Thursday, September 29, 2011

Geysers are cool

I mean, geysers are SOOO cool!

I spent the last week in/on a super volcano! It's kinda creepy thinking about what made Yellowstone the amazing natural wonder that it is... but millions of years ago, this gigantic volcano exploded, leaving the caldera that forms the valleys, canyons, and peaks of Yellowstone park.

The Yellowstone River as viewed from the brink of Lower Falls

It was... beautiful there. I went to see my friend Lori during her last week as an Interp ranger at Old Faithful... I knew I would enjoy hanging out with her and hiking, but I never anticipated that I would dig geysers so much! Each one has its own personality... from the predictability in timing of to the nature of each eruption... I was duly impressed. Some geysers blow off steam and super heated water for hours... while others barely trickle. Here are some of my favorites:

Sponge: This is an eruption for Sponge geyser...
 Yay Sponge! You erupted! It seems like a lot of effort!
White Dome (in the background):
This geyser erupts every 20 or 30 minutes! The geyser in the foreground
(Great Fountain) is less frequent in its displays

Daisy: This geyser makes a chugging sound like a train during its
steam phase (at the end of the eruption cycle).

Grotto: This geyser has a strange shape, probably due to a tree falling into it
and becoming covered with minerals. It will also erupt for extended periods of time,
sometimes up to 24 hours or longer!!
Old Faithful: Not the biggest or the most dramatic
 geyser in the park, but surely the most predictable.
Beehive: This geyser's eruption is higher than Old Faithful's
and if you stand in just the right spot, you can get soaked by
the water as it falls on the boardwalk!

Castle: This geyser can have a dramatic and lengthy steam phase.
And my favorite, Great Fountain: This geyser has a 4 hour window in which
it may erupt. It begins with a trickle, then starts to roil, and then shoots water sky high!
I was lucky enough to catch a "blue bubble" in Great Fountain. According to the Geyser Observation and Study Association website's page on Great Fountain,
"a Blue Bubble occurs when a calm and still pool of water is domed up by a large expanding steam bubble. As the steam bubble rises and expands, the entire 16 foot wide pool of water is lifted and domed outward creating a beautiful blue bubble. Once the steam reaches the surface the water explodes outward and upward."
Have I geeked out enough for you yet? It was completely amazing!

I also learned that there are people who spend weeks, sometimes the whole summer, watching geysers and reporting via walkie talkie to the Old Faithful visitor center with the time of eruptions. They're called "Geyser Gazers," and they get REALLY excited about geysers... I mean... really. Who knew? (Confession: now that I know that GG's exist... I kinda wanna be one.)

More on Yellowstone later... I still have waterfalls and wildlife to cover! So much packed into one week! For now, it's off to bed with me... although I'll have to snuggle with the dog tonight since Noah has to work the overnight shift in the office. Bah. At least Tag doesn't snore!

Monday, September 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo is 6 weeks away!

First, a BIG thanks for all the positive feedback on my little short from last week. I am so thrilled that you all liked it so much! No, I'm not telling who is in the casket... that's a story that will have to wait for another time... like... after NaNoWriMo...

Eek! I only have 6 weeks to get my act together on my new WIP for National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). I have a lot going on before then.

I need to get an outline together this time. I want to KNOW where this story is going... at least hypothetically at first... so that I can make an effort to get there. It's a good idea, it just needs some *Ooomph*.

And I'm going to Yellowstone this week! I'm so excited! I've never been to Yellowstone... and since Lori is working there until the end of the month, I thought I'd take the opportunity to see one of the nation's most amazing parks. Oh man. Here we go! There will be tons of pictures that come out of that venture, I hope.

Speaking of this week... On Wednesday (the day I leave for Yellowstone) Emily Suess will announce who the top 10 finalists are for her writing contest from Writers' Week last week. We are all waiting with bated breath... well, at least all of us who entered are. The rest of you could probably care less. But! You should care! There will be on-line voting to determine the winners starting on September 26th. YOU can help decide which entry gets the grand prize.

Dad and Mary in Brooklyn with us for a morning.
I'm not even saying you should vote for me. How could I? We don't even know who the finalists are. But there is some great talent out there, and it deserves your attention. So take some time... visit the writing contest page and check out these entries. Then, if you have time, on September 26th vote for your favorite piece to win.

Ahhh... I'm off now to work on a couple things I need to get done before I leave on Wednesday morning... but first to take the pup for a hike.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Writers' week writing contest entry!

writers' weekThis is my entry for the Writers' Week writing contest:

Just Breathe

"You'd be much more attractive if you'd smile more," my mother nagged, stopping in front of me to straighten my collar and brush a molecule of dust from my skirt, which was far too wrinkly to give away any dust or lint. I sucked in a sharp breath of frustration, held it, and counted to three.

"It's a funeral, ma," I said, rolling my eyes. "We're not supposed to smile." I was sweating profusely, even in the sleeveless black dress I had borrowed from Abby. The mid-summer heat was oppressive.

Mother pursed her lips irritably and pretended she hadn't heard me. "You know, the Jergins's youngest, Bobby, just got back from a tour of duty in Iraq. He'll probably be here today."

"Ma," I pulled my head away from her hand as she reached out to brush my hair out of my eyes. "I used to babysit Bobby. Also, he might not be so keen on me once he hears my political views, or sees my tattoo." I headed up the walk to the funeral home again. Mother followed briskly.

