30 July 2011

Routine (of a flittertigibbet)

I am interested in routines. I am constantly in search of a good one, of the right one, of the one that's going to fit and be productive and centering and lovely, forever and ever, amen. 

I haven't found it yet. 

That may be because my schedule is a completely different animal every four-five months, according to when my classes are. It could be that I haven't found a pattern I love enough to fight for.

Two weeks ago, I started a new thing with a friend. (Credit where credit's due--it was her idea.)


That's probably getting ahead of myself, actually. Let's call it "attempted running." Or "hike/dash/pant." I like the last one. It's the most true. We have a 4.5-mile loop that begins in the local Rotary Park and meanders up and down the midsection of Casper Mountain, a trail known as the Bridle Trail. It also crosses the top of Garden Creek Falls (and involves two in-trail crossings of Garden Creek).

This is not a post about the act. This is a post about what greets me nearly every morning. 
Natrona County through the trees. If it were a bit less humid that morning, you could see to the Big Horns.
This wee streamlet is Garden Creek. A bit further down, and it's a respectable waterfall in this wet summer.
The first two pictures here are on the ascent of our path. The trees around the creek are thick, the air dense and cool. It reminds me of Pennsylvania in all of the best ways (and without the mosquitoes and woods' flies). The landscape is dominated by pines and aspens, though some birch and maple still make their way there. 

The next images are the descent, and this is where it feels like Wyoming, the way I understand Wyoming. On this side, the bones of the earth are bared and raw, the rock red and white and vast.

I want to stand up there, with the lonely loose rock.

In this one, you can see the stark difference between sun and shade. My whole life on the East Coast, I didn't feel like it made much of a difference, courtesy of humidity and haze. Here, the sunlight is a palette knife's edge, cutting and turning the color over. 
Every morning for me now is a melange of work and rest, sweat and chill, pine-needle cushion and granite. These have been the best mornings for me that I can remember.
Lens flare for J. J. Abrams and the sun demanding notice at 6:30 a.m.

19 July 2011

Another little adventure

I, like many other nerds in the world, have been spending a good bit of whatever spare time I have knee-deep in George R. R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons. (I'm not quite finished with it yet, so no spoilers. On pain of maiming.) I've also had some visiting family, and the family visit included a trip to Denver. This post is about that trip, and I'll be back with something a little more focused in the not-so-distant future.

We've been and will be in Denver a whole lot this summer, at least compared to our first year in Wyoming. That is, though, never a bad thing--Denver's a great city, full of a lot of beautiful spaces and good food. And Pacific Mercantile Company, which is where I have to go if I want to get any Asian comestibles that haven't been on the shelf for two years already. (That makes me sound a lot more sophisticated than I am--I bought udon and some black vinegar, sure, but mostly I bought three kinds of gummy candy, including a delicious mango/tamarind sweet, strawberry daifuku, Ramune to drink on the walk back to our hotel, and panda cookies. Japanese candy makes me so happy.)

We also made return visits to the Denver Botanic Gardens and The Denver Museum of Nature and Science for their Real Pirates exhibit so that we could share two brilliant places with the visiting family members.

I don't know much (or what kind of
plant you are, but I know I love you.
No photos from the pirates exhibit, alas, but it is the most excellent thing and only there until August 22, so if you're in the area, you really need to get yourself to the DMNS.

I took a number of photos at the Botanic Gardens, though (with my phone, sadly, because I managed to leave home with a camera with a dead battery and no charging apparatus, but the phone did okay, all things considered). This image to the left is some plant that was housed in the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. It was potted beside a resting bench, and there was no marker of what it was called, but I thought it was striking because of its center. The purple inner leaves that shade out to regular green are very cool, too, of course, but look: at its heart, there's a small tuft of what looks like  moss, and it's sprouting its own flowers, tiny violet blooms with pointed petals. I was reminded of very, very small mountain harebell--it's just that color. The plant was also cupping a bit of water around the moss, making a wee island. I could have sat in front of it for hours, but I was already planning to spend an inordinate amount of time in the pirates exhibit, so one has to pick one's battles.

The visit also included a visit to Coors Field to see the Rockies play the Brewers. Coors Field is a lovely ballpark, and I have to admit a real fondness for the Rockies. My blood is Philadelphia red, but the Rockies (and their Casper affiliate, the Casper Ghosts) are great favorites of mine. (In August, when the Phillies play the Rockies in Colorado, it's going to be hard to not cheer for the Rocks, too. I might be that idiot at the stadium just clapping and hooting after every play, no matter what happens.)

