Cloud Appreciation

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Just another day, just outside my window

I can remember the first (and only) time I heard someone describe a cloud as something more than just the warning of precipitation — actually, I remember reading it. My friend had gotten an English correspondent off some band’s forum online and she’d sent him a carefully folded letter that involved a thorough description of her most favorite type of clouds — cumulus nimbus clouds.

At the time, I was about 13, he was about 15 and we both had only heard “Nimbus” from Harry Potter’s Nimbus 2000. Thank God for Wikipedia. We looked them up, picked our favorites (pretty much any cumulus cloud), and that was that. Never heard anyone talking about them clouds in non metereological ways again.

That is, until last week, when I somehow ended up watching a documentary on clouds, cloud spotting and how a professor who needed a catchy name for a speech on clouds ended up with the “Inaugural Speech for the Cloud Appreciation Society” — and found followers. He even created an app (Mac/Android) so you can take a picture and figure out what kind of cloud you’re looking at.

And I’m actually very tempted to pay the R$6,23 to use it, except my phone (for all the good qualities that it embeds, such as not breaking when I repeatedly drop it) does not have a decent camera.

But I’ve found myself looking up at the sky more. And finding numerous different clouds everywhere.

And you know when you’re watching a movie or seeing an ad and you think to yourself “Well, that ain’t real”? Unless I’m in some sort of Truman Show my brain is playing tricks with me, ’cause those clouds up there? They were in my backyard. I was closing my window and I was just “Wow… that can’t be real”. But it was. And I can’t even tell how many sights like these I’ve missed because I was indoors or not looking up.

Also, apparently “Cloud Study” is a thing, and has been a thing way before meteorologists were called meteorologists. There was a guy called John Constable in the early 19th century who did a hundred studies of cloud formations —

Cloud Study 400

John Constable

And apparently they (meteorologists) are taking a closer look at these paitings, now with a cientific purpose, since Constable was very faithful to reality. You can see more of his paintings by clicking on the picture bellow and going into the Tate Museum’s website, and more on his life and work clicking here.

“Cloud Study”, 1822. John Constable

Constable, however, was not the only one to like clouds. It’s just a bit unusual to portray reality. Dutch Jacob van Ruisdael, for instance, created his own clouds to make up dramatic scenes.

“A Landscape with a Ruined Castle and a Church”, 1665-70, Jacob van Ruisdael

As well as (Joseph Mallord) William Turner — who was the only painter whose name got stuck in my head because his paintings were denoted “J.M. William Turner”.

“Raby Castle, the Seat of the Earl of Darlington”, J.M. William Turner

But anyways, all that to tell you I like clouds.

Do you like clouds?

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Crappy hotel, fantastic view

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My parents are awesome

I went to this thing with André Borschberg, the pilot of the Solar Impulse project (in case you, like me, have never heard about it, it’s a 2-ton solar powered plane that flies day and night and has crossed Europe, the US and god knows where else, and they are going for the world-round trip in 2015, pretty darn awesome), and ten of us won the raffle for a tiny replica of the HB-SIA – myself included.

I never win raffles, so I was super excited. The following texts ensued:

me: I just won a tiny plane!

Mom: YAAAAAAAAAY!

Dad: How many seats? When are you taking your license test?

My parents are awesome ;]

And this plane is beautiful.

My tiny plane

My plane.

Their plane.

Their plane.

 

As long as we’re here…

Let me sum up what writing this blog and participating in this community means for me (even if I have been away for x months):

it’s not only getting excellent recommendations for fantastic books we’d otherwise never have picked up,

it’s not only realising you’re not the only cookie in the jar, and there are people going through the same things you are,

it’s not only finding awesome people, writing awesome things that make you rethink everything (or just feel better),

it’s feeling amongst friends.

That’s how I feel whenever I read that new post, or get a new view, a like, a comment  — I feel surrounded by friends.

I feel like I know them.

 

And that’s an awesome feeling.

Can I get there by candlelight?

There, and back again.

I really don’t know why I was so surprised by “Stardust”. It’s Neil Gaiman. It’s got Neil Gaiman written all over it.

And I love Neil Gaiman, of course I’d love “Stardust”, even if it did take me a while to get the thing going. I love how his stories are never focused on one plot, but instead several intricate, converging ones that sort of complete one another – and then just BLOW MY MIND-, but at first I’m never seem to be hooked enough to compulsively read it. So granted, it took me a couple of weeks.

But once you’re hooked, you’re hooked.

I’d seen the movie and was stunned when I found out it was based on a book by none other than Neil Gaiman himself (who as you can see, I hold in great esteem). The movie manages to transcribe most of the quirkiness of the book, and perhaps even soften some aspects of it that kind of bugged me around the end, BUT it is nowhere near as enticing and just… linguistically seductive as the book. And it’s a pretty good movie.

But I’m assuming you know something of the plot. Actually, at this point, I think it’s almost irrelevant that you know the plot. It’s going to sound weird if I sum it up for you. It’s how it is displayed that’s interesting, as in most good novels. (But if you must know — simpleton boy promises his love-interest the fallen star they’d just seen, in return, she says she’ll give him whatever he desires. To find the star, he must cross the wall his village is named after, into a magical and fantastical world, where the star is actually a slightly glowing young woman with a short temper. There are several people looking for her, for all sorts of reasons. Stuff happens.)

I caved and dog-earned by favourite bits of it, as proof of my enthusiasm.

Firstly, I’d never heard shyness being described this way. It’s just so right.

He was painfully shy, which, as is often the manner of the painfully shy, he overcompensated for by being too loud at the wrong times.

Secondly, I don’t remember this quote, I just found it on Goodreads, but it just sums up what Neil Gaiman books are all about sooo nicely I had to add it.

