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Archive for the ‘Adventures With Pepper’ Category

Winter gives this tree a stark beauty that spoke to me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Winter gives this tree a stark beauty that spoke to me. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice it’s knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully. – Matthew Fox

I didn't realize until I got home and compared my photos with ones I had taken earlier at Arivaca Cienega that the same tree had spoken to me when it was decked out in spring finery. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I didn’t realize until I got home and compared my photos with ones I had taken earlier at Arivaca Cienega that the same tree had spoken to me when it was decked out in spring finery.  — Photo by Pat Bean

There’s Beauty in Starkness

            I took a friend and her dog with me and my canine companion Pepper this past weekend to hike the Arivaca-Cienega trail 70 miles southeast of Tucson. It’s an important birding area, and a place where I’ve hiked before, only in the months when everything was lush and verdant..

I realized, looking at the naked branches of trees on the narrow, winding and rough backroad that we traveled to get there, that today was going to be different. It was winter and the color green was almost nowhere to be found.

But as before, beauty was around every corner. It was just different, a starkness that let you see deeper into the heart and soul and bones of Mother Nature.

It was an awesome day, even though we got there late and the birds were taking a nap somewhere out of sight. The exception was a pair of greater roadrunners that scurried across the road ahead of us as we headed back to Tucson.

I will return… Perhaps I can catch the tree in autumn.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Open Suitcase http://tinyurl.com/zohd9u6 Take an armchair train ride through Africa.

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The view of the Catalina Mountains this morning from the parking lot of my apartment complex. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The view of the Catalina Mountains this morning from the parking lot of my apartment complex. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.: — Vivian Green

Days for Being Lazy and Reading

We had snow in Tucson the January month I began nesting here. Three years later, we had snow in Tucson again.

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The peaks a couple of days ago when they were mostly hidden behind a cloud curtain. — Photo by Pat Bean

My first Sonoran Desert snowfall was fairy like, and I got a photograph before it all melted a couple of hours later. This past week’s snowfall never made it down to the valley. But unlike my first one, which dusted the Catalina Mountains fo only a day, this one has provided me with mountain snowfall vistas for a full week. I’m assuming that while we got consistent rain in the foothills where I live, it snowed at higher elevations .

In the meantime, no matter how many things I wrote down each morning on my daily to-do list, by 10 o’clock, all I wanted to do was curl up in my recliner by a window with a book, and watch in total contentment as the cold, overcast, rainy day passed by my window..

And mostly, with occasional outings in the weather to walk my canine companion Pepper, that’s exactly what I did.

Today it’s sunny in the valley, and the Catalinas are losing their frosting. The sun defrosted my lazy ways too. Already I’ve cleaned house; spent an hour on the telephone with Comcast trying to get them not to raise my internet fees as they do every year in January; went to the store and bank; retrieved my mail, which has been sitting in my box for a week, read a bit, painted a bit, crocheted a bit, cooked a bit, and now am writing this blog – and it’s still early afternoon.

The sun and warmer day have recharged my batteries.

Bean Pat: In recognition of the death of David Bowie, my pat on the back today goes to the Wall Street Journal’s article and video on the rock star. http://tinyurl.com/hgagykl   And as a writer, this is one of my favorite quotes by Bowie: “Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything.”

 

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Through my windshield: Somewhere in New Mexico on one of the better stretches of road. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Through my windshield: Somewhere in New Mexico on one of the better stretches of road. — Photo by Pat Bean

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” – William Feather

Snow and Ice Adventure

            I left Dallas the day after Christmas, after three weeks visiting my scattered Texas family. It was a quiet, cold overcast morning with 950 miles of interstate driving ahead of me. I hate freeway driving, but I needed to get home by the 27th because my Tucson daughter was having surgery on the 28th.

To make the drive go faster, I listened to an audible version of Ken Follett’s “Edge of Eternity,” which is the third of the author’s Century Trilogy, and which covers the period of the 1960’s through the ‘80s. Those are years I lived through, so the book was a refresher history course for me of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Civil Rights issues.

Not too far from my daughter's Rowlett home.

Not too far from my daughter’s Rowlett home.

