Poem by George Bilgere

This was the poem of the day on Writer’s Almanac and it really struck a chord. Thought I’d put it here so that I didn’t lose it. It’s amazing and wonderful that we can catch up with friends and loved ones while dining alone in a cafe, it’s comforting not to have to eat alone. But then, maybe those are just blinders. Maybe there is a cost to being immersed too. Maybe one of the great things about Yosemite is that your cell phone doesn’t work have the time, and you have to put it down and look around.

Bridal Shower

by George Bilgere

Perhaps, in a distant café,
four or five people are talking
with the four or five people
who are chatting on their cell phones this morning
in my favorite café.

And perhaps someone there,
someone like me, is watching them as they frown,
or smile, or shrug
at their invisible friends or lovers,
jabbing the air for emphasis.

And, like me, he misses the old days,
when talking to yourself
meant you were crazy,
back when being crazy was a big deal,
not just an acronym
or something you could take a pill for.

I liked it
when people who were talking to themselves
might actually have been talking to God
or an angel.
You respected people like that.

You didn’t want to kill them,
as I want to kill the woman at the next table
with the little blue light on her ear
who has been telling the emptiness in front of her
about her daughter’s bridal shower
in astonishing detail
for the past thirty minutes.

O person like me,
phoneless in your distant café,
I wish we could meet to discuss this,
and perhaps you would help me
murder this woman on her cell phone,

after which we could have a cup of coffee,
maybe a bagel, and talk to each other,
face to face.

Badger Pass powder

Tom Feb 14
Tom skiing
With all the snow that has been falling lately in Yosemite, Tom and I have been taking advantage of having Badger Pass basically in our backyard. Even on weekends that we have dedicated to working on house projects, we can often manage to sneak in a least a few turns. Not only has the snow been falling, but it’s been falling low and light, which makes for excellent skiing.

On a personal note, this year I’m starting to feel like it would be OK again for me to get shaken up a little bit, and take a few falls, if you know what I mean. I’m still pretty tentative, but on a relative basis it’s a huge step up from where I was last year. When the snow was firmer I got in a few runs on the NASTAR course, trying to go as fast as I could, and now I’m hitting some rougher terrain with more confidence, and taking some falls. I keep thinking it would be fun to ski some steeps in Tahoe one of these weekends, but of course there is always so much to do.

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Skate skiing before work

Getting the skate skis out in the dark
Getting the skate skis out in the dark
I admit it. When we pulled into the Badger Pass parking lot this morning, in the dark, I had serious reservations about this being the right time to go for a skate ski. But, we had done the backward calculation, and figured this was when we needed to start to make it in to work at a reasonable hour. The car thermometer said 15°F, which is a fair bit chillier than the 35° that we are used to around here. We hadn’t waxed the skis, being lazy and accustomed to the speedy spring conditions we were having, so that meant skating was a lot harder than usual as well. We skied part way down the hill toward Bridalveil Campground. Normally that is a nice turn-around point, but I stopped early – in fear of the slow conditions and the return climb.

Theresa returning to the car, post skate, with frosty braids
Theresa returning to the car, post skate

Half-way through the ski, our faces, ears, fingers and toes were uncomfortably cold or numb, but the sun started to come out, and the sky had ribbons of pink and purple in it. During a short break, I realized that bird song was everywhere. Someday I’ll learn to recognize what kinds they were. And there were fresh tracks in the snow from coyotes and squirrels.

By the time we got back to the car, I’d gotten a nice workout, and was really enjoying the morning. It was still cold though. If you look carefully at this picture, you can see that my braids are all frosty from the cold air. Tom raced back to the car to grab the camera (and the new 50mm f/1.8 lens we just got on Monday), to take pictures.

Yosemite West coyote
Yosemite West coyote
We thawed out in the car on the drive back to our house in Yo West, and were treated to a beautiful coyote sighting. He seemed very preoccupied with something on the other side of the road, and stood still to pose while we snapped pictures. I love the Yosemite coyotes, and I think we’ve been seeing this one roaming the neighborhood for several months at least. He didn’t seem to think we were important at all – either as a threat or as a source of handouts – which is always nice to see. But I think he was happy when we finally pulled away and he could return to the road instead of falling through the deeper snow.

Then, just to top off the morning, I paused at Sentinel Bridge pull-out again to revisit the rainbow that visits around 8:30 each day. It’s like we’re becoming friends, that rainbow and I. I haven’t been stopping, the last few days, but Yosemite Falls was iced up in a beautiful fan pattern, that was already starting to come down as it got warmer out, and I was having such a great morning I decided to stop and take some more pictures. Tom and I keep promising ourselves that one day we’ll hike up the Upper Falls trail one chilly morning and hang out at Indica Point (Oh My Gosh Point) to watch the ice come crashing down.

Yosemite Falls with ice, and Brother Rainbow
Yosemite Falls with ice, and Brother Rainbow
Not too bad for a working day! It brings me back to being grateful for all the things that make my life so wonderful. An early morning ski with my favorite person in the world, skate skis, sunrise, frosty braids, cameras, new lenses, coyotes, waterfalls, rainbows, and, yes, even the job that got me out of bed at an unreasonable hour so that I could have a great morning like this.

New Yamaha YDP233 Piano

I have a new piano! I have a new piano!

I’ve only been wanting one for, lets see, 19 years or so. Basically since I moved out of my parents’ home and went to college. Unlike a piccolo, or even a guitar, pianos don’t lend themselves to moving around or small spaces, so it’s never really been a reasonable purchase. Until now.

… and I’m so happy with the model that we decided on. Growing up with a ‘real piano’, I have developed a certain minimum set of requirements – no truncated keyboards (this one is a full 88-key keyboard) and it has to *feel* like a piano. On the other hand, I didn’t want to break the bank either.

Playing is a real pleasure. My parents sent me a stack of my old music. Plus, the Yamaha YDP233 comes with a book of popular classical pieces (which you can hear before you play as part of the demo function). I’m rusty, of course, and my hands aren’t ‘in shape’ for extended playing. The first two nights I played until my fingers and forearms ached (typing was difficult the next morning). I’m sure it will come eventually though.

I surprised myself by using the metronome feature right of the bat. My old teacher, Mrs. Whitehead, would be proud. I’ve never done more counting than absolutely necessary, and sometimes less than necessary, but found that it was an interesting game to stay in time with the built-in metronome.
I also did scales, and wished that I remembered more piano theory. Eh – so I’ve changed since high school. Who’d have thunk?

Now, I just need to get some headphones so that I don’t torture Tom into regretting the purchase. 🙂

National Geographic likes me

[Written by Tom]

Much to my surprise, National Geographic is buying one of my pictures to use on the cover of one of its Trails Illustrated maps. They are doing a new series of maps of Yosemite that will divide the park into four quadrants and do a high-quality, fairly large-scale map (50′ contour intervals) for park and they were in need of images for each of the four quadrants. My friend Tuan supplied a nice image of Nevada Falls to them for the Yosemite Valley (SW) quadrant. The were initially interested in a picutre I had of Tuolumne for the NE quad, but ended up buying a picture of a stunning spur on Mount Clark for the SE quadrant.

They said they were looking for images that were a bit less familiar because the focus is on backcountry travelers, and this one requires a solid 20 mile hike to get to (that’s 40 miles round trip) with some miles of it off trail, so it fit their bill.

See the Obelisk Lake Photo Gallery for other pictures of the area.