Friday, August 30, 2013

Island Strata

After my cousin's wedding, we went for a hike on the island.

We came across a cliff that had eroded.

At several points in the past, the beach must have been higher, because different layers of rock and sand were piled onto each other.

This was near a tiny waterfall--more like a water-trickle. The large stones procted the sediment underneath them from eroding.

The cliff side had been there long enough for moss to start growing on it in some places.

It was easy to imagine one was looking at Arizona cliffs. I almost expected to hear the Road Runner.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wedding Mural

My cousin Molly painted this mural for her wedding.  It's hard to see in this photo, but it was about eight feet tall.

As soon as I saw it I recognized the four elements.  I was a little surprised, because I thought I was the Neo-Pagan in the family, and weddings usually take place at St. Mark's Cathedral in Portland. 

Molly and her wife, Janet, worked a really long time to come up with words for their wedding that would be meaningful for both of them.  When I asked about the Moon and Mercury, they said that these were the ruling planets for Cancer and Gemini.

Speaking from experience, it can be difficult some times to be in a mixed-faith marriage.  In addition to the Neo-Pagan elements, my cousin Jane sang The Lord's Prayer (another family tradition).

They did a great job giving the ceremony a NeoPagan feel without being in-your-face about it.  I think all the ritual tools were there, but at no time were the non-Neo-Pagans alarmed by an unsheathed athame during an Invokation to the East.  Instead, the quarters were summoned by the ringing of a bell.

When they get back home, this mural will go up at their business.  All the guests signed the margins.

I think the favorite line from the ceremony was after they drank ritual wine together and the officient said, "May you never thirst."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lesbian Celtic Camping Wedding

My cousin Molly is marrying her partner, Janet, in a camping wedding.  Since they live in Washington, by noon they will be wife-and-wife.  I don't know the particulars of the ceremony other than they will have a hand-fasting, and that they will jump a broom.   To the shock of the traditionalists in the family, there will be no bagpiper--unless one gets snuck in.  In a side-conversation, it turns out that there are two traditional bagpipe songs for weddings:  Mari's Wedding, and the Lewis Clan Wedding Song.  Both are the same tune.

Most of the family has gathered in a camp site for the ceremony and party.  A few are staying in the Indian Casino about twenty-five miles away. 

There's almost tame deer living in the surrounding woods.  I thought more of them would show up for the apples the kids knocked to the ground.  The deer's shift was covered by raccoons, who visited in the night and left a trail of Wheat Thins from the picnic table to the nearby bushes.  

Saturday morning the brides were up at 7 AM moving things around.  I'm not sure why Janet had a small hatchet with her, and we were awake enough for all of us to make Norman Bates jokes.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Anxiety Dreams

Not up so early this morning.  I'm working on a short story that is done enough for a reading tonight, but really not quite finished (it wants to be too long for the reading), accordingly, in the dream department:

I dreamed that Peter Gunn (the one from Carleton College) and I were late to a History Class being taught by my Middle School History teacher.  What I remember was that people were performing presentations, on the Civil War, I think.  And then there was a test.  When I got my test back, I had an "F".  I looked at my answers, which seemed more or less correct, but I'd been marked down rather arbitrarily based on the teacher's obscure formatting rules.
"Well," he said, "It's OK, entertainment isn't your strong suit."
I was upset, and must have been awake enough to be annoyed that a twenty-five year old me could fail a Middle School History class, and now I was going to have to go to the principal's office to get the grade changed to Pass/No Pass to try to salvage my GPA.

No, I haven't just started a new job.  That couldn't have anything to do with it.

There was another dream, which mostly involved taking a bus tour--I think... there might have been much more.  The only thing that I really recall was that a small black bat flew from a red barn, into the bus, and between my Mother and her friend, J.D., then sort of crawled along the back seat, over my shoulder, and back out the bus.  Maybe the bus was a van, because the side was open.  There was a short discussion about how some people would over-react.  (I'm guessing the cat was active during this one.)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fortune Cookies and Dreams

Today is my first day back at the UO English Department as a technology consultant.  I'm looking forward to re-joining the team because they appear to still have a friendly esprit de corps.  Coincidentally, I got a fortune from a cookie last night which seems apropos: "You will be soon be part of a team.  Work cooperatively for success."  (Yes, there's an extra be in there.)

Last night's Chinese food probably is the source of the non-stop dreams I had...

I was working on a play.  All I can remember at the time was that I had written it, it involved a mailbox, and I'm guessing that it was supposed to teach astronomy.  I was working under a deadline, throwing all sorts of things together, and I needed an iMac with which to print the script for the rest of the small cast and also 3D print the mailbox.

The iMac I wanted to use belonged to another IT department (this was an amalgam department, which, now that I think about it, was housed in the rocky foundation of the Very Large Gazebo (which was possibly also a library or bookstore).  There was a kind of hand-shake agreement that I could borrow iMacs, but someone in the other department made a sudden decision that I wouldn't be able to.  I was furious.

