Monthly Archives: January 2012

In case of the blaaahs.

In case of a grumpy mood, read a silly book. In case of too much stuck-in-the-head, do some gardening.

I have this mental concept of a hotel room guest book with pages for what to do in case of emergencies. (From the fabulous Havi and Selma!)

I’ve got a new page to add: In case of the winter blahs, go to the children’s science museum!

Albuquerque is a two-hour drive from here, so we try to make sure that when we go down, we do a few things or spend time with Sean’s family. Whatever we do, we really make a day of it.

This last weekend we were just in an odd space. We’ve both been a little sniffly and the weather’s been warmer but there’s still crazy cold snaps and the wind is terrible.  We were restless, but not quite sure what we wanted to do about it.

Then a friend from Albuquerque let us know that Chipotle had opened up down there. You’ve got to understand, Sean spent twenty years in Denver, and has contemplated making occasional runs up to Pueblo for a Chipotle fix.

But we still weren’t going to drive for four hours round trip for a fast food burrito.

“We could go to the gardens,” I offered. Winter and early spring seem to be the seasons we get down to the Botanical gardens the most. Because we’re odd like that.

And we’ve done the Albuquerque museum a mess of times, and just recently were in the Natural History Museum. And then I remembered. “Explora!”

The burritos were good, even if the line was way too long.

But then we got to the children’s museum.  The best part of the day was running around and playing with stuff. Before you even get to the exhibits there’s a huge ball machine, with swirling tracks and drops, and switches so that you can’t ever predict if the balls are going to wind up in the mouth of the turtle, to be passed down to the next layer, or drop down and bounce back into the hopper that leads to the funnel. I really can’t imagine the hours of tinkering it was like to set that contraption up, but I could watch it for hours.

Once we were all the way inside we played with stations divided into themes: water flow and pressure, air, electricity, optics, shapes and sound. There was a set of pipes to force water through by switching the valves for water and air flow, and a cello had been set up so that you could see reflected and magnified the vibrations of the strings when played.

A clear box took me a while to figure out. A sheet of thin black metal balanced on a short pillar, and outside of the box was a salt shaker, and another box with a dial. Finally I snapped that if you put salt on the metal sheet, and then turned the dial, the changing vibrations make the salt move. And if you left it tuned to certain frequencies, the salt formed patterns.  Super cool.

The second floor of the museum only extends halfway. Crossing the empty air over the ground floor are sheets wired up like sails, and a bicycle on a wire.

I’m pretty sure the bicycle is supposed to teach about counter weights and tension, and things, but I’m also pretty sure that most kids look at the science card for that about as long as I did. The volunteer strapped me into a harness, then clipped the harness to the frame of the bicycle itself.

“Pedal slowly, and keep the bicycle straight,” she offered, then unclipped the bicycle from the landing.

I pedaled backwards, over the air exhibit (fittingly enough), while Sean shook his head and snapped pictures, despite my dire warnings.

I must be getting older, because there was a moment or two that I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was with the whole set up, counterweights or not. But then the volunteer waved for me to start pedaling back, and in less than a minute I was back on the landing, getting out of the harness.

We stayed until it closed, winter blahs long gone, and a new option of things to do added to the list. Whether I do the bike again? Not sure. I think it’s Sean’s turn.


Wool Gathering

On the drive back from Denver a small pod of sky whales kept pace out my port window. I imagined how they would sound, where they were going, and when I looked again they were gone.

I’d gone up to spend time with my best friend and her daughter, The Most Awesome Child. She is brave and fearless, and will out of the blue tell you “I’m awesome.” And really, you can’t disagree.

We watched silly shows and made plans for future projects and talked late into the night, and all was pretty much perfect.

Especially since on the way home, the most incredible clouds kept me company.

When I was about the age of the Most Awesome Child, we spent a lot of time on airplanes. Enough so that I was convinced that if someone died, before they could go anywhere else they’d have a layover in Atlanta.

And no matter what my parents said, I more than half believed there was a real world out there in the clouds. Towering mountains, deep caverns, rolling seas. They were all just outside my window, waiting for me to explore.

Clouds are magic. Here and gone. Changed beyond recognition in an instant, or so slowly that you can’t point out the precise moment when the giraffe became a sailing ship.

And the textures. Thick layers of softness, or thin sheets that shimmer like moiré silk, or tufts that feather into sky, into nothingness.

Before the state border a long thin eel crossed the sky, one sharply defined side dissolving into loose wisps. Closer to home I realized the eel was the edge of a great funnel shape, so wide it covered the sky, black and grey and ropy. By the time I turned off the freeway it was gone, vanished into the coming night.

A perfect weekend, made just a little more perfect by the intangible.

We talk about a lot of things here…

Being gentle with ourselves, and the importance of small adjustments towards alignment.

Experiments in happiness and what does adventure mean, anyway?

What can happen when you say "Yes" and what might be waiting outside your front door.

And of course, why pretending to be a pterodactyl is good business.


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