Ubaldo Jimenez pitched for the Rockies, and I had a chance to watch him warm up in the bullpen, Coors Field being one of those places where fans can actually look down from the concourse into the bullpens. This is possible because Rockies fans are rather kind. You'll notice that, at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies play, the Phillies bullpen is not in open view to the public. That's because Phillies fans will harass their own relievers just as much as the away team's.
And then, because it was a bit rainy before the game, we were treated to a very lovely bit of rainbow above the Qwest building at Coors Field. The Brewers are on the field there. The Brewers got beat pretty badly at this game, but we did get to see Corey Hart hit a home run late in the game. The Rockies' Ryan Spilborghs also went yard. The only disappointments that I had at the game were that Carlos Gonzalez was still out following a collision with an outfield wall just before the All-Star break, and I didn't get a photo of our section's beer guy. Captain Earthman is apparently an installation at Coors Field, and I absolutely see why. I've seldom seen anyone who enjoys the job as much as he appears to enjoy his. If you're going to Coors Field, try sitting in the vicinity of Section 155 or nearby to get the most of the experience.

03 July 2011

Èccolo World Traveler Journal

I've been thinking about this journal for a long time because I originally thought that it would be my travel journal for my UK trip at the end of May. I ended up choosing a blank Exacompta journal for that because of the blank pages, but now I've got the Èccolo World Traveler Journal beside my bed for those middle-of-the-night ideas and so on. So let's talk about the wee thing, shall we?

Lovely shade of green, and the tree-in-relief is a great textural detail.
It's 5x7 inches (12x17 cm for the metric-using folks), and it contains 256 lined pages. I am a big, big fan of notebooks that are generous with their included pages. The little specifications sleeve there on the right (which is removable, of course--just a bit of cardboard) says it's got an "Italian Faux Leather Cover." I don't have any idea what that actually means, and the other side of the sleeve says it was made in China. Whether that means the cover material was made in Italy and it was all assembled in China or it's actually faux Italian leather which was made in China because it's only faux-Italian or the sleeve was the thing actually made in China (I'm guessing that is not the right answer), I don't know. I blame this on the vagaries of English and the deliberate vagaries of product labeling. And that's all of only secondary importance because the key thing here is that I love how this cover feels. It definitely feels almost like leather, but with a certain near-rubberyness that makes it feel like this journal would bounce if the cover were just a little thicker. It's supple and smooth and the center image of the tree is in relief on the darker green background. It's a nice textural detail that adds interest without being obtrusive.

Now the paper.
That'll do, Notebook. That'll do.
This is, of course, not Clairefontaine, not Rhodia, but it definitely does better than okay. The paper is a nice ivory color that's a bit more cream-colored than it appears in the photo, and it holds up pretty well to most of the inks I tried with it. There's very, very little feathering. If you click to embiggen, you'll see a bit of capillary action with the Levenger Cocoa and the Tsuki-yo, but it's remarkably crisp with the Raven Black, the 1670, and the Diamine Syrah. Also, I'll forgive this paper for feathering a smidge with the Tsuki-yo because that was put down with a Noodler's Flex pen, where there's a lot of ink to deal with. I was surprised by the Cocoa feathering--where I think it's the most pronounced--because that's one of my most well-behaved inks. Of course, it could be that the True Writer/Cocoa combo have declared themselves as being in a fully committed relationship with my Ecosystem notebooks only. They do see each other most often, and far be it from me to homewreck a happy trio like that.

Perhaps even more exciting is how well it works with the Lamy Studio F and the Raven Black. That's a pen and ink combo I hadn't tried before, and I wish I had. The Studio is sort of my last resort pen. I don't love it, though it writes well enough. It's a weight issue, mostly--it's a little heavier than I prefer. (If anyone wants to propose a trade for the Lamy Studio F, I'm more than willing to entertain suggestions.) But the ink, the pen, and the paper right here are lovely together--the line is fine and neat and smooth. 

I couldn't get a clear image on the reverse side of the paper, but there's a bit of show-through. The worst line, predictably, is the Tsuki-yo because there was a lot of ink involved there (a few little dots of bleed-through, too), and the two True Writer combos follow. The rest of them, however, are quite tidy. Again, the Lamy/Raven duo is the best of the lot--barely so much as a shadow and definitely not enough to interfere with writing on both sides of the paper. The Lamy Joys (both sizes, both inks) also behaved quite well.

When I decided to move this journal to my bedside, I put the Pilot Prera with it because I liked the greens together. After this test, the Studio is definitely going to take up residence there.

The Èccolo is available many places (office supply stores, online, and so on). I think I got mine at Staples, and it cost $7. I definitely consider that a worthwhile purchase. I just wish that it were a little more clear on what the cover is made from. (I'm sure it's some sort of petroleum-based synthetic cover, and I'd rather it weren't. It's very cute, and it performs well, but I still would rather have something like the Ecosystem journal because I know what that whole thing is made from.)