Tag Archives: Arizona

Trip to Moab

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that my hubby’s aunt had died and they were having a memorial service for her in Moab which we were considering attending.

Since it was “only” a nine-hour drive (without stops) we decided it was doable and left early Friday morning, heading out of Tucson fairly early. The memorial service was Saturday, and we drove home Sunday. With stops, the trip was twelve hours. Which wasn’t bad, but left both of us pretty tired Monday. I did nothing but lie around and it wasn’t until Tuesday that I began to put things away, try to get caught up on the things that didn’t get done and fuss about my rose bush.

I’d asked the neighbor to water, which she’s done many times before but somehow a soap can lid fell down behind the gate she needed to open and got it jammed so she couldn’t get in. Talk about weird… The result was that neither of the roses got watered for two days, during which our humidity was something like 13% or lower and the dew point was practically zero. One of them was droopy but recovered. The other lost almost all its leaves. It was very, very sad.

But after watering, fertilizing and laying down some mulch, it looks like it will survive… new leaves are now sprouting, so I’m happy about that.

In any case, that along with all the other things, which seem like nothing but end up taking up the minutes, took most of my time last week. Plus, Monday was Memorial Day and my hubby was home… so not only did I lack the time, quiet space and mental energy to write a blog post, I did no work on Sky either. I’m hoping to get back to it tomorrow, however.

For now, I thought I’d share some shots I took from our trip.

Quigley likes to rest his head on my shoulder or Stu's hand looking out the front window while we travel

Quigley likes to rest his head on my shoulder or Stu’s hand looking out the front window while we travel

monument valley trashed small

Traveling through Monument Valley I was shocked to see the rash of the white trailers and various structures which had sprung up at the bases of the rock formations. From a distance it looked like a scattering of trash. If only they’d painted their trailers and structures a color more like the surroundings… Ah well, I guess there’s no place left that’s immune to development these days. Maybe the Sahara Desert. Or the Gobi…

Redrock cliffs in the waning sunlight as we neared Moab

Redrock cliffs in the waning sunlight as we neared Moab

Driveway and cliff view from the house of hubby's relations where we stayed.

Driveway and cliff view from the house of hubby’s relations where we stayed.

Fabulous log fence and field of yellow flowers nearby.

Fabulous log fence and field of yellow flowers nearby.

Amazing cottonwood tree on the grounds of our hosts

Amazing cottonwood tree on the grounds of our hosts

my poor sad, dried up rose as it looked when we first returned...

my poor sad, dried up rose as it looked when we first returned…


swaths of gold small

If I am to liken writing a book to fighting a battle, or preparing to build or whatever, it is important that one count the cost. To do the recon first. If you send soldiers out into the field and tell them okay, I want you to explore all this region and map it for us, since we have no map, and I want you complete that in three weeks – that would be a ridiculous assignment. No one knows what’s out there. A more reasonable assignment would be to send the people out to map for a particular period of time. Then evaluate what they have and decide the next step. External factors may demand decisions be made on less than complete information, whereupon the outcome becomes far less certain.

Might need to have a number of recon assignments before you are ready to launch any kind of operation.

In book writing, you never really know the terrain until you’ve actually written the first draft. You can stand at the edge of the unknown territory and see there’s a mountain there, a valley there, a canyon there. You can surmise what you will find, and you can estimate a route. But until you are actually down there and walking through it, you cannot know how it will go, where it will go, what you will encounter, etc. So I think it is time to plot the book, try the first trip through the wilderness and see where I end up.

Spring in Arizona

Specifically Southern Arizona. 

A couple of weeks ago, (about a week after my surgery, in fact),  I met my editor at a local garden restaurant for lunch. After we finished eating and talking we took our cameras and went around the hummingbird garden taking pictures. The hummingbird garden is one planted with native wildflowers that attract hummingbirds. At the time of our visit, the flowers were all in bloom. I had a blast, and thought I’d share some of the pictures I took.

This next one  is a nesting morning dove. She just sat there not far off the path and let people walk by. Most didn’t notice her, but even when we started taking pictures, she just watched

And now for my favorite of all the shots I got, and the most appropriate for the “hummingbird garden”:

Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us and not we ourselves.
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations.
~Psalm 100

Happy Thanksgiving!

(I’ll be back next week with Part 3 of my Journal Entry series)

A Different Kind of Mourning

Well, we’ve sold my mother’s car, Indian arts, and house (it’s due to close this week) and last Thursday had an estate liquidator come and remove everything we had left and didn’t want. In the meantime, the White Mountains have been burning, which is where we’d planned to hold our private memorial for my mother.