About 5 p.m., I pulled into Van Horn, Texas, and checked into a $47 a night Motel 6 – and immediately regretted my economy decision. About 7 p.m., as I was lying on the bed (on my own blanket) watching TV, the electricity went out. It flickered on and off for another hour then blacked out altogether. I blamed the cheap motel until I got up a bit later and opened the window curtain to see if I could let in some light. My car, parked right outside my door, had about 10 inches of snow on it — and the entire town was blacked out.

The next morning I learned of the Texas tornados, and that one had sat down just two miles from my daughter’s home — where my return to Arizona journey had started. Thankfully all my Texas family was OK, although sadly other families were not so fortunate.

Since I needed to get home, I got on the road early – well, after a half hour of scrapping ice and snow off my car without the proper tools and no gloves. For a while the roads were clear, but somewhere before I hit El Paso, snow began to fall. And somewhere after El Paso, the roads turned to ice. At one point I was following a snowplow, and at another traffic slowed to 10 mph, or even stopped completely a time or two.

Cayenne in El Paso, after I cleaned her up in Van Horn and before the nasty New Mexico snow and ice. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Cayenne in El Paso, after I cleaned her up in Van Horn and before the nasty New Mexico snow and ice. — Photo by Pat Bean

On the sides of the road were many stuck and wrecked cars and semis, whose drivers I assumed didn’t know the first rule of getting from one place to another on ice. Drive as if you have no brakes because you’re going to lose control of your vehicle when you apply them.

With 25 years of Northern Utah winter driving behind me, I felt reasonably confident I would make it through, and so I decided to take William Feather’s advice and consider the day an adventure.

It worked. I forgot about making time and my stress level dropped significantly – and I even made it home before dark. You don’t get many adventures like this at my age.           

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Pelicans http://ghostbearphotography.com/pelicans/   One of my favorite bloggers hates birds, but loves pelicans. I love his photos.

 

 

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“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to it original dimension.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first week of January, 2013,  at my brand new apartment. I didn't know how unusual the now was in Tucson. I haven't seen it in the city since. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The first week of January, 2013, at my brand new apartment. I didn’t know how unusual that was in Tucson. I haven’t seen snow in the city since. — Photo by Pat Bean

2016 is Almost Here

I hope all my readers have good times, good laughs and lots of hugs this holiday season. I’ll see you again in 2016 when my goal is to do five blogs a week.

Pepper -- Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper — Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper says hi, too.

 

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It was way past coffee time when I gave Pepper her last walk yesterday evening, but the jolt I got from this sight was as good as any caffeine. -- Photo by Pat Bean

It was way past coffee time when I gave Pepper her last walk yesterday evening, but the jolt I got from this sight was as good as any caffeine. — Photo by Pat Bean

            ”This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield, and the battle takes place. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition … Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with powder.” ~ Honoré de Balzac, “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee”

Cream, No Sugar, Please

  1. Sitting on my bedroom balcony watching the weather of the day, be it sunny or stormy, play with the light and shadows on Mount Lemmon.
  2. In a hot bath on a cold morning.
  3. In a go cup at the dog park watching Pepper play with other dogs
  4. While in the car at the beginning of a road trip.
  5. Walking Pepper on the ridge outside my apartment complex as the sun makes its appearance for the day.
  6. In bed with a lover who got up and fixed the coffee, admittedly unfulfilled dreams of younger days. I always fixed the coffee.
  7. Chatting with a good friend who dropped by for coffee.
  8. Sitting in a corner at a coffee shop people watching and imagining their lives.
  9. In an airport waiting to depart for a new adventure.
  10. And sitting at my desk and writing this blog – or writing anything else that excites me.           
Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Lisa-Jo Baker http://tinyurl.com/oecw232 Good advice for the holidays even if you’re not a mother

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, whn contc

The first aspens I saw were off in the distance, where their golden deliciousness stood out in contrast to the dark evergreens -- Photo by Pat Bean

The first aspens I saw were off in the distance, where their golden deliciousness stood out in contrast to the dark evergreens — Photo by Pat Bean

“Willows whiten, aspens quiver, Little breezes dusk and shiver” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, bet bit by a mosquitos, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world on the peak of Tukuhnikivats. – Edward Abbey            

Aspens at Last

            Jacob Lake, a tiny community that sits at the junction of Highway 89A and State Road 67 and which is the turnoff to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet.   I had expected to see aspen trees by this elevation, but none came into my view, although I usually began seeing these scarred, white-trunk trees around 7,000 feet. Of course that was when I lived in Utah, and now I’m in Arizona.

