The air feels alive

by Lorin Michel Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:45 PM

A storm approaches slowly. The air is crisp though warm, puffy clouds float amongst the blue of the sky. In the distance, darker, more ominous clouds are gathering. They say it’s Armageddon. I suspect they’re wrong. There will be weather but there is supposed to be weather this time of year. Since we haven’t had any of late, it’s much bigger news that it might otherwise be.

I love when the air feels alive. I actually heard somebody say that the other day and it rang so true. The wind blows. There is an electrical charge that pulsates throughout, like static electricity. Touch something and it snaps and sparks. The air flicks.

The wind swirls and gushes, teases the trees and the flowers, ruffles the hair. Birds flaps and fly, and soar, chasing each other up and down and around before coming to a screeching halt atop the building. You can hear the sound of their wings as the pulse through the air.

Butterflies hover and alight. Moths do the same. Small flying insects cruise about, looking for access to the light, the house. The wind helps them as well.

Sunlight streams through the upper windows of the house, the windows up near the ceiling some 16 feet up. Maybe even higher. They cut across the wall, horizontal glass that’s been UV coated so as to hopefully curb some of the fading that inevitably occurs because of the sun. Below, dust particles dance in each stream. I am forever amazed at how much is actually inside the air, things we can’t see until we can.


I am dust particles in sunlight, I am the round sun.
Say I am You, by the 13th century poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

I used to joke to those back east that I didn’t trust air I couldn’t see. They thought it was hysterical, given that I lived in Los Angeles and LA had long been known for its smog problem. When I was in college and visited California for the first time, I spent a day or two in Los Angeles. I remember driving up from San Diego thinking that the air must be so dense with emissions tat you couldn’t see anything. A really dirty fog bank.

It was nothing like that of course. The sky was blue. Yes, there was a bit of smog but it hardly affected the views or visibility. I saw an article today about China and their horrendous smog problem. There was a picture of a man walking his golden retriever. Both were wearing surgical masks to block out some of the bad air. All around them was smog, making visibility only about 16 feet or so. Scary stuff. The air in China is alive in a completely different way; not a good way.

Clouds are rolling in over the desert, filling the air. Those that were fluffy and white seem to have left for drier prairies. These clouds are heavy, a brownish gray, ready for rain. The air is getting thicker even as the winds pick up. A storm is coming and it will be glorious.

It will drench the earth, cleanse the soul. It will be difficult while it’s happening, but once it’s over the air will be clearer, cleaner; crisper. Reborn like tomorrow.

The Japanese writer Haruki Murakami wrote: “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Another metaphor for life, much like the air being alive. A living, breathing entity that surrounds us, keeps us true, it can spark with furry and dissipate in the wind. And then, it can dance in the shafts of the sun. That’s what life is all about.

Gingham style

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, July 31, 2013 12:14 AM

I admit to knowing damn little about the South Korean singer Psy who had an enormous hit in 2012 called Gangnam Style. It’s an odd song, halting, repetitive and impossibly catchy. The music video has been viewed over 1.7 billion times on YouTube as of July 28, watched more than even Justin Bieber’s single Baby. I have not seen either video, but I am fascinated by the phenomenon.

Gangnam Style is a relatively newly coined phrase in Korean that refers to a lifestyle associated with the Gangnam District of Seoul. It’s all about the upscale fashion and lavish lives of the city’s affluent trendsetters. Some compare it to our swag. The word Gangnam evidently combines the south (“nam”) of the river (“gang”) and refers to the Han River that flows through Seoul. Gangnam was developed in the 1970s and exposed the city’s rapid economic development in that decade as well as the 1980s, primarily showcased in real estate. Being Gangnam is being rich, pretty and cool.

Psy is currently doing a pistachio commercial where he’s dressed in his funky little outfit and he’s doing his funky little moves, talking about crackin’ gangnam style. He kind of looks like he’s riding an imaginary horse; those are the dance moves. I admit to having a fondness for the commercial even though the song is kind of annoying.

This whole phenomenon was and remains so popular that Psy was invited to entertain at the Christmas in Washington charity concert in Washington DC in early December along with Diana Ross, Demi Lovato, Scotty McCreery and Megan Hilty. Psy, whose real name is Park Jae-sang, appeared wearing an all-red outfit including a sparkling, sequined top and was backed by dancers wearing reindeer antlers. I’m not sure what Mr. and Mrs. Obama thought about it but I’d bet money that Malia and Sasha thought it was great.

I bring all of this up because in this house Gangnam Style has been replaced with gingham style, courtesy of Master Cooper Michel.

This past weekend, Cooper was in the Westlake Pet Motel as we made a quick trip to Tucson. No matter how clean the Motel is, and they keep it as spotless as possible, it’s still filled with a bunch of dogs, running back and forth, barking, eating, and more. And a bunch of dogs together can smell like a bunch of dogs. We always have Cooper bathed before we pick him up; we did the same with Maguire. Otherwise he smells like he just came from a shelter or kennel.

We went to pick him up on Monday afternoon, since we got back too late on Sunday, and out he prances, pulling at his leash when he saw us. He was clean and sparkly, smelling fresh and looking no worse for his time in the pet brothel, as Kevin calls it. And around his neck was a fresh new bandana. Blue- and white-checked gingham.

Gingham got its start in the 17th century when it was imported to Europe and later America from Malaysia. It was originally intended to be striped as evidenced by the fact that its name comes from the word “genggang,” which means striped in Malay. It is now known for its small uniformly checked pattern, and blue and white is one of the most popular choices. It’s lightweight; it’s cotton. It’s got style.

Gingham style. It’s being furry, adorable and fabulous. Such a trendsetter, our boy. 

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