These are snippets of journal entries from my trip to Kitt Peak in April. I don't know that I've ever posted diary excerpts like this, but I wanted to share some of the photos, and didn't really know what to write to accompany them. So here goes...
Friday, April 27, 2018
I wish I were a painter. Because I would love to paint my favorite view of Baboquivari in between those two pine trees behind the Hiltner telescope. I can't believe I'm sitting behind this dome again. It feels like no time has passed now that I am back, but these two years seemed so long. Ohhh I've missed this place so much!
Saturday, April 28, 2018
I've been reading Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit, and her whole philosophy about creativity is that it doesn't usually come zapping out of the sky like some bolt of lightning. It comes from working at it. From practice. From showing up regularly at your medium. Which requires discipline, which, in theory, will eventually become a habit. What is my problem lately? All I seem to want to do is sew and garden... what happened to photography? Music? Writing?
(Hmmm... I realize that in the three months that have passed since I wrote this, my creative slump has passed. Maybe all that gardening and sewing helped move it along? In her book, Twyla also writes about the process of "scratching"... that pre-making time where you're mulling over ideas, fishing out good ones, trying things out in your brain. You might not realize it's happening, and it feels like you're not doing anything "productive." Family might think you're being lazy. I think this is where I've been.)
Twyla mentions that Beethoven went for a walk every morning and scribbled ideas that came to him in a little notebook, then came back and got to work on his projects. One of the gals in the writing workshop I took talked about something called a "commonplace book", which is basically, yeah, Beethoven's little notebook. Someplace to write snippets of overheard conversations, ideas for projects, sketches & doodles—whatever—so that they're all there in one place like a little treasure box. I use my journal for all of that, but the gems are always buried under stupid daily drama and outpourings, and I forget they're in there.
Sunday, April 29, 2018
I am outside next to a little piney shrub who is kindly providing me with some dappled shade to lessen the glare of this paper. Full-on shade is too cold, but sun-on-white at 7000 feet is positively blinding. 2pm... it is blustery-windy today and sooo much colder than yesterday. The wind is coming from every direction! I didn't bring enough warm clothes. And no socks!
Monday, April 30, 2018
I was thanked in an official astronomical announcement! Ha! Last night, There was a star that burst forth a bunch of cosmic stuff and apparently it was quite the big deal. Don and I got to observe it for half an hour just after sunset. I got to type commands into the computer while Don analyzed results on another computer. For this—what a hoot!—I was given an honorable mention in the report. Sometimes I feel like Ferris Bueller. It sounds like something he might have added to his amazing day: somehow getting thanked for his (minimal) assistance in some scientific paper.
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
This morning I woke up at 5:30 and instead of going back to sleep I just got up. I am so glad I did! Clouds were streaking past the building, rolling and swooping right outside the big windows in the lounge. I went for a walk with my camera (sadly, none of my photos captured the magic) and came back to write. It felt good! That walk, that creative time, even if I didn't have anything to "show" for it. My friend Elizabeth says that's how she starts her days when she's at an artist residency: Get up, go for a photography-walk, come back & get to work. Beethoven was onto something.
Thursday, May 3, 208
I woke up a few times during the night last night. The moon was bright and the dome was open, scooping up far-away starlight. I'd hear it rumble now and then as it turned to find a new window for the telescope. I like being snuggled in my blankets, about to fall asleep, knowing that a mountain full of telescopes are awake, watching the sky, doing what they do. It reminds me of being a little kid, going to bed while my parents' dinner party was still in full-swing downstairs.
3:45pm. The Ledge.
It is so quiet and perfect. A wind is picking up, winding its way through the boulders and trees, but other than that, hardly a sound. A bug. Echoey bird calls— warblers maybe? A car driving up the mountain. I realized that part of why I love the ledge so much is that it feels like I'm in a diorama. All those field trips to the American Museum of Natural History in New York when I was in grade school. The dioramas looked so real, I thought if I stared long enough I'd catch a fox winking at me.
(later, just before sunset) The mountainsides look lush in the low light. Velvety brown flocked with dusty green trees. I would like to make a dress that looks like this. With a silver ribbon road and sparkly beads for the gray rocks that dot the bottom of the cliffs.
What is it about this place that I love so much? It's the quiet immenseness, for sure. But it's also that it's the land time forgot— these old buildings with now-retro furniture. But mostly it's that all through the wee hours these telescopes carry on, peering into the depths of space and then sleeping all day long. Like some mythical creature—creatures—doing miraculous work in the dark of night and then quietly folding themselves up, tucking themselves away, out of sight, when dawn breaks. It's like having someone say, shhh, come this way... and they lead you through the woods to a field where you squint into the shadows and... wait!... there comes a unicorn. How many times in your life do you get to see that? Every time I come up here.
Thank you, Eric, Tony, Don, and the powers that be at the MDM.