So, I had to improv my one-man play (OK, there was an assistant).  Without a 3D printed mailbox.  I gave a lecture about the rotation and orbit of the Earth and how it produced the seasons, spinning a large multi-colored umbrella for the earth while I walked around my lovely youngish female assistant who held a beach-ball sun.  The lecture was delivered in Mock-Swedish, ala The Swedish Chef.

There was a break. I was climbing a mountain with Mark (or at least it started out Mark, but over the course of dream events we changed into other characters).  We got to the top, and it was snowy.  I don't recall why we were there: if it had started out as a regular hike, or if we were exploring a jungle, or if we had crashed on an island or what.  We decided to rest, and spent a lot of time trying to find a comfortable position to sleep (I wonder if I was tossing in my sleep, as the rocks and snowdrifts weren't all that cold, and seemed too easily moved; sort of like pillows).

Presently, there was someone singing "Where Are the Simple Joys of Maidenhood." and the upshot was that I was alternately a disembodied third-person observer or a twenty-something beardless man with longish curly hair.  There were two women climbing the mountain, an older matronly woman and a younger maiden.

I don't recall, but somehow we ended up in the roaring river which was suddenly there.  I guess I must have recalled that we were supposed to be on a mountain, because after flowing through some mountainy-mesa-y valleys, the river plunged over a cataract (one of three) and into a pool.  The matron was swept over the cataract, screaming, and into a clear blue pool in a very deep caldera.  Oddly, she wasn't drowned or smashed to pieces.  The waterfall, it turned out, was pouring over a lava vent, so there was hot lava at the bottom of the pool, and ash collecting on its rim.  Oddly, she didn't boil to death; so the water temperature must have been just right (snow run-off plus hot lava equals ashy hot-tub?)

Another break.  The maiden and I (as twenty-something) were in a wooden kind of house built into the side of the cliff next to the waterfall.  We were looking for someone.  I am not sure if the matron was with us, or stuck in the pool, or if we were trying to work our way down the house so we could get to the pool, or if we were trying to find a Dr. Livingston character.

In any case, the twenty-something went downstairs, where jungle natives blew air-darts into him.  (I must have dreamed about blow-darts earlier, because they seemed familiar somehow.)  He passed out and woke up with everyone in an overgrown, bushy, scrub-oak jungle.  There was a voice-over about gentle natives meeting brutal Europeans, the resulting conflict, and now how the gentle natives were angry vindictive natives who shot people.  Cue the parting bushes.  Cue a rifle barrel point out...

And I woke up.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vacation Report

We're back from a visit to the Stout Redwood Grove, near Crescent City, and the Oregon Caves.

We camped for two nights in the Patrick Creek campground.  One of the attractions was that there was no electricity, so that meant there weren't a whole lot of RV's with stereos and satellite TV surrounding us.  We were right on the river, and surprisingly, I didn't have dreams about waterfalls or tidal waves.  

The first night, Thursday night, was stormy.  I'd just gotten the tent set up when it started to rain in earnest.  There was thunder and lightning, which was cool.  We managed to start a fire -- I liked the grills there:  they had a corkscrew for raising or lowering the grill over the fire.

That night I did have a very long serial dream that was part Pokemon  and part Voltron, with extra vivid colors.  Mark is blaming some chocolate cake we had just before bedtime on that one.  There was a lot of flying in that dream, and I managed to remember enough of it to try to draw some of it.  The second night I slept poorly; I was looking forward to a repeat of the technicolor dreaming, but instead I hung in a kind of flat, dark awareness that didn't feel restful.

Friday we visited the Stout Redwood Grove.  The trees usually remind me of the stars because some time in the 1980's someone used the analogy of the life cycle of trees to illustrate the life cycle of a star.  I'm always inspired by the girth and height of the redwoods, and the old fallen trunks are always fun to scamper on.  It amazes me that some of the trees are 2000 years old -- I can barely believe I have memories ranging thirty years or more and I get lost in the imagining when I wonder what it could be like to be twenty centuries old.  

We stopped for milkshakes at a place called She-She's.  Somewhere Mark has a picture of us sitting in plastic chairs shaped like hands.  

Saturday, after a breakfast at the Patrick Creek Lodge (Food, Booze and Snooze), we left for the Oregon Caves.  Mark made reservations at the Chateau there.  Visiting the Chateau is a little like going back to the 1950's -- or at least the Cafe there is (OK, and our room's bathroom had a 1950's feel, as well).  We ate more hamburgers and milkshakes there in two days than I normally have in about three weeks.  The Chateau was like a smaller version of the Inn at Old Faithful. And... staying there one night was on the spendy side -- but I appreciated being able to get a comfortable night's sleep right (except when a guest was coughing her lungs out at 4AM) next to the caves. 

I took an architectural tour of the chateau, which turned out to be more historical than architectural.  

And then there were the caves.  I remember visiting them sometime around 2002, only I had mixed some of the vaults up in my memory.  I think my favorite features are the creek coming out of the caves, the soda-straw stalactites hanging in the Ghost Gallery, and the feature called Paradise Lost.  

