Friday, September 20, 2013

Full moon rising

The moonrises the past two nights have been glorious. Wide open skies here allow the moon to be seen as soon as it breaks the horizon, when it's at its largest and warmest. It rises among clouds in a darkening sky, beaming silver bright, enough to drown out stars all night long.


Thought of the day:


I sit beneath the cliff, quiet and alone.
Round moon in the middle of the sky’s a bird ablaze:
all things are seen mere shadows in its brilliance,
that single wheel of perfect light…
Alone, its spirit naturally comes clear.
Swallowed in emptiness in this cave of darkest mystery,
because of the finger pointing, I saw the moon.
That moon became the pivot of my heart.

(Han Shan, Cold Mountain Poems: Zen Poems of Han Shan, Shih Te, and Wang Fan-chih)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A road trip to the past

Hubbell Trading Post is a National Historic Site on the way to Canyon de Chelly. It's been selling all the necessities of life to the community of Ganado, Arizona since 1878. I've been there twice now, the second time just a couple of weeks ago with my friend Summer from Tucson, who I stayed with for a few days when I first came to Arizona. 

Although it was sold to the National Park Service in 1967, Hubbell is still a working trading post and has managed to hold on to the charm of the past.

I couldn't find reference to it, but the profile over the door must be in honor of the Navajo people on whose reservation the trading post sits.

The front room of the store has utilitarian items, mostly, but includes these tiny soft-as-butter baby shoes and boots.

The two back rooms are my favorite, though. One has cases full of silver and turquoise jewelry (I must have been busy drooling because oddly enough I don't have any photos of that) and a ceiling full of baskets like stars in the sky. 
The remaining room has a wall lined with old books and is stacked with Navajo rugs. Oh, my.

Don't see any you like? Just start digging through the piles.

Imagine the work involved in this. No automation here; it's all done by hand.

And here is my favorite. This beauty nearly leaped into my arms. The colors and pattern pulse with life and it would have been perfect thrown over the foot of the bed.

But not for me. It was the month to render unto Caesar and my coffers were dry. Maybe next time.

Thought of the day:

A living spark of tension exists between object and [observer].   (Traditional Japanese philosophy, Sojourns magazine, winter/spring, 2010)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You are the sky...

I can't get enough of the sky around here. Well, except for a couple of weeks ago when it was gray for about three days and I started crawling the walls - it felt so much like the Pacific Northwest and that was depressing beyond belief. But we've had some stunning sunsets lately, just like this one from the other night. Right, these are all from the same evening, just different parts of the sky, and within about half an hour. I love this place.


Thought of the day:

You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather. ― (Pema Chödrön)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Oh, Pat!

A couple of weeks ago, I watched out my window as the traffic on I-40, about a half mile away, came to a stop and stayed that way for a couple of hours. I found out the next morning that my boss, Pat, of the "Oh, Pat!" fame, was in that accident. She was coming back from Flagstaff with a load of plants for the park. It was a minor accident that turned disastrous when her vehicle was hit by a truck after she'd pulled off to the side of the road.

I don't know the particulars which doesn't matter, because nothing can change the fact that she's in the hospital in Phoenix and it appears she will be for some time. 

Being able to do just about nothing else, this past Saturday a few of us got together to stitch a quilt together for her.
Here are the blocks being previewed for placement. We'd already spent a couple of hours putting them together.

Swapping out blocks, turning them this way and that, to make the best arrangement.

The finished top with all the blocks sewed together and pressed flat, waiting for borders.

Route 66 fabric will be used for the outer border of the front and the backing.

And the thing that makes it all come together, Petrified Forest panels scattered across the top.

Someone else will do the quilting and then off it will go to Phoenix. I wish it was so easy to get her put back together. If group effort was all it took, she'd be here already.

If you're of a praying mind, please keep her there. She can use all the help we can give.

Thought of the day:
I'm touched by the idea that when we do things that are useful and helpful - collecting these shards of spirituality - that we may be helping to bring about a healing. (Leonard Nimoy)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

One last trip to Chelly

A friend came up from Tucson earlier this week for a couple of days and we went to Canyon de Chelly. We managed to get to a couple of new turn outs that I hadn't been to before, so it was like a first trip for me all over again.

One place was Spider Rock, on the south rim of the canyon. It's a bit of a hike back to the viewing area but worth every step. 

Anyone who knows anything at all about photography knows that the light makes all the difference. The light shadowplay on the mesas in the background adds texture to the view that would be missing without the clouds. 

Spider Rock, in the middle foreground, is about 750 feet high. According to Native American tradition, the taller of the two spires is home to Spider Grandmother. This from Wikipedia: "The Spider Grandmother is creator of the world in Southwestern Native American religions and myths such as that of the Pueblo and Navajo peoples. According to mythology, she was responsible for the stars in the sky, she took a web she had spun, laced it with dew, threw it into the sky and the dew became the stars."