For maybe fifteen years we — me, my mother, sister, husband, son and his friend took an annual trip to the high country of the eastern White Mountains to camp and enjoy the aspens as they turned color. My husband often scouted for elk and we frequently heard them bugling in the night. Since we never stayed in — or even near — an organized campground, our dogs were free to roam. We hiked and sketched and painted and nature watched and cooked. We have many happy memories of those times and the place itself, which, to quote a recent interviewee, was one of the most beautiful on earth.

We stayed in two different places over the years, one not far from the Bear Wallow Campground, which is the campground where they are saying the horrific Wallow Fire began. The second place was near the town of Greer, which was recently overrun by the flames and 22 cabins were lost (to put it into perspective, though, it was 22 out of 500).

In going through my mother’s things last week, I came upon these pictures from our trips there. The first ones, including the one at the top of this post, are from the Bear Wallow location. The  last one with the “family portrait” is from our place near Big Lake, just south of Greer.  (click on any of them to enlarge)

Double Cienega. I painted that stand of aspens out there.

This is from the hillside above the previous meadow as we hiked up to see a bear den Stu had found.

Us in an aspen grove. It was on this walk that I experienced the rain of aspen leaves I wrote about in a scene in The Shadow Within… That’s Adam, MUCH younger than he is now (so are we for that matter!) and the hound was our first, a bloodhound/black and tan cross named Grumpy. He’s the one that sold us on hounds.

Aspens at the top of the hill.

Walking along the road at the top of the hill, on our way to the den…

There’s our camp, at the edge of the trees, looking out across the meadow.

This one was taken several years later at the Big Lake site. Adam on the left is obviously a bit older than he was in the previous shots here and the new hound is Samantha, Grumpy’s replacement. She was also a bloodhound/black and tan cross. Or at least that’s what they told us when we bought her. My mother is on the right.

To hear and see the news reports, it sounds as if all of the above is gone, nothing but charred black stumps, dead snags and scorched ground. Time will tell — there may still be pockets and stands of life and Stu still wants to try going up there, though lodgings may be a bit harder to come by even than before. God will have to work all this out if that’s what He wants us to do.

In the meantime, we mourn the loss of our beautiful special spot in Arizona — and in our lives and memories — grateful we had as many opportunities to enjoy it as we did.

Artist’s Date

The Artist’s Way has two major “tools” as part of its course: the morning pages, which are to be done daily, and the Artist’s Date, which is to be done once a week. To quote from The Artist’s Way Website,” the Artist Date is a one to two-hour block of time set aside weekly for an excursion on your own that celebrates and nurtures your creative self. These excursions or playdates should be festive.”  The book adds, “Think delight, magic, fun. Not duty. Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you. Follow your sense of the mysterious not your sense of what you should know more about.”

Twelve years ago, I bombed out on the Artist Dates for the most part. They seemed silly. How would I ever find the time? I spent a lot of my time alone anyway, what’s the good of taking the time and effort to go somewhere. So I didn’t do them.

Today I went on my second Artist Date since starting this course. I left at 9am and went to a nearby McDonald’s to redeem the rest of a gift card I’d been given for mother’s day — got a small mocha frappe and took it across the street to Reid Park with my sketchbook and camera. I went alone, which is one of the requirements — as in, Quigley stayed home. I sat on a bench near one of the lakes and sketched — the ducks and geese, the trees, the lake. First time in maybe ten years that I’ve done that. (Yes the sketch is lame, but I am very much out of practice. And part of all this is about getting comfortable with making not-so-great-art and just having fun.

It was SOOOO cool! I LOVED it. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed doing that. It was such a blessing I could hardly believe it. A beautiful day, not many people, just enough, really. And the trees. I love the trees, and the variety… God’s details. Nothing in nature is linear and straight and simplistically ordered. Even though there is order behind all of it.

There were two loose dogs, but since I didn’t have Quigley, I didn’t care!

After I filled a sketchbook page, I packed up and pulled out the camera, then went around taking pictures of whatever caught my fancy — overriding any protests that my choices might be silly. After all, what difference did it make? It’s a digital camera. It’s not like I’m wasting film.


 … I photographed the geese, the ducks, the lake, the man with the two short-legged dogs…

….. the trees, a night heron, the waterfall all sparkly with morning light, the sunny hillside with the grass such a bright yellow-green.

I love that color. Photographs can’t capture it.

I was so jazzed by it all when I left at ten. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe I’d actually done it. And while there I was even consciously and literally taking notes on the people and what I was hearing and smelling… thinking there could be a place like this in Sky.  I can’t even describe the sense of lightness and joy I had coming home. Who woulda thought? I’ve been going to that park forever. But today it was all brand new.

