Tenacity of the vine

The vine in the rockThis was such a cool discovery! It is both a model of design, with all those zigzagging textures, and the actual event, a wisteria vine too stubborn to quit.

When the plant found itself blocked, it changed direction not once but several times. And it isn’t a young whippersnapper of a vine. Take a look at the thickness of girth–this plant has been here for years, patiently finding a path through difficult situations and creating beauty in the process.

As I grow older, things that were once easy for me are sometimes harder to accomplish. But I have grown in wisdom through my experiences. I have become the guru of “work arounds.”

My parents of pioneer stock would be proud.

You are never too old to set another goal
or to dream a new dream.

~Aristotle~

Useful trials and errors

Gila Woodpecker Nest

I was walking one morning and discovered in an old sycamore snag, this entrance to a Gila woodpecker nest. The birds are opportunists and will dig out rotten bark to make a soft, protective nest for their young.

What struck me about this opening, though, were the number of false starts that surround it. The bird didn’t immediately say, ah, here, I will build my home. Instead, view the number of beginnings and first attempts that surround it.

Perhaps we should be more like the woodpecker. For each creative endeavor that we try, there will be several tentative jabs and pokes until we find our true stride!

Sculpture is the art of intelligence.
~Pablo Picasso

 

Book Review: Racing to the Finish by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Racing to the FinishI love books where I sense the amazing complexity of human experience. RACING TO THE FINISH, a memoir by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., NASCAR racer, is such a book.

Let me start by saying I’m not a NASCAR fan. I’ve never been to a race, although I’ve seen them on television. Who can forget the sight of those cars zooming around the track at the Daytona 500?

There are crashes galore in this book. For example Dale describes this one at the Talladega Speedway in Alabama:

“It started a chain reaction that would end up wrecking twenty-five cars…Tony got sideways, fell out of the lead, and slid helplessly up into our pack. He was hit simultaneously by two oncoming cars and flipped into the air…He sailed by me as I started braking to keep from hitting anyone too hard as cars were out of control and all over the place right in front of me. As we all kept sliding and other cars kept smashing into each other…

…When you’re in the Big One, you’re just like a boat stuck in a storm. You can react and steer and dig all you want, but really, you’re just praying for the best. You have little or no control. It’s just screeches and smoke and chaos. What you don’t want to hear is that crunch, that smack that tells you that you’ve been hit.”

What spectators miss is what happens next. Like heavy-weight boxers or professional football players, race car drivers are at extreme risk for traumatic brain injury. And, like other professional sports players, these injuries often go unreported for fear of losing jobs or being considered a coward or weakling. It’s a strange world out there.

The motto from his family seemed to be, “just put a washcloth over it,” or “tape an aspirin to it” and keep on racing. Dale was different, though, in that he started keeping a journal on his iPhone of the symptoms he was experiencing after these crashes that were considered part of his job.

Through the book the reader experiences both sides of his physical and emotional world: the extreme highs of fast-speed track racing and the aftermath of pain and confusion after a bad crash.

In journal entries Dale describes the post-race symptoms:

“Thursday I felt hung over and frustrated all day…Friday, I seemed to wake up really slow and feel groggy and not sharp…The three different hits into the wall that Sunday were 20, 13, and 23 Gs…There’s a lot of things I do today that frustrate me. Mid-sentence, not being able to find the words to finish. ..when in vocal conversation I choose the wrong word or can’t find the word to complete my thought, that makes me so sad and scared.”

Dale gets the help he needs to retrain his brain, but then re-injures it and has to start over again.

He was unstintingly honest about what he did, and why. When he eventually retired, it was to a celebration of people who loved him.

An uplifting book with a strong message for all of us. I thoroughly relished going along for the ride.

Growing older, cactus style

Picture of saguaro cactus

Isn’t this a great saguaro cactus? I found it in one of the mountainous parks in the middle of Phoenix. One of the marvelous things about that burg is that there are SEVEN mountain peaks you can climb, right within city limits. I’ve been up most of them, and they can be a tough scramble.

Back to the saguaro. Did you know they don’t even start putting out limbs until they are 50 years old? By that tally, I’d estimate this cactus is pushing a hundred–or more. Not moving, just standing there tough, watching the world go by. You’ve got to appreciate patience like that.

~Don’t give up!
Good things take time,
and you’re getting there.

~Anonymous~

The Cat Magician

cat in a bowl

The platter was small. The ceramic was hard and unbalanced. But my friend, Mackie, knew this bowl would make a perfect nest.

Who cared if it was hard? He has enough fur to line it himself. Who cared if it was tippy? A mere walk in the park for a determined cat with four sure feet and a balancing, furry tail.

Sometimes the nest adapts to us, and sometimes we adapt to the nest!

~Let’s begin by taking a smallish nap or two.~
~Winnie-the-Pooh~

Keep on Trucking

keep on trucking

Every Thursday night our local Wendy’s donates their lot space to a classic car show. The guys (and it’s always the guys) arrive in the early afternoon, bring out their dust rags and start polishing ol’ Betsy for the show. Most of these vehicles get driven oh, fifty miles a month, back and forth to car shows.

My father-in-law, though, was a Master Mechanic during his lifetime. He had one vehicle, an old ’47 Chevy pickup, that he drove back and forth to work, on late night call-outs, and down to the parts store. He used to brag he’d never have a Ford in his driveway (Fix-Or-Repair-Daily he called them), but that he’d installed three engines in this Chevy and it was still running like a well-tuned watch.

He said that if you took care of things, they took care of you.

Recently, a family member took her computer in for repair, again. The tech told her that any more there is a “planned obsolescence” in computers–that if they last two years without turning into a boat anchor, you should consider yourself lucky.

I wonder what my father-in-law and his old truck would say to that.

I’d like to be a truck driver. I think you could run your life that way. It wouldn’t be such a bad way of doing it. It would offer a chance to be alone.
~Princess Anne of England