a short bit, more than my feet were up for, but we walked, anyway, north to the Fishing Heritage Center, where we suffered two very attentive docents. We finally slipped out the back and walked west up William Street to the Custom House (1832), which happens to be the oldest continuously operating Custom House in the Nation. We followed Williams to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment Memorial, which commemorates one of the first federally recognized Civil War African-American regiments. From there, we walked south down Acushnet Avenue, turned east onto Union Street, which took us back around to the Bethel and the whaling museum. We spent about an hour and a half in the latter. We last visited it in August 2006, and the museum (established in 1915), has added quite a lot of new exhibits since then. We headed back home about four o'clock. And that was yesterday. I think I'm going to sign up to read at the museum's annual 24-hour Moby-Dick reading marathon, which happens in January.

2:27 p.m.

A Whale of a Tale

I was, of course, being excessively ambitious in thinking I could easily do two or three entries today. Here it is 9:03 p.m., and I'm only just beginning the second. Anyway...

On July 29th, trying to take my mind off the nonsense with Penguin and the heartlessness of remaindering, we drove up to New Bedford, Massachusetts, to visit the New Bedford Whaling Museum. A small but superb museum, most notable in its skillful blending of cetacean biology, local history, art, and cultural anthropology. I will say, up front, that I have a complicated love/hate relationship with whaling and so visiting a whaling museum was an odd experience. The wholesale slaughter of whales in the 18th, 19th and early 20th Century is, in my eyes, a sort of Holocaust, murdering intelligent creatures and driving many species to the brink of extinction. And yet, the culture surrounding whaling, the great ships, the history of whaling, its effect upon the world, and, of course, the whales themselves, fascinate me no end. In this way, such a museum simultaneously inspires in me horror, sorrow, awe, and reverence. So, make of that what you will. Very often, that which most repulses us we also find so compelling.

The Whaling Museum is located atop Johnny Cake Hill, directly across the street from the Mariner's Home and the Seamen's Bethel (the very same one which Melville wrote of in Moby Dick). Upon entering the museum, we were immediately greeted by the sight of a mounted 65-foot Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) skeleton suspended over the lobby gallery. The victim of a tanker collision in March 1998, you can read more about how the museum came by the skeleton here. There was a smaller Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) skeleton sharing the gallery, but I didn't get a very look at it (a frelling wedding that had rented out the museum was interfering with everything out front). Also, the gallery walls were decorated with a mural by Richard Ellis, one of my favourite science authors and artists. An adjacent gallery contained the mounted skeleton of a Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus), which I personally found the most wonderful of the three, partly because it was mounted at floor level so I could get a better look and partly because toothed whales interest me more than baleen whales. The museum's Sperm Whale was found beached off Great Point, Nantucket, on June 7, 2002, and you can read more about the specimen here.

The museum was practically overflowing with marvelous things: a half-scale model of the whaling bark Lagoda, a display on the evolution of whales, a gallery of scrimshaw artefacts and another of new Bedford art glass, paintings, navigational instruments, period log books and diaries, a special exhibit on whaling in the Azores, a full-size replica of a ship's forecastle, including horrifically snug below-deck bunk section. There was a retrospective of the works of painter Ken Davies, and I was especially taken with "Goblin Time," "A White Halloween," and "Bell Book and Candle." There were harpoons, mastheads, dolls, grandfather clocks, and I could go on and on and on. Oh, and a so-so documentary in a nicely decorated auditorium, introduced by some guy who probably rents himself out as Emeril Lagasse for extra cash. We must have spent three or four hours there, and I'm sure we didn't see everything.

After the museum, we headed across the Achusnet River to Fairhaven, which really was a beautiful town, and on down to the old fort and hurricane barrier where the river runs out into Buzzard's Bay. At the fort, we were plagued by a second wedding, which had chosen the fort ruins for photography (???), but it was at least amusing watching the women in their ridiculous carnation-pink dresses having their hair-dos blown about mercilessly by the strong sea wind. I wanted to make some crack about the sanctity of marriage being endangered by all the damned heterosexuals, but Spooky wouldn't let me. After all, we were in Massachusetts. There was a little lighthouse a few hundred yards out past the hurricane wall, and fishing and sail boats were coming and going in the harbour. Then, on the way back to the bridge, we passed a third hot-pink wedding. Bizarre, says I.