A philosopher once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?”

Pointless, really…”Do the stars gaze back?” Now that’s a question.

Do you get it? Why it’s such a fascinating read? Why it never ceases to surprise you? Because never once had I stopped to think about trees and their former life —

“You’re a tree,” said Tristan, putting his thoughts into words.

“I didn’t always used to be a tree,” said the voice in the rustling of the copper beech leaves. “A magician made me a tree.”

“What were you before?” asked Tristan.

“Do you think he likes me?”

“Who?”

“Pan. If you were the Lord of the Forest, you wouldn’t give a job to someone, tell them to give all possible aid and succor, unless you liked them, would you?”

“Well…” said Tristan, but before he had decided on the politic answer, the tree had already said, “A nymph. I was a wood-nymph. But I got persued by a prince, not a nice prince, the other kind, and, well, you’d think a prince, even the wrong kind, would understand about boundaries, wouldn’t you?”

“You would?”

“Exactly what I think. But he didn’t, so I did a bit of invoking while I was running, and -ba-boom!–tree. What do you think?”

“Well,” said Tristan. “I do not know what you were like as a wood-nymph, madam, but you are a magnificent tree.”

The tree made no immediate reply, but her leaves rustled prettily. “I was pretty cute as a nymph, too,” she admitted, coyly.

(pages 186-7)

It’s stuff like that which makes me looove this author. And this book by extention.

I actually can’t find the quote that I really, really loved. It describes Faerie. All my other ones are kind of spoiler-ly.

Did I convince you that this is a very, very good book?

That your brain craves something like this? To go places it’s neeever been before?

Please tell me I did. And then go read it.

Writers’ Block & Writers’ Bloc

Have you not yet heard about Writers’ Bloc? Go take a look. They can explain it a lot better than me, in my current state. No even Plinky could get me a subject (just joined and totally have a story about being completely lost in past couple of days, but it just sounds baaad everytime I try to tell it).

Can I blame it on all the phagocytes trying to eat whatever it is I seem to have contracted?

But where was I? Writers’ Bloc, the awesome Goodreads group. They are gathering ideas for the first book to be discussed. First four books, actually. Doesn´t it sound like fun? Haven´t you always wanted to be in a book club? Come oon, go take a look already.

I´m looking forward to it. Especially since it seems one of the first books will be Harry Potter, and I´ve never really got a chance to discuss it properly. You know, with people who were also gasping at Quidditch matches and marvelling at the explanation for having the Whomping Willow at Hogwarts, conveniently guarding a secret passage into the Shrieking Shack (for more of my Hogwarts nostalgia, click here). And the focus of the group is, obviously, writing. It´d be nice to dissect some of the styles… That sounds bad. Is there a less destructive equivalent of dissecting? Meeh.

But anyways, the group has some great badges and by joining them you get to display one at your blog, should you have one.

I´m not really much of a writer. I tend to write a lot. In this blog, in my journal, in long emails to some friends, wherever. But it´s not really writing, it´s babbling. Sometimes I have a point, most times I don´t – it´s just that insane need to verbalize what´s on your mind. (I had a language teacher who made that sound really good. Gotta find that notebook.) I used to write short stories and chronicles at school, but somehow it just went away, and I guess I´m kind of hoping Writers’ Bloc would give me the push I need to get back to it (and perhaps the tools to make it half decent?).

I´ve always wanted to be able to use Gimp (that awesome opensource image manipulation program that´s supposed to be better than Photoshop and annoyingly noone I know in the field seems to care about it) but I´ve never done anything because I had no ideas I could actually implement with the little knowledge I have – then this guy comes along and, well, I don´t wanna be addicted to brain crack. Here´s my first ever animated image on Gimp:

As stated, Writers’ Bloc has some great badges with witty catch phrases, but should you want to use that one, go ahead :)

That´s it. Got a driving lesson to get to!

It got here!

At last, the book I’d ordered from Better World Books, Extras, got here! I thought it had been lost cause of weird shipping address (should have gotten here last week), but I guess it all turned out okay, they told me to wait a bit (very good, fast customer service).  It’s so pretty…. And new, even though it said used…. And it’s the pretty edition I like… And… aaah.

I’m drooling over the book, the BWB wrapping and the note inside. Can’t believe there is such a thing as free international shipping! But here it is, living proof. Pretty sure Dad still doesn’t believe it (he’d told me it was a scam). Too bad it arrived earlier than I’d anticipated and I still haven’t got Specials… Guess I’ll read it ebook form just cause I’m so excited about this one! (Hate ebooks)

Doesn't it look happy at its new home?

 

 

Postcards

This is so cool. Really. I’m super excited. Ever heard of postcard swapping? With people online? With an actual message on the back, from someone you don’t know saying something nice on the back of a place you’ve probably never been to? How fun would that be?!

I’ve always wanted a penpal, especially now that I’ve started learning French (and discovered I still remember a lot of Italian), I thought maybe I could write in English or Portuguese and they could answer me in their language. It would be so much fun! I love writing and receiving letters, and in fact sent quite a lot of them to my friends, but gave up since none of them returned my interest. Then I thought emails were the solution, but it turns out they weren’t quite fond of writing at all. So I turned to diaries/journals and they’ve kept me busy.

Anyways, I think this is awesome, I’ve signed up for it (through my P.O. box, a bit weary of handing out my actual address for the moment). Be brave! Go browse some local postcards and tell me you wouldn’t like to have someone to send them to! Or, if you do have someone to send them to, think about all of us, lonely people, forgotten by our long distance relatives in their fancy trips, or by our non-postal-friendly friends. And then subscribe! :D