"I've already explained to the Jerginses that you had no idea what that horrible man was tattooing on your body and that you're having it removed as soon as possible."

I stopped abruptly, eyes wide. "What?"

"Well, how do you expect to find a decent husband anywhere with THAT tattooed across your body?" Mother turned away from me and waved at another couple approaching the funeral home.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and walked away again. Almost there. Ten more steps to hell, but at least I wouldn't have to listen to her carry on anymore.

"Welcome, welcome. Thank you for coming," said the ancient doorman. "The Stevenson/Everrett memorial is just down this way. May I take your coat?"

I blinked at the wizened old man curiously. "It's a hundred degrees out."

"Very well. Very well. Right this way, please." He tottered off down the hall. The door closed with a loud WHUMP behind me, causing a giant cloud of dust to rise out of the decades old carpet. I followed him along the dimly lit corridor, painfully self-conscious of my body in a dress, made all the more awkward by the two sizes too big combat boots I insisted on wearing as part of my funeral garb, just to give my mother heart palpitations. Whatever.

I held my breath as I entered the room the doorman showed me to, partly out of anticipation of the waiting crowd of people, and partly to hold off the "old person smell" that I knew would accost me the moment I faced them. With a rustle of whispered sound, I watched as people milled around the rows of seats, giving sympathetic nods to one another, compassionately gripping each others' shoulders or hands.

I stood there in the doorway somewhat reluctantly, the aged doorman swaying beside me like an autumn leaf. "Uh, thanks," I said, nodding at him and clearing my throat. He inclined his head toward me reverently, but didn't leave. I could hear his rattled breathing. I would have stayed right there for hours, if it weren't for the arrival of my mother and the couple from outside. I was swept neatly into the room.

Groping hands reached in from every side to pat my shoulder or my cheek. I sidestepped as many hugs as I could, but I couldn't avoid their eyes. Equal parts pity and judgment. Fuck them, I thought, chewing on my lip-ring, and trying to resist the urge to brush the hair out of my eyes. I didn't need their pity or their judgment. I was just fine.

The faces began to blur together. It seemed like time would just stand still. And then I saw my mother gliding toward me with Bobby Jergins in tow. I needed to escape. I ducked my head down and slipped to the front of the room, but it was a close shave.

"Olivia?" I heard my mother calling.

"Not now, Jean-Louise," a sharp, metallic voice responded. "Give the girl some space." Great Aunt Hester to the rescue. The woman was tiny, but she was fierce. "Go ahead, Livvy. Go on." She patted my elbow, since that was as high as she could reach.

I held my breath again as I approached the casket. This was it. No going back. Once I looked at him, it would be real. Was I ready for that? Each step forward was shorter than the one before. I didn't think I was ready. But it was this or face my mother and her latest "match." I'd rather die, I thought, casting an envious glance at the casket again.

I didn't belong in that straight-edged town anyhow. If I could just look, just let him be dead... I could let go. I could move on.

I leaned forward to look inside the casket... and breathed out.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's "Writers' Week"

writers' week It's Writers' Week over on Suess's Pieces! You should check it out. She's got lots of tips and tricks for writers from other writers! It's going to be an inspirational and informational fun-filled time :) Also, there's a writing contest. Eep! I may actually complete a piece just to be involved. Join me and Emily Suess and stretch your brain a little this week.

In other news, I got pretty much no writing at all done last week. I did have some good learning time during yoga, but no forward movement on the word count. I need to wrap this thing up pretty quickly now! September is flying by, and I want to be ready to work on my Other WIP for NaNoWriMo in November. Gasp!

Goals for this week:
1. Finish knitting wrist warmers to take to Lori next week in Yellowstone
2. Write end sequence for WIP #1
3. Check out books on Kauai from the library (we're going next month! yay!)
4. Write entry for Writers' Week contest
5. Bake something with apples in refrigerator...
6. A new sketch (would be nice)

What are your goals this week?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Yoga = revelations of a heroine

Don't ya just love it when you can clear your mind enough to actually hear your thoughts? It's been FOREVER since I attended a yoga class... like, try before Thanksgiving last year...

Photo credit: Lori Marois

and I've been a little under the weather, recently... and more sedentary than usual... I have been feeling the need for a good stretch. So I mustered my motivation and made myself go to the beginner yoga class at the studio down the street from me.

Oh the stretch. I ached for days after. But it was good aching... and I'll be going again tomorrow.

It's good for me to stretch my body and my mind. While I am doing yoga I try to focus on a couple of goals mentally (the poses and the teacher usually do enough for my physical stretching). First, I try to remember to breathe. That's hard for me! I get so tensed up, stressed about doing the pose correctly or about the creaking strain from my muscles uncurling... that I forget the basic concept of breathing... and the thing is that, if I can't remember to breathe, I surely can't quiet my mind...

Which is the second goal I focus on... a quiet mind... that can hear things that I need to hear instead of all the chatterings of anxiety and stress and "shoulds" that crowd in and cause me to forget to breathe :) (It's a vicious cycle, isn't it?). I don't think I usually accomplish either goal satisfactorily. Or at least I haven't yet... but if I don't go to yoga I don't make any progress at all... so going is good... and breathing is good... and then, during the shavasana (my favorite part, at the end) a thought popped into my head about my protagonist, my heroine... the thought that connected her to me in a way I had not considered before... I realized that I want to wake up and discover that I am a warrior, just as she does...

and now I'm ready to begin the first of many re-writes... I have a better understanding of what she needs to become who I want her to be.