Back in Greenhill, Spooky spoke with the housesitter in Atlanta, then made a pizza, and we watched One-Hour Photo, which we'd both somehow managed not to see in theatres but enjoyed a great deal. We read Blood Meridian until we were too drowsy to read more and must have gotten to sleep about 2 a.m. Now, some photos, mostly from the Whaling Museum (behind the cut):

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Okay. I'm afraid that's it for me and blogging today. I so wanted to get in an entry on our trip over to Watch Hill on Wednesday, but I think I shall go watch a movie with Spooky, instead. Perhaps tomorrow.

I'm a Squid Without an Ocean (song title?)

I have this plan today, as it's cool enough to stay in — indeed, there is presently a tremendous thunderstorm bearing down upon us and only 72F outside. I plan to write two or three entries in an attempt to sort of catch up and write down some of the more pleasant things from the last week or so, moments that were good despite the Troubles with Penguin. I'll start with yesterday, then later, do one for July 29th and then another for August 3rd. Somewhere, I'll squeeze in something about July 31st. We shall see how it goes. If we lose power, all bets are off. And yes, there will be photos.

In all ways, yesterday was the best we've had since leaving Atlanta on Tuesday the 25th. The heat was still monstrous, but, about 1:30 p.m., we fled the sweltering cottage in Greenhill in search of cooler climes. First, as a gift for having survived the aforementioned Troubles, for having not slammed my head in a door or broken things that do not belong to me, Spooky took me to the Kingston Hill Store, which is now run by Allison Barrigton Goodsell, a purveyor of books, used and rare, old postcards, and antique prints. We'd been there a few days before, and though I'd seen a couple of things I wanted, all was so uncertain I'd not allowed myself to spend a dime. On the return trip, I picked up The Sea and Its Wonders (1871, Mary & Elizabeth Kirby) and Forgotten By Time: A Book of Living Fossils (1966, Robert Silverberg — a book I was very fond of in junior high and hadn't seen since), both of which I'd spotted on our first trip there on the 31st. Browsing the shelves, I also turned up a first edition of my favourite Shirley Jackson novel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962), and Spooky said yes, I could have that, too. So, I left the shop about $50 poorer, but very happy with the books. By the way, back in the late '80s, the Kingston Hill Store (built in 1897) was a gas station/convenience store, and Spooky worked there at the age of 17.

The storm has passed, leaving all wet and green and cool, and so far we still have power.

After the bookshop, Spooky took me to the air-conditioned sanctuary of the Kingston Free Library (another landmark from her childhood), where I passed an hour or so reading books on fish, local geology, Rhode Island history, and an obscure volume of sea poems published in 1886. Oh, and I made notes for the next story or vignette, which will likely be set in the same unnamed town on the Oregonian coast that served as the setting for "The Cryomancer's Daughter (Murder Ballad No. 3)." Then we drove south to Peace Dale and spent another hour at the gorgeous South Kingston Public Library (Peace Dale Library), where I read of New England vampires and H. P. Lovecraft. About six p.m., we left the library, and Spooky took me to a foot bridge across the Saugatucket River. The river here is broad and slow, the tree-lined banks festooned with lily pads and flowering water plants. We spotted at least three species of dragonflies and watched several young Eastern Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta picta) surfacing for air and nibbling at aquatic plants. It's a truly beautiful spot, just off Main Street, not far south of Saugatucket Pond.

Afterwards, we headed south to Narragansett and had dinner at Iggy's, where I gorged on fresh codfish and chips, Manhattan-style clam chowder, and cole slaw (yes, I regret to say that my vegetarianism is lapsed, but I promise that I shall get back to it, by and by). After dinner, we drove still farther south to Point Judith. The sun was setting, and great thunderheads were piling up above Rhode Island Sound. We watched them from the northern side of the Point, and then Spooky took me to a spot on the southwestern side, a long and curving jetty built of Avalonian metamorphics, Proterozoic schists and granites and slates, and jutting out to sea (here bearing the delightful name, Harbor of Refuge). The incoming tide made wonderful gargling, slurping sounds as it sluiced through the hollow places between the jumbled rock beneath our feet. The lighthouse was at our back, and the foghorn was calling out, reminding me of Bradbury. Near dark, we headed back to Greenhill, and very much later, we watched John Huston's adaptation of Moby Dick (1956). Gregory Peck made such a perfect Ahab. And that was yesterday. I think I got to sleep about three p.m.

And here are the photos from yesterday (behind the cut):

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Oh, and there was a nice e-mail a day or two ago from Peter Straub. It's good to know the NYC heat hasn't baked him and Susie alive.

All photos taken by and copyright © 2006 by Caitlín R. Kiernan & Kathryn A. Pollnac.