The second grove of aspens was right next to the road. I stood beneath this one and let it sing to me.

The second grove of aspens was right next to the road. I stood beneath this one and let it sing to me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Still hopeful that the goal of this particular road trip, to see aspen trees in their golden autumn colors, would be met, I took the turnoff  for the Grand Canyon. There was still 44 miles to go before I reached the rim of what many people consider to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world, so there was still time for this road trip’s mission to be accomplished.

And it was – although I was closer to Grand Canyon National Park than I expected before the landscape began to be dotted with patches of yellow that challenged the color of the sun. I was delighted.

Aspen trees gown in colonies from a single seedling that sends up its children through the earth into the sunlight. If you look closely, you’ll see how similar each tree in close proximity looks like its neighbor; and how different they look from a nearby patch of aspens that also hover close together with roots and branches entangled.

 

Near the top of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Near the top of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

Until its death, only the mother tree can send up new seedlings. Then another tree takes its place. It has to do with some chemical or such that the mother tree sends out as a birth control pill to the other trees, is how it was once explained to me. While an aspen tree can live only up to about 150 years, there is one large aspen grove in Utah near Fish Lake that is 80,000 thousand years old. Just thinking about this sends shivers through by brain neurons.

As I stopped to stand beneath one of the aspen groves, I was reminded that not only are these trees pleasing to the eye, but to the ear as well. The breeze rippling through their coin-sized leaves sent a pleasing melody into the air. The aspens sang for me.

 

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Life’s Purpose   http://tinyurl.com/ocjqsok  Why limit yourself to one passion. As a person who has many passions, this blog appealed to me. Even though I know that it’s the people with only one passion who may accomplish the greatest things in life. But oh what they miss.

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The Vermilion Cliffs -- Photo by Pat Bean

The Vermilion Cliffs — Photo by Pat Bean

“When in doubt, wear red.” Bill Blass

            “Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” – Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Red, Black and Green

If you’re driving north from Flagstaff to Zion National Park’s east entrance, you have a choice of two routes, Highway 89 or Highway 89A. Both are scenic. The first will take you up past Lake Powell and the second past the Vermilion Cliffs and the Kaibab National Forest.

Just red for miles and miles. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Just red for miles and miles. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve driven both many times, but since I was going to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, my only choice was to take 89A, which is where I passed over the Colorado River via Navajo Bridge.

Red is the dominant color of the scenery as you pass by the Vermilion Cliffs, which are the second step-up in the five-step Grand Staircase of the Colorado Plateau. These red-rock escarpments dominate the landscape for miles in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.

I cannot pass by them without looking up toward the blue sky, however. The Vermilion Cliffs was one of the release sights for returning California condors to the wild, The population of these nearly 10-foot wing-span giants dwindled to a population of only 22 birds in 1987, all of which were in zoos or sanctuaries. By the end of 2014, thanks to efforts to save this endangered species by we humans, California condors numbered over 400, of which half had been released back to the wild.

One of the condors soaring once again in the wild. Note the attached number on its wings.  -- Wikimedia photo

One of the condors soaring once again in the wild. Note the attached number on its wings. — Wikimedia photo

I didn’t see one soaring high in the sky this day, but several years ago, I saw two flying overhead in nearby Zion National Park. Since I had followed the first condor born in captivity in 1983, when I had placed the story and a photo of the hatchling on the front page of the newspaper I was working for at the time, it was a triumphant moment for this birdwatcher, as well as a monument to the efforts of the human race for saving a species from extinction, whose cause of near death had been the pesticide DDT.

I was still reflecting on this momentous achievement, when the red of the landscape turned to green. In the last few miles, the highway had left the red cliffs to zigzag up in elevation until I found myself surrounded on both sides by the green of pines, spruces, oaks and firs that thrive in the Kaibab National Forest .

But I would have to climb higher, still, to find the golden aspens I sought. … To be continued. 

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Winter Syntax http://tinyurl.com/q6wb5ct As a writer and nature lover, I found this blog’s poetry appealing.

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