Sunday, January 9, 2011

What Do You Got?

I don’t think of myself as snitty about grammar. Yes, I have a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing, but I don’t sit around critiquing friends’ emails and Facebook posts. I don’t use red pen on student homework unless it’s the only thing I can find in the bottom of my granny purse or the cobwebby corner of a desk drawer. In a moment of haste, I too have inadvertently typed “it’s” for “its,” or lost my way in the thicket of there, their, they’re.
She who has not split an infinitive cast the first stone.
That said, I do enjoy moments when language shows evidence of bending in a way its authors did not intend. It’s a surefire stay against boredom. The world is replete with these delightful gaffes, such as those chronicled in the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotations.
This morning, a high school’s marquee flashed: “Come here / wonderful music.” I didn’t pause to read the other screens, which must have included info about an upcoming concert. I liked that the first screen was, in fact, a curling index finger beckoning “wonderful music” to visit the school. Come here!

I found this henna tattoo stencil at the Purple Moon (full of crystals,
geodes, bamboo plants, incense, scimitars and wind chimes)
in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho.

Just before New Year’s, John and I spent a couple of days in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho (about 2.5 hours from Salt Lake City, and with a little bit of a detour, it can be en route to the Tetons). The temperature outside dropped to single digits, but most of the pools were over 100 degrees. It’s hard not to relax when the steam from the pools mingles with strings of Christmas lights and frosted tree branches overhead. Your feet tingle when you first get in the water because you’re so cold and it’s so hot. Then you chug your Nalgene because you’re so toasty. Your hair freezes on your head. Your boyfriend says “your chin hairs have ice crystals on them” and you don’t get mad or even embarrassed because these mineral waters have healing properties. By now you’re lasagna, and lasagna noodles don’t get mad or embarrassed. Yes, you have chin hairs. Some of them are downy, and some are bristles from the sea-hag’s hairbrush. In a place as magical as Lava Hot Springs, though, your frosted chain hair just gives you more shine.

When we left Lava, we stopped in Soda Springs, Idaho, to see the world’s only manmade geyser. It spouts on the hour every hour. The geyser and visitors center share a parking lot with the Dog House bar. One of the observation decks was decorated with a wooden nativity scene and a tinsel star of David. John and I had some time to kill before the next eruption, so we shared a pint at the Dog House and looked at the taxidermy deer heads and the dollar bills taped to the wall like bricks, each with a handwritten message, many of them documenting the passing of a birthday or success in consuming a specified and impresive quantity of alcohol. One dollar bill near the Michelob mirror posed a question that’s been heavy on my mind: WITHOUT FAMILY, WHAT DO YOU GOT? 


  1. How did the man-made geyser compare with Old Faithful?

  2. The geyser was a younger cousin of Old Faithful, but it had just as much heart. It's one of the wonders of Soda Springs (we missed the other one: the Monsanto slag heap. Better to see it at night, they say. Next time!)