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06 Oct 2011
Still More Yellowstone

You have to understand, I just don’t know how to convey this to you. I want to, I’m trying to, I’m giving it all I’ve got. But we thought we were going to see dull geysers, still stumbling around cranky and exhausted from freezing-cold-camping-induced sleep deprivation the night before, and somehow we stumbled into seeing this sort of thing.

Bleary. Getting sunburnt around the edges of our layers. Mike in a hoodie, as you see. But astonished at what we’d found.

As Lisel Mueller wrote, “I tell you it has taken me all my life… to learn that the line I called the horizon does not exist and sky and water, so long apart, are the same state of being… What can I say to convince you the Houses of Parliament dissolve night after night to become the fluid dream of the Thames?”

And then, then, let us go to one of the deep green places of the world.

I kept wondering why so many trees were down, everywhere we looked. I later learned part of the complex answer - huge fires, blowdowns, pine beetles, the way forests change over time. But not the whole story.

The best is yet to come.

We walked a long, curved road through icy winds and hot steam towards the Grand Prismatic Spring. It felt like the hot springs in Costa Rica, where I spent a day alternating between searing my skin under a pounding hot waterfall and standing out under a light, stinging shower of cold rain. Like alternating between a hot sauna and a cold pool. The walk itself was a luscious physical sensation. Even now, the thought of it fills me with a deep sense of peace and joy.

And as we approached the spring, it certainly didn’t hurt that when the winds blew the thick mists away, we saw this:

It looked like a watercolor painting in real life, too.

One of the most incredible places I have ever seen. And yes, those colors were real, right in front of my eyes.

Mists and mists and ORANGE! and mists and mists and GLORIOUS WATERS.

Layer upon layer.

Can you see the blue in the mists over the center of the spring? When you look at it from above, you can see that color in that section of the waters. But even from the side, the color rose up.

And then we left. The rest of the world seems drab in comparison, sometimes.

(That’s when it’s time to get the paints out, or turn on the torch!)

13 Sep 2011
More Yellowstone

Prismatic pools what? I had no idea, going into Yellowstone. Just NO idea. I even looked at postcards at the gift shop and laughed at how the photographers must have amped up the color intensity for the commercial prints. Nope.

Not at all.

Oh look, there's Mike!

Misbehaving as always.

Gunslinger interlude!

Quick, someone splattered paint all over the landscape!

With clouds echoing the flowers below, writ large.

More microorganisms!

So much inspiration for next time I sit down at the torch to work with my glass!

There's more yet to come, of course.

07 Sep 2011

I took a ton of photos in Yellowstone. I really didn't expect to - Mike kept telling me that Yellowstone is overrated, and anyways, geysers sounded boring. Frankly, geysers are boring! They look like fireworks without the colorful explosions up above, and without that grotesque and marvelous smell. (I have very fond memories of lying on my back in an amusement park as a teenager dangerously close to where the fireworks were being set off, thrilled by the gunpowder stink washing across my face. Probably sounds disgusting when I describe it now, but it was incredible at the time.)

But oh, somehow I wasn't expecting the prismatic pools and the colorful layers of thermophilic bacteria and such..!

First, something of interest only to me! This tree was right next to our campsite. I spent my bleary morning trying to identify precisely what kind of pine it was. Those proto-cone looking bits were soft and squishy and released pollen when flicked - fascinating!

Old Faithful dissolving into the clouds:

I expected to see dinosaurs chasing me around these pools near Old Faithful:

Or maybe witches:

I kept falling in love with the layers of color and texture of the heat-loving microorganisms near those pools by Old Faithful.

Mike kept asking what I thought the texture would be like if we touched them.

Not soft or hard, I'd think...

In fact, my best guess is that they would feel a lot like mother of vinegar.

Some people eat mother of vinegar, you know.

Can you imagine? And doesn't this stuff look like modern art?

I don't even like most modern art, and I thought this was beyond beautiful. I expect to be inspired by it in my glass work for ages to come.

What, no penguins?

You can see why people have that idiotic urge to wade in this stuff.

Again, the color textures!

Like rust bubbling up out of the earth.

Pools of it.

The water looked deceptively cool and refreshing.

This geyser only erupts when it has examined its priors and executed a cost-benefit calculation and determined that it is rational to do so:

19 May 2010
Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk and Squid

I discovered that my local fishmonger is willing to sell me squid as tentacles only. Brilliant! So of course we had to finally try to make fried calamari. Turns out that it helps to soak the squid in milk for an hour first. But then I bumped into the bowl and it shattered on the floor, spilling shards of pottery, milk, and squid tentacles everywhere!

Very sad.

18 May 2010
Three tints of Champagne

It can be so hard to choose the best version of each photo.

But it's like Yamamoto's concert in The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt.

Pages 176-7:

For the next seven and a half hours Yamamoto played Op. 10 No. 1 in D minor, & sometimes he seemed to play it exactly the same five times running but next to the sound of a bell or an electric drill or once even a bagpipe and sometimes he played it one way next to one thing and another way next to another. Some of these sounds were produced at the time and others were recordings, and after six and a half hours he stopped stopping to start the other sounds: a tape began to run & he kept playing. The tape was of traffic and footsteps & people talking and he played Op. 10 No. 1 nine times while it ran, and naturally you could see that you couldn't really hear how he was playing it or even how he was dealing with the two phrases. At 5:45 the tape came to an end and the piece came to an end and there was silence for 20 seconds or so, and then he played the piece so that you heard it after and over the silence. This went on for six minutes and then he stopped and there was a moment of silence and then he raised his hands to the keys.

You expected to hear Op. 10 No. 1 in D minor for the 60th time, but instead were shocked to hear in quick succession Op. 10 No. 2 in D major, Op. 10 No. 3 in B minor and Op. 10 No. 4 in B major, and you only heard them once each. It was as if after the illusion that you could have a thing 500 ways without giving up one he said No, there is only one chance at life once gone it is gone for good you must seize the moment before it goes, tears were streaming down my face as I heard these three pieces each with just one chance of being heard if there was a mistake then the piece was played just once with a mistake if there was some other way to play the piece you heard what you heard and it was time to go home.