An eye for rust

Artful decay

As an aficionado of texture, when I came upon this old shack, I was in seventh heaven. Consider that great rusty barrel, the rain-stained wood, the stovepipe hanging at an angle, that old window missing one pane, the tattered, rusting side-panels. It was perfect!

And then I discovered why is was perfect. It’s not real. This sheep herder’s cabin, nestled among a grove of eucalyptus trees, is a carefully constructed movie set. All that rust is man-made, as was the angle of the stovepipe and the metal patches about to fall to the ground. All were built with an eye toward illusion.

I decided I liked it anyway. How could I not admire an artist with an eye for rust!

And now we welcome the new year.
Full of things that have never been.
~Rainer Maria Rilke~

 

Enter the resourceful agave

Spider web in agave plant

The sharp tips of the giant agave are there for a purpose–to fend off predators such as javelina and hungry cattle intent on a juicy meal.

Too bad somebody didn’t tell the spiders, who found the spines to be perfect tent poles for their webs. Or the wind, who discovered the web to be a perfect receptacle for some spare leaves just blowing around.

It is nice to find something that can be put to more than one useful purpose. Nature is resourceful that way.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering
is to save all the parts.

~Paul Ehrlich~

The Marie Kondo of the insect world

termite skyscrapers

In the desert, termite colonies thrive. It never gets cold enough to kill them, and sometimes there may be as many as twenty colonies in a yard–or under a house!

After a recent rain, I found these two Lilliputian skyscrapers in a stream bed. Although the water had dried out on the surface, underneath, there was just enough moisture in the earth to allow these tiny bits of sand to cling together when the termites carried them out of their home.

The efficiency of the termite colony is amazing. The insects carry the grains just far enough from the opening that sand doesn’t fall back into the burrow, thus building these tiny mounds. How do they know how to do such an amazing task?

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
~William Morris~

 

Luminous reflections

Liquid shadows

Who says shadows need to be hum-drum. Or even dark, for that matter. I discovered these reflections in an old building, where glass tiles threw a shifting pattern of light reflections on a dark brick wall. Their shimmering pattern of light delighted me!

When we get locked into looking at an object in one way, for example, grass is green or the sun is yellow, we really don’t see what is in front of us, all the time.

If at a child’s birth, a mother could ask a fairy godmother
to endow it with the most useful gift,
that gift would be curiosity.

~Eleanor Roosevelt~

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

 

The reality of art

Reality imitating art

The Phoenix Art Museum has a wonderful wing devoted to installation art, modern art, post-modern art. Imagine my surprise when I viewed this picture, looked for the artist’s name, and discovered it wasn’t “art” at all, but rather a shadowed window into the museum loggia. Great fun!

 There’s a saying among prospectors. Go out looking for one thing, and that’s all you’ll find.
~Robert Flaherty, explorer~

Accepting the inevitable

T-P the house

Can you just sense the sinuous curl in the paper as it drifts from the trees?

It was breezy the day I took this picture, (and no, I was neither participant nor recipient!) and I shared for a moment in the feeling of exuberance the streamers portrayed.

Then I thought about what I’d do if this were my house. Those trees are tall and there is no way I’d be climbing a tall ladder in the windy weather to retrieve the strands. I could pull on the rolls, but I am sure they would obligingly break at the nearest perforation–that’s how they are designed.

I could find the kids that did it, and persuade them not to ever, ever do it again. I could wait for my own teenagers to grow up so they wouldn’t encourage it.

OR, I could just laugh and wave as cars drove past.

We’ve all been there, in moments we’d rather forget and can’t undo, and wished we were a million miles away from, and aren’t. Sometimes the only thing to do is accept the situation–and pray for rain!

~Each day brings its own gifts.~
~Marcus Aurelius~

 

 

 

All good things come in threes

I encountered these three roof lines in a historical district near the Phoenix Art Museum. They look alike, but are quite different.

Each is painted a slightly variant shade of blue. The windows they shelter are different. The supporting posts are lodged at different points on the roof. The third bears a chimney and a different medallion at the peak. It is almost as though each has proclaimed their own individuality, although staying related.

It’s like human triplets. I’ve often wondered about the practice of dressing identical triplets exactly alike. And then I hear that even then, mothers can tell them apart, knowing them so well from before birth.

We are all alike, and we are all different. And that’s okay!

The walls we build around ourselves
to keep out sadness
also keep out joy.

~Jim Rohn~