This is my favorite photo from my last trip to the canyon, at least for this year. It will be interesting to see it under winter skies when I return after the first of the year.

Thought of the day:
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts...there is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter. The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place [herself] under the influence of earth, sea, and sky, and their amazing life. (Rachel Carson)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

All creatures great and small

After coming home one afternoon to find a gigantic snake heading for the shade under the picnic table, I now take a glance around before putting my foot just about anywhere, including bare pavement. It turned out to be a harmless gopher snake, harmless even though it was about 3 feet long. Somehow all my photos of it have disappeared but they weren't that good anyway because it was doing a good job of hiding.

Other snakes have either shown themselves, like the rattler we saw on the road during the night ride,

or leave just a trace behind, like this track I found on old Route 66.

Then there are the snakes that are caught as part of a wildlife survey the biotech performs all season, like these two that she brought to show me.

An Arizona elegans, obviously pretty 

I don't remember this one's name. It was a little on edge, so she left it in its bucket and I photographed from a safe distance. She weighs and otherwise documents everything she traps, then returns them to where they were found.

I saw this guy just the other day and should know its name but am honestly too lazy to find out. It was warming itself near Puerco Pueblo.

The same is true for this chunky one, distinguished by its turquoise belly, that I saw on the trail into the Painted Desert, aka The Trail from Hell.

This is a horned lizard, which I know only because my friend who was with me told me so. It has a gimpy front left leg; every shot I have shows it tucked underneath. It was also seen at Puerco Pueblo.

And my all-time favorite, a collared lizard. I was so proud to have gotten pictures of this one, thinking I'd found something unusual, only to find they're pretty common. Isn't it handsome, though? I spotted it early on in my time here, on the Long Logs trail.

Then we have the various flyers. This raven was trying its best to cool off on a day that didn't feel all that hot to me, but then I don't wear black feathers. It was sitting on a wall at Crystal Forest. Gorgeous.

Normally I wouldn't save, let alone show in a public place, a photo as blurry as this one, but I just couldn't leave it out. This is a hummingbird moth. I watched it flit from flower to flower, extending a proboscis just like a hummingbird, and thought it was the smallest one I'd ever seen. Then I saw the antennae which you can kind of see angling out on either side of its head and knew it was no hummingbird. It never landed anywhere and this is the best I could do on the wing.
I think I've seen more monarchs here than in my entire life combined. They don't stay still for long.

I think these are monarch caterpillars. I've rescued a few from the road and put them back in vegetation where they belong.

[edited 9/6: wrong on the ID on the "monarch." This is a monarch caterpillar: 
I still don't know what the fuzzy one is.]

I don't know what this one-incher is. I found it on old Route 66 one day.

Another unknown. They're all over and usually on the wing, so it was just chance I caught one at rest on Route 66 the same day I got the caterpillar above.

You just have to hand it to an ant. Look at the size of the seed this one's carrying - more mass than itself. I think I can, I think I can.

How totally cute is this little guy, spotted at Blue Mesa. A chipmunk? I don't know. What I call chipmunks other people call ground squirrels.

A really beautiful coyote, spotted near Newspaper Rock a couple of days ago, unsuccessfully hunting and pouncing on something in the grass,

but nothing as large as this jackrabbit.

And then we have domesticated animals. There are two horse-rangers that perform really good public relations in the park, Pintado and Trooper. They're ridden by people-rangers and are a hit everywhere they go. Pintado, on the left here, performed admirably by laying his chin on the girl's shoulder when her mother took her picture. Trooper used to be a race horse and had to be taught different manners when he was being taken out to the public. They're both gentle, calm animals that are great ambassadors for the park.

These rangers spotted me with the camera pointed their way and obliged with a friendly wave at the close of one beautiful evening on the road to the Painted Desert Inn.

Thought of the day:

Animals don’t lie. Animals don’t criticize. If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do. (Betty White, If You Ask Me)

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Tonight was a night of serendipity, good karma, pure luck. I just happened to look out the window when the sky started going dark after a truly beautiful day, the kind of dark that hints at a good storm, and decided to go out for a look. Wow. What color in the east. What a glow on the painted desert on the other side of Interstate 40. Look at the white semi truck on the lower right for scale - this is one huge place.

Shot after shot and the sky continued to change color. How gorgeous. How could it get more gorgeous than this?

This is how. I turned around to go back in and this was in the west. I've often wished I could paint but no amount of talent could produce something like this. Look about a quarter of the way in from the left for a telephone pole on the horizon. That gives a clue to how large this configuration was.

I have never, in my entire life, seen a sunset like this. Which morphed to this.

And then to this.

Life is good. This is one of those things that makes my problems petty, that makes me very glad to be alive.


Thought of the day:
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. (Albert Einstein)