Then when I got home, as I came back inside from hanging out the laundry I found a mushroom in the grass. Last night there was nothing, this morning, a fully formed mushroom. Thinking it was probably poisonous, I picked it up to throw it away, but it was so cool, so perfect I decided to draw it. 

Then I threw it away. Good thing, too, since I just identified it: Green Gilled Parasol  or  Chlorophyllum molybdites . And it IS poisonous.

What an awesome time!  And oh yeah, I also got in three more pages on Sky. To go with the three I did yesterday. Which means I’ve reached page 15. In addition to taking my mother for her PET scan. So, silly and goofy or not, this Artist’s Way course seems to be making good on its promise of breaking through creative blocks!

A Busy Weekend

It started with me getting out of bed before seven on Saturday to shower and then run off to take my mother to the grocery store. When I got home it was water the grass, eat breakfast and hang out a load of sheets, then Stu and I were off across town and out to the Desert Museum for the Saguaro National Park Symposium on Climate Change. We went, not because we have a great interest in climate change, but because a friend of ours was giving a presentation on the research she’s been doing on frogs in local drainages. Despite the climate change billing, it was fun. We listened to an hours worth of talks — our friend’s and three others — and it brought back memories. Both my husband and I have degrees in Wildlife Biology (I think they call it Wildlife Ecology now. Or maybe Wildlife studies?) and at one time in our lives were looking at maybe doing the same sort of work as was presented in the talks.

Of course that was not God’s will for our lives, but our interest was still strong enough we were engaged by what we were hearing. Afterward, as we headed home through the desert, we were surprised to find thunderheads building to the south and east — surprised since supposedly the monsoon has ended.  They were so cool, I told Stu to stop the car so I could take pictures.

Once home, we ate lunch and then did Skype with our son in San Diego — for two hours! And after that it was time to walk Quigley, eat dinner and then my hubby went off to meet with a high school friend in town from Pennsylvania. I was invited but I had already turned into a pumpkin from all that interaction, travel and stimulation and was in sore need of down time. So I stayed home, went over my notes from Bible Class and finished a birthday card.

Today was our local assembly’s monthly communion and pot luck. We usually gather on Sunday’s for a recording of classes taught in Massachusetts earlier that morning (Their 10am is our 7am) in the home of one of the deacons (I learned only recently that meeting in separate, public church buildings didn’t start until the third century BC  A.D.  — see how pathetic my brain is when drained? — Until then, most church groups met in homes.) On the first Sunday of each month we do communion along with the Somerset, MA congregation, and have a pot luck afterward with lots of talk and fellowship.

I don’t usually get home till mid afternoon or later. At which point my introvert self is completely drained of energy and my brain is full of stuff in need of processing. I love that analogy to the bank where all the deposits are being accepted, but nothing is actually being catalogued or recorded. If that’s not done soon, chaos will ensue.

Fortunately I don’t have to go anywhere that I know of tomorrow. I have delusional hopes of maybe getting in some work on Sky, but if the usual pattern for post-communion Mondays’ follows I’ll probably just moodle. But I’ve put all that in the Lord’s hands, having arrived at the conclusion that I have no idea what’s wrong with me, if anything, what I’m doing wrong, if anything, if I really have no self-discipline, or just a multifaceted calling that demands flexibility. Today in class one of the speakers reminded us of 2 Peter 1:7  Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”  Not just anxiety, but your whole life, and your gift, he said. Weird that he’d say that, but it was just what I needed. Cast it all on Him and leave it there.

It’s the leaving it there that’s the tricky part. When I first wrote that down in my journal, I followed it with my next thought: “That can’t be right.” But when you set that down in writing, you see how absurd it is. Do you believe what the Book says or don’t you? Is there something unclear about “all”?

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Silver Linings

I was out taking pictures of our clouds the other day…er… more like a few weeks back, and this was one. I love our clouds, and the way the sun plays with them, brings out those silver linings.

(Silver linings: A hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty.)

Looking at this photo, I can see that the bright linings show the sun is shining beyond the cloud and perhaps soon will be fully manifest. Kind of a cool analogy to the Lord… He’s always there, shining, but sometimes clouds get in our way and we can’t see that. Forget to see that. In tonight’s lesson, Pastor McLaughlin reminded us that when we react to people, to unjust treatment, to a difficult situation, it’s because we’ve gotten our eyes off of the Lord — we’re no longer occupied with Him, but with ourselves.

