Saturday, October 4, 2008

water falling sounds like water falling

On the corner of Cesar Chavez and Congress Ave., I find a waterfall. Water falls from street level, down a man-made granite structure, to the holding area – in a business park. At the bottom of this fall, I am sitting on a bench. Benches face the water for the purpose of viewing - or sitting and eating one's lunch while viewing, or sleeping as someone else is doing. Benches complete a picture someone had.

The natural elements: water, sun on water, true-blue sound of water falling, knowledge that slick-cut granite was once rough: beauty. Structured, formal form used to bring these elements to the entrance of a 30 plus story glassy building: appreciated for room they make for light, water, sound on this street, but nothing in and of themselves. 

When I walk past the top of the falls at street level, wind sprays droplets on me: this initial captivation, the spray and the splash, drew me to sit at the bottom. Sound of water falling nearly blocks out noise of traffic. Not quite. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sense of Place

On another note, I walked through Pease Park today after some time away from the area. The stream is completely dried up. Those purple flowers I noticed that once, gone. A thin film of pale dust coats the stream-bed stones.

I remember another site changing as I watched. Much more closely I followed this other site. In my Ecology: Natural History class at College of the Atlantic, each of us chose a small site–no more than 15 square feet–to frequent for the term. Our teacher asked us to spend 10 minutes a day observing changes in the site: keeping a field journal of notes, sketches, photographs. I picked an abandoned lot, with remnants of an old house foundation, across the street from the house I rented at the time. Goldenrod, aster, dandelion, a rhubarb patch, a few sunflowers, timothy, clover, and vetch competed for space among other vegetation. Tiny young oak saplings tried to take root in the sunny far left. The snow, when it came and covered the spot, left some brown, dead weeds sticking up through.

The first day, I took note of as many different plants as I could find on my site. In September, many plants were still in flower, though past prime, and by October, most turned to seed, dropped off, browned, blew away. I lifted pieces of brick and bark and discovered earwhigs, centipedes, grubs, worms, ants. I noted different birds passing over and the stray cats in the neighborhood, the number of acorns that dropped from the parent tree nearby. The bumblebees–how the bees frequented less and less, disapearing altogether by mid-october. Bits of glass, metal wire, wrappers, rotten wood, rusty nails.

Its funny how I remember that site so well, 3 years later, because of how often I sat in stillness watching and listening. I can close my eyes now and feel I'm there. There is something to be said for observing one small place or one thing and sensing it change, room to grow a relationship between self and place. A constant space to observe change. My back yard here? Will do.



I suppose one act can also be the other, but not always. For instance, an observation might be an insight, but not all observations are insights. Like wise for judgments. I was curious about the definitions for these terms, so here they are. 

Observation is either an activity of a living being (such as a human), which senses and assimilates the knowledge of a phenomenon, or the recording of data using scientific instruments. 
Observations are statements which are determined by using the senses2 a: an act of recognizing and noting a fact or occurrence often involving measurement with instruments observations> b: a record or description so obtained 3: a judgment on or inference from what one has observed ; broadly : remark , statement

Opinion: a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter

Judgement: 1 a: a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion b: an opinion so pronounced

Reflection:6: a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation7: consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose
Insight 1 : the power or act of seeing into a situation : penetration2 : the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bubble Tea Fix

Guess I can discuss observations evolving from bubble tea. I desired some bubble tea last night. So I was on my way over to Coco's cafe to get some when I noticed a venue two spots down from Coco's that I had never seen before. The Tapioca House, as this other place is named, does not stand out, sandwiched in a sliver of space between Chase Bank with their large, looming logo sign, a Vietnamese Pho restaurant also serving bubble tea, and Coco's Cafe on the other side of the Vietnamese place. 

The Tapioca House did not initially strike me as fun, playful, cool like Coco's does. Not much color or style. No outdoor seating. Not a particularly compelling sign. I would like to try a new place, plus the line is short. TH (Tapioca House) actually has more options, so TH I enter. 

In fact, now that I'm here, what do I choose? Coconut smoothie? What is in that? The girl behind the counter says, "I did not know we have coconut smoothies" Okay then, I will skip that one. What about seseme bubble tea, is that good? The girl behind the counter can't say - she has never tried seseme before. Okay, well, I'll have hazelnut. That will satisfy my desire for something new and seems a safer option than seseme or barley or avacado. 

Flavors don't often taste like their namesake anyhow. Taro tastes like milk left over from a bowl of Oh's cereal. Hazelnut could easily be coffee or grahm cracker. Delicious, yes, but I probably wouldn't guess hazelnut. 

How do they make tapioca balls anyway? and is bubble tea even good for you?

From Wikipedia:

Bubble tea
, also called "Boba" tea, is a tea beverage that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s and migrated to Canada before spreading to Chinatown in New York, then to various spots throughout the West Coast of the United States[1]. The literal translation from Chinese is pearl milk tea (traditional Chinese珍珠奶茶Hanyu Pinyin: zhēnzhū nǎichá; Tongyong Pinyin: jhenjhu nǎichá). The word "bubble" refers to "bubbling", the process by which certain types of bubble tea are made, and not the actual tapioca balls. The balls are often called "pearls." Drinks with large pearls are consumed along with the beverage through wide straws; while drinks with small pearls are consumed through normal straws. 

The distinctive characteristic of bubble tea is the presence of chewy translucent balls of pearl tapioca (that sit at the bottom of the glass). Usually the pearls are "large pearl," larger than the "small pearl" that is customary in tapioca pudding. Cooked, large pearls have a diameter of at least 6 millimeters. Occasionally, "small pearl" tapioca is used. Both sizes of pearls are available in a variety of colors. The pearls are prepared by boiling for 25 minutes, until they are cooked thoroughly but have not lost pliancy, then cooled for 25 minutes. After cooking they last about 7 hours. The pearls have little taste, and are usually soaked in sugar or honey solutions.

Bubble teas are generally of two distinct types: fruit-flavored teas, and milk teas

Good to know.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Not really sure what to write about. Very tired. The time on this blog is wrong - it always posts the time a few hours earlier than it actually was. It is 11:07pm. 

I noticed a number of people with journals at ACL jotting down song lyrics. Saw 3 note takers at Bright Eyes. I overheard one guy say to his girlfriend, "I would never go to this festival by myself."
"Why?" his girlfriend asks.
"I don't know. Who would you talk to? I think it would be kind of lonely," he replies.
"Yeah, but I think I would just meet new people to talk to," she pauses, continues, "I've seen a lot of people writing down ideas for would be kind of cool to be in it so much for the music, you know?" She responds. (we both noticed the note-takers)
He nods his head, "That's a good point."
Then, they look over at me. I am rifling through my free program.
"We need to get one of those. See you get free songs," the girl points out.
"Actually, you can have mine - I've never bought music from i-tunes," I say, handing over the 25-song card.
"Hey, Thanks!"
We end up talking for a little while waiting for the band to play. I almost let them know I came by myself this year and I have also come with people in the past. Coming alone is a cool experience...set the schedule/pace (fast, front) and run into more familiar faces than expected in such a huge mass (bumped into Blake twice for instance). But I don't tell them. The music starts.