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
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~
Several years ago I was privileged to be part of a group that did volunteer gardening at a former artist’s home called Eliphante. It wasn’t easy to get to. Here you see us pulling across on a rope tow, from the little town of Cornville in Arizona.
For 28 years, Eliphantewas the home for artists Michael Kahn and Leda Levant. Together they created a magical village, now closed to the public. It is filled with hobbit-like houses, the most amazing art, and a wonderful fount of creativity. You can see some examples of the environment at the home website here. The site is now an official non-profit, so donations are welcome!
The experience has haunted me all of these years and finally today, I begin work on the new Pegasus Quincy novel set, in part, at Eliphante. The working title is Malice in Eliphante, or MIE for short.
Over the next several months I’ll be posting periodic reports on how I am doing with this new writing adventure. I invite you to follow me from start to finish as this new Pegasus Quincy mystery evolves and comes to life.
What is interesting about double rainbows, like this one I caught over Sedona, Arizona, is that the second rainbow is reversed. It starts with red and progresses to violet on the other side. The second is also softer in hue, and very rare. They just don’t occur frequently.
The second rainbow reminds me of quiet people, those shy individuals who don’t choose to speak up often. When they do reveal their inner selves–wow, so amazing. Worth the wait!
~When you are beside me my heart sings.
A branch it is, dancing before the Wind Spirit
in the moon of strawberries.~ ~Objiway love song~
My parents and their parents were children of the Depression. They saved string, wore hand-me-down clothes, and ate left-overs–ALL of them! A favorite expression was “Making Do.”
Native American families before the age of supermarkets and department stores did the same thing. In this picture you’ll see, on the right, a healthy agave cactus. Vivid green, with sharp spines at the end of the stalks.
But on the left, you’ll see something even more important. Notice those beautiful fibers that remain when the plant dies? They can be used to make sandals, weave baskets, line baby cradles. Making do.
Because of our routines,
we sometimes forget that life is a
an ongoing adventure.
I’m a crocheter rather than a knitter, but this exuberant bundle caught my eye when I visited a yarn shop in Jerome, Arizona.
And then I realized if I bought it, I’d have to keep it that way forever, never made into a project. Because, can you imagining unraveling a piece of work if you made a mistake, say, eight inches down?
Some things are just not made for a do-over.
You know you knit too much when you put your computer keyboard on the floor while reading your daily emails so you can hit the space bar with your toe to scroll through them while knitting. ~Stephanie Pearl-McPhee~
Can you tell what this thing is? I couldn’t either, but it looked cool. I was spending the afternoon with a friend at the University of Michigan Property Disposition Department, 41 million square feet of warehouse space filled with a few odds and ends.
There were the expected 16 dozen used clay-colored steel case files (I guess professors swap them out for NEW clay-colored steel case files every year or so), desks, old computer CPUs, and such.
But the big kahoona of finds was the scientific equipment room. Talk about the mother lode of stuff you have no idea what it is (or was, 49 years ago) used for. Like this highly-calibrated, brass thing-a-ma-gig, complete with fun house reflections. I want one!
Curiosity’s like a fun friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you
to make it on your own. ~Haruki Murakami~
Old historic buildings in Sedona were often constructed of red sandstone. And skilled craftsmen paid attention to the type red sandstone that they used, for the sandstone was formed by inland seas that rose and retreated. And each time the seas receded, a different type of sandstone was built.
One sediment layer was formed in thin brittle layers of shale while another was the “hold together” sandstone that erodes in soft rounded shapes, similar to Bell Rock near Sedona. If you built a house with the first type, the layers would crumble and shatter, and the house along with it.
I was reminded of that when I visited New Hampshire recently. There, the building rock of choice is granite. The stuff that tombstones are made from.
A house constructed of granite will be there a long time from now. And yet this building material, too, has its own idiosyncratic ways. View the skill it must have taken to construct this granite wall over a hundred years ago.
It pays to understand your rock. And to trust the skill of your stone mason.
It can be everything to have found a fellow bird
with whom you can sit among the rafters while
the drinking and boasting
and reciting and fighting
go on below. ~Wallace Stegner~
In the back room of a dressmakers shop lived a row of paper patterns. Some had yellowed with age, but the fingers of the seamstress unerringly drew the pattern she wanted from the collection. She knew them all by heart. They were familiar friends.
We all have our own row of familiar patterns. I know which cup I’ll choose for my morning coffee, which Internet news website I’ll read first. My fingers reach for that favorite T-shirt to wear when the stack is fresh from the wash.
Just as there is growth in newness and surprise, there is comfort in predictability. We need both in our life to thrive.
I am an idealist.
I don’t know where I’m going
but I’m on my way. ~Carl Sandburg~