Imagine imagining publishing a book that would sell for £16,500 per copy. I mention ‘per copy’ lest you think that’d be the price for the whole print run. Yes, The Sistine Chapel is a brand-spanking new, limited edition, three-volume book available now from your nearest Callaway Arts & Entertainment supplier. I’d ask ‘wtf’, ‘why’ and ‘who’ but I think you probably beat me to it.
I took this image earlier today. The low angled morning sun turned the roiling green sea to jittery, jingly, shimmery brown. The wind was howling so I used the Dun Laoghaire pier wall as a shield. I set the aperture to f/16 to maximise the depth of field, set the shutter to 1/1000 to minimise the shake with the big lens, handheld on a windy day. Then I overexposed the distant lighthouse with an ISO of 3200. And hoped the two image stabilisation technologies – OIS in the lens and IBIS on the sensor – would do their thing.
I was reading about Tesco Corner in Tullnally earlier this week in The Company of Trees (2015). Thomas Packenham wrote about planting some walnuts he bought in Tesco to create a part of his arboretum at Tulaigh an Eallaigh or what might also have been called the Hill of the Swan. I’m on a bit of roller-coaster, mixing my metaphors as easily as others plant mixed trees. Trees, the Irish language, legacies and landscapes are this January’s interests. We are shaped by what we read so I think it’s a good tactic to read new things to lift you from a potentially amorphous life. A carpenter who good had reason to visit our home this week, on seeing our laden bookshelves, asked for a recommendation. What could I say? We had talked of how cancer accounts for about a third of all Irish of deaths each year. What I did say was that In Your Face is a great read by and we can ask the author to sign it.
Meantime, we’ve been outfinched by a neighbour. This is a case of rival bird feeders. While we are content to get a lot of siskins and goldfinches eating the nyjer seeds, even more garden birds flock to the feeder next door. I never expected to suffer finch envy but I’ve studied the neighbouring feeder and I see the attraction is the supply of sunflower hearts. You may recall that we had a giant sunflower that featured as a guest on my journals last summer. I wrote that ‘I think of the sunflower as Anak Helianthus because it seems to me that the sunflower is both a child of and a force of nature’. Those seeds of Anak are saved and resting over the winter, preparing for a spring campaign. No matter the finch envy, I’m not feeding Anak to birds.
Half of the sunflower seed is fat so no wonder the birds love them. A good portion of these are polyunsaturated fats such as linoleic acid. That acid is commonly used as a quick-drying agent in paint and the kind of varnish we have used as a weather seal on our garden bench. It’s a copy after an Edwin Lutyens design, made last year, and the birds often crap on it. This is insult added to injury, if you ask me.