Archive for the ‘Monday walk’ Category

The beach is part of life in much of southern California and as our daughter and her family live just a few blocks from it, every trip there includes a daily walk to the beach. On the way, my heart was gladdened by these golden poppies and the contrast with the bright blue fence behind them.

My plant ID says these are Delosperma bosseranum or, as we normal people call them, iceplants, a succulent. No ice in sight but if ice looked like this, what an interesting world it would be!

I haven’t seen dog droppings, so I’m assuming these bags get used. I love the “Business is picking up”, something I would have liked to have written.

Look this direction and you can see the Palos Verdes pennisula and the city of Palos Verdes, or PV as the locals call it, where the houses are large and expensive and the views are amazing. The flowering succulents on the hill above the beach are in full bloom.

Look the other direction and you can see flowers again as well as quite a distance along the coast. At the bottom of this hill is The Strand. The official name of The Strand bike path in Los Angeles is the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, a fully-paved, 22-mile (35-km) bike path that runs from Will Rogers State Beach in the north to Torrance County Beach in the south. It gets a lot of use. When both my husband and I visit, we stay in an Airbnb in Hermosa Beach and my husband bikes to where our daughter and family live and then back at night.

There’s so much to do at the beach but father-son time is one of the best things!!

It wouldn’t be a Monday walk with Jo or a trip to Redondo Beach without a stop at Sweet Wheat, my favorite French bakery. Today I’ve taken a break from panna cotta to enjoy Paris-Brest, so light and tasty and, important to me, just barely sweet…but SO very delicious. I’m sure I walked off any calories going to, along, and from the beach, right? 🙂

The Paris–Brest is a classic French pastry, featuring a crisp, almond-studded baked ring of pâte à choux that’s split in half horizontally, liberally filled with praline crème mousseline—a heady mixture of vanilla pastry cream, nutty praline paste, and whipped butter—and finished with a dusting of powdered sugar.

This bakery staple was created in 1910 by pastry chef Louis Durand, as an homage to the long-distance Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race (the pastry’s circular shape is meant to evoke that of a bicycle wheel). Pâtisserie Durand, which is still owned and operated by the Durand family, claims to have the original recipe, but fortunately this hasn’t prevented pastry chefs around the world from putting forth their own spins on the dessert. ~ Serious Eats (You can find a recipe there as well.L

Happy May Day! Did any of you make May baskets when you were children? If you live outside the US, is May 1 a special day for you?

On the way back from California, I decided to detour through Joshua Tree National Park in hopes of seeing spring scenes. Coming in from the north or northwest, I could immediately see the Joshua Trees that give the park its name. These trees that could have sprung from the mind and pen of Dr. Seuss are part of the agave family, a rather large family encompassing a wide variety of plant appearances. Despite its funky look, the tree parts are useful. Native tribes made the tough leaves into baskets and sandals and ate the flower buds and raw or roasted seeds.

“The desert is so huge, and the horizon so distant, that the make a person feel small, and as if he should remain silent.” ~Paulo Coelho

A wealthy California woman, Minerva Hamilton Hoyt’s vision and perseverance in conserving desert habitats lead to the setting aside of 795,156 acres or 3,218 square kilometers, first designated as a National Monument and then a National Park. I’d say it’s a national treasure.

“Water, water, water… There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount…unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.” ~Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

There are an unfathomable number of trees in the northern part of the park, reminding me of photos of the African savannas, albeit with Joshua “trees” instead of the trees found in Africa. Standing each in solitary splendor rather than close together as do the trees in a forest, they stretch as far as the eye can see.

“Noontime here is like a drug. The light is psychedelic, the dry electric air narcotic. To me the desert is stimulating, exciting, exacting” ~Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Reproduction of Joshua trees is anything but simple.

Spring rains may bring clusters of white-green flowers on long stalks at branch tips. Like all desert blooms, Joshua trees depend on just the perfect conditions: well-timed rains, and for the Joshua tree, a crisp winter freeze. Researchers believe that freezing temperatures may damage the growing end of a branch and stimulate flowering, followed by branching. You may notice some Joshua trees grow like straight stalks; these trees have never bloomed—which is why they are branchless! In addition to ideal weather, the pollination of flowers requires a visit from the yucca moth. The moth collects