Never a fun place to be. Especially since, when occupied with self we become like those smudge pots they used to use in orange groves to keep the fruit from freezing — belching out black smoke that further obscures our view of our Lord. Our Good Shepherd.

I’ve had a busy, draining few days… well, nearly a week now, I guess. Started feeling the effects of it yesterday (Monday) but had housecleaning and the monthly trip to the cancer center with my mother. I told myself I would rest today, but then kept coming up with all these things I “should” do. As it turned out, I rested despite myself, because it was one of those flitter days, where I flit from thing to thing and can’t recall quite how I ended up doing the things that I did. Generally when I get to the end of such a day I start to condemn myself, but today I recognized the pattern. It’s part of being tired, part of the resting. So I’m going to stop with the condemning and just enjoy the results of the day. Which is that I’ve gotten to rest, and when I do that it always surprises me what a difference it makes in my motivation and my attitude.

An Issue of Law and Nationalism, not Race

Last Thursday’s post on Judge Bolton’s injunction of AZ SB 1070 stimulated a comment from the opposing viewpoint that in turn provoked such a long answer from me, I thought it would serve better as an actual blog post.

“Aelinor” commented that she was delighted with Bolton’s ruling because she thought SB 1070 had racial overtones and we need something better. She also thought that racism was a problem in AZ, one she’d experienced first hand, and stated that “Unless you are a minority, you cannot say that you understand the racism firsthand.” My first response was to point out that her statement is itself racist since in it she was making an issue of my race in her assessment of my ability to understand something.

I take issue with that because for one thing, “racism” is merely someone having a judgmental, arrogant, implacable, critical, hate-filled, exclusionary and/or irrational attitude toward someone else and expressing it. It is someone making assessments of another’s  understanding, character, ability, talent, based on something as superficial as the color of one’s skin, structure of their bones, shape of their eyes, and assigning relative worth because of it.

Everything about that is stupid, ludicrous and absolutely, disgustingly wrong. And I don’t think I have to experience it as a minority to understand that.  In point of fact, I have experienced it, just not based on skin, bones, shape of eyes. It’s sin, it’s evil human viewpoint, and its source is the sin nature that every single one of us have. A nature we have all operated in from time to time (some of us, all the time) and will continue to operate in until the day we die, and we’ve all been the recipients/victims of other people’s sin natures, as others have been the recipients of ours. And race has absolutely zero to do with it.

No race is better or worse than another, just as no man, before God, is better or worse than another. We’re all depraved. We’re all sinners. Some of us go for the overt expression of it, in immoral degeneracy; some of us for the covert expression in moral degeneracy (think Pharisees of Jesus’s day for your example). Jesus died for all of us and desires for all men to be saved. We have only to believe in His name. Race is irrelevant.

And it’s irrelevant when it comes to SB 1070 as well.  This bill is not a furtherance of racism except in the thoughts, apparently, of those who think in terms of race. We’re not against Hispanics. We’re against people who break the law and think they should be rewarded for it by services paid for out of our paychecks. Or perhaps full citizenship. It doesn’t matter what race they are, what matters is that they come here illegally, they have flouted the laws of our land, circumvented the proper road to citizenship in order to get to the golden eggs.

Worse, because they can’t live in the mainstream, they gather in their own little enclaves, speaking their own language instead of ours, and failing to assimilate as so many other immigrants who have come before us have done. I read an article recently about the impact large numbers of a single, unassimilated ethnic group of this sort would have on the existing population — rather than assimilation, it’s invasion. The host country’s culture would be overwhelmed by the new if allowed unfettered entrance. The host country, in essence would be lost.

And that,  I think, it really what’s at stake here.

SB 1070 and this border issue is not about race but about our responsibility and determination as a nation to preserve our borders. If anyone can come in at any time, then we have no borders. If we have no borders, we have no nation, and if there are no nations, then we’re on the road to one world government, which is against the word of God. Nationalism is a biblical principle instituted for the protection of mankind. Man continually messes up every system he gets involved with, but if there are many nations, there’s always a chance for freedom to flourish somewhere.

There is another issue here as well, and that’s the rule of law, under which this country has always been governed and which is crumbling before our eyes. Judge Bolton’s ruling was not based on consideration of the law, but on her opinion of what is “right.” The Obama administration’s  justice department brought the suit not for fear of racism — having admitted 1070 has nothing to do with that — but in an attempt to consolidate power. They want amnesty. They want open borders. They want a raft of democratic voters, ignorant and beholden, feeding from the government trough, and motivated by that to vote for those who promise to feed and care for them.

They want all that in order to do what they really want, which, I truly believe, is to bring this country down. And so far, they seem to be succeeding.