Archive for the ‘Journal’ Category

Thorium Dreams

I’m in an industrial compound. To one side, a hothouse, its windows covered with steamy vapor. On the other, an icehouse whose outer walls are rimed with frost. One of the workers is opening a blast furnace with a long flexible contraption of dark blue rubber fit with gears and faucet handles that extends his grip and guards him from the heat. But I’m getting nervous. Someone has just cleared a patch of ground, exposing a long-buried rectangular doorway with steps leading down into the earth, from which a cold blue glow emits. On the threshold are etched the words: THORIUM STORAGE. I start backing away slowly, thinking that this is a good time to leave.

The word “thorium” got into my thoughts for no good reason the other day. This is what comes of it.  (I don’t even have mining skills.  I’m a simple gatherer of herbs.)
UPDATE: I admit, I’ve also been thinking of Dejah Thoris and her hometown of Helium. Maybe that figures into it.

Virginians for The Virginian

Hey, Virg!We stayed in a funky little cabin at this resort in Winthrop, Washington, several nights ago:

The Virginian

There were Gideon Bibles in every room, but not a single copy of The Virginian, or even a videotape of any one of the numerous movies based on the book. Winthrop earns its place in literary history by somehow inspiring the novel that supposedly gave birth to the Western genre. When I suggested that motel guests might enjoy passing idle motel moments thumbing a copy of the very book that gave the cabin complex its name, the proprietor gave me a somewhat blank and bemused stare. But if you care to send a threadbare thriftstore copy to stock the motel library, I’m sure they wouldn’t object. Or, since they offer wifi, you can read it here while slouching on a springshot naugahyde sofabed:

The Virginian Online

Winthrop is currently swathed in smoke from the 100,000 acre Tripod Fire and everything came home smelling like a campfire. Conveniently, there is a smoke-jumper base situated right outside town, somewhere past the also-convenient Sullivan Cemetary, where many of the grave markers are etched with images of their occupants heading off into pristine mountains on horseback, a vision of the afterlife which I find more evocative than most.

In the evening, the town fills with smoke jumpers eating ice cream. We drove out to the Electrical Co-op and parked there in the night to watch the fires burning on the far side of a near ridge, until we started to worry we had attracted the attention of suspicious locals who parked nearby as if to keep an eye on us. Later I thought they were probably, like us, watching the fire. It is a constant presence above the town, a preoccupation as well as an actual occupation for many of Winthrop’s residents.

And the smoke has followed us home. We saw a burnt sienna pall above the mountains East of Monroe yesterday.