The magic of being still

Bow tie for the pond

Every now and then, nature presents us with a joke, if we are only receptive enough to catch it. Here, I found a perfect bow tie in the middle of the Dead Horse Park lagoon. Just waiting for someone to turn it around and paste it onto a beautiful package.

Or perhaps, it already was the ideal present, just waiting to be untied!

The universe is full of magic things patiently waiting for our senses to go sharper.
~Eden Phillpotts~

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~

In the midst of winter

aspen grove in summer

One of the true joys of photography is that it refreshes the mind’s eye with things half-remembered, yet totally true.

This picture of an aspen grove was taken one hot summer morning. The hiker and her dog ahead of me are enjoying the beautiful summer weather with me, a light breeze blowing, the heat on our shoulders. It reminds me that although winter is with us, it won’t last forever.

It seems to me that our minds travel in a straight-line projection of the future most of the time. If things are good, they’ll be that way forever, our imagination insists. Or worse, if they are BAD, they will only get worse. That’s the way it always happens.

Or does it?

In addition to a “Gratitude Journal” I sometimes keep an anxiety list to review from time to time. What I have discovered is that the things I worry about most rarely come to pass.

What a waste of good brain cells, to worry so!

Things are getting faster and faster
and stranger and stranger
and it’s almost comforting to think that
some sort of crystal moment will arrive
and a new order will snap out
and suddenly
everything will be different.

~William Gibson, science fiction author~

 

Halt, stop, cease and desist

fire hydrant traffic cop

I stopped to take a picture of this old fire hydrant because I was fascinated by the number of coats of paint covering it. I can see red, yellow, black and blue at least, maybe more. The hydrant’s been there a long time and I wonder if it’s ever been put to the test with a real fire.

Then I looked closer. It almost appears to be a traffic cop, holding those three pumpkins at bay.

And then look even closer. See the blue bottle cap? Always some smart aleck ready to challenge authority!

Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.
~Albert Camus~

The delight of winter water

Clear Creek at Flood Stage

Imagine standing by this water on a crisp winter day as the rush of cold breeze caresses your face.

This is the Verde Valley’s Clear Creek at flood stage. In a normal flow, water is half this volume, but the creek bed anticipates change. Over the millennia the water has hollowed out a wide swath of normally dry land, preparing for potential that only happens once or twice a season. The trees standing in water are patient, knowing the snow melt from the San Francisco Peaks will eventually pass.

For the desert, this ebb and flow of the water passage is as inevitable as breath itself.

We, too, breathe in and out, allowing room for the intake gasp of surprise and that deep outward sigh of satisfaction.

Snow, snow over the whole land
across all boundaries.

The candle burned on the table,
the candle burned.

~Boris Pasternak~

The texture of potential

Colored pencils in a cup

This picture is on my computer screen saver right now. It’s not an extraordinary photograph but it contains everything I like: a coaster for my coffee, a cup with cats on it, light for reading, and an image-within-an-image of sunshine.

When I view it, I enjoy its textures: the roughness of the sandstone block, the glossiness of the ceramic, the coolness of the stone lamp base, the deep smooth of the leather insert.

I taste the coffee on my tongue and relish the potential of the pen collection. What can I make today?

When we pay attention, pleasures do not need to be dramatic. Sometimes the commonplace suits, just fine!

I am neither an optimist nor pessimist,
but a possibilist.

~Max Lerner~

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~

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.

The wisdom of a cat

Cat stretching

My cat Foxy is indulging in two of her favorite things, stretching and sunshine! I get vicarious pleasure watching her enjoy life in the moment.

I wish I could stretch like she does. I wish I had her sense of time standing still.

The most beautiful thing in the world
is, of course, the world itself.

~Wallace Stevens~

Layers of water

Layers of water

I’m sure there’s a scientific term for the refractions and reflections present in water, but to me those layers of water are endlessly fascinating. Whenever I get near a pond or a creek, my photographer’s fingers get itchy!

Perhaps it is the paradox of something so clear and transparent being able to reflect light back into our eyes in such a striking manner. It’s like seeing something twice, or three times, or four.

I think it is very difficult to figure out
where things come from. The only explanation
I’m able to give is in one word. That is “energy.”
Sometimes it’s destructive.
Sometimes it’s beautiful,
more creative, more rarefied.

~Dale Chihuly~