We were lucky enough to take more than one tour (Mark took the candlelight tour).  What was interesting to us was how each ranger told different versions of the same story.  It was like the folk-process meets the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.  In some stories, the bear featured in the cave's discovery is a brown bear, in others its a grizzly.  In some stories, a devastating mudslide happens in 1964, in others 1954.  In some versions of the ghost story, the hapless groom brings a pistol; in others, a riffle.  The first tour of the caves I took, the focus was on the people who had interactions with the cave during the Taft presidency.  The second tour of the caves I took was focused more on the spleliogenesis of the caves.  

Sunday, I was prowling the chateau's top floor and I managed to get some ghost stories out of the maid.  She was cleaning "Elizabeth's Room."  Elizabeth was a bride who in some stories hung herself and in others jumped out her window (roughly sixty feet up).  I heard the story about the guest who kept finding his clothes repacked in his suitcase and who was woken up by a ball of light at 2AM (he checked out right then).  I heard about the four ghost children, who alternately giggle in the night, or cry in the cleaning closet, or who tuck in other children (or maybe Elizabeth does the tucking...).  There wasn't a story about the maintenance man who apparently liked working at the chateau so much he decided to stay.

I asked the maid if she had ever seen any of the ghosts (she'd been working there for ten years) but she said that she hadn't.

And then it was time to come home.  Mark did all the driving, for which I was grateful.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's at a Chateau

We were lucky enough to stay at the Chateau at Oregon Caves.  I was humming the opening to "A Weekend in the Country" during our stay ("just think of it Petra / it's at a chateau..").  It's a small hotel with about twenty rooms.  The Chateau was constructed in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). 

The instide reminded me a little bit of the Inn at Old Faithful.  It was dark, which encouraged looking out the large windows at the forrest outside.  There used to be a short balcony running along the west side of the building, but the snow load was too great in the winters and they were removed.  The interior was a kind of mix of Arts-and-Crafts and pioneer. 
What was amazing to me was that the hotel was in the middle of a steep ravine.  The lobby was on the street level on one of the hotel, but on the other side it was on the forth floor.  The stream from the Oregon Caves was mostly diverted around the hotel except for the bit collected in a reflecting pool uphill from the building.

In December 1964, there was a huge mudslide caused by a pinapple express melting all the snow uphill.  A seventeen foot high wall of debris barrelled down the ravine and through the hotel.  It knocked the hotel off its foundation and they had to use hydraulic jacks and chains to put it back.  As a result, there are places where the doors are not square with their jams, and if you look at some of the support beams in the gift shop, you can see they aren't square.

I think I'll live with the clay ground making our house foundation move a little.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Red Snail

 Sunday we took a hike through the Douglas firs and madrone growing near the Oregon Caves--and this is one of the snails we found.  It's endemic to the area, about a quarter size of my fist, and bright red.  I heard a park ranger say that the snail eats the moss growing around here.  Since the mountain the caves are in is made up of a lot of marble, the moss has a high concentration of calcium in it.  The snail gets so much calcium its shell is extra thick and sturdy.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cool Dragonfly

 We're back from a trip to the Redwoods and the Oregon Caves.  While we were near the Stout Memorial Redwood Grove, I managed to get a close-up photograph of this dragonfly.  I'm not sure if it had just molted or what.  It didn't fly away when I walked up to it, although it did flap its wings like crazy for long enough for me to get about three macro shots of it.  This one came out the best.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

It's Worse Than That, It's Physics, Jim

I've just finished watching Brian Greene's "The Fabric of the Cosmos."  I want to be able to write science fiction based on recent science, so I'd placed a hold on the DVDs at the library--nine months of waiting and voila!

The four-part series was cool, although I think they overplayed the Big Bang sequence.  Mark watched a little, too; he thought they jumped back and forth betwee scientists too much.

Anyway, as a science fiction writer, the most interesting aspect was how the space-time continuum can be thought of as a snapshot slice of "Now", and how that slice can appaear to angle through different parts of the space-time fabric depending on the observer's motion.  The theoretical upshot is that you can do a kind of red- or blue-shift on "Now" for places that are vastly distant from each other.  It's that whole relative observational frame thing.

I wonder if you would get a time-viewer if you could quantum-entangle a very distant particle, place it into a telescope focus or other detector, and then move it forward or backward to red- or blue-shift the "Now" slice.   Or, to put it another way, if one can have spooky interaction at a distance, why not have spooky interaction over time?

I am not sure the how adequately explained the shifting of the "now" slice of space-time, because one would think with the increase in universal aexcelleration, we'd see a spherical boundary where the "Now" slice would appear to make very very distant galaxies  move backward in time as our perception of the "Now" slice swept "backward" toward the Big Bang.  

Hmm.  Maybe I'm going to have to read the book....

Oh; I can hear....  It must be the Eugene Celebration or seomthing because I'm hearing muted Funky Jazz fusion from very far away drifting through my open window... apparently, downtown Eugene has been time-shifted to the 1960's.

And now, to sleep.

A Brief Cleaning Break....

Whoes muddy feet in Summer time
Did track o'er these wooden floors?
And did the shedding household cat
bring dead beasts in from out of doors?

Bring me my Broom of burning gold;
Bring me my Dustpan of desire:
Bring me my Mop: O clouds unfold!
Bring my Vacuum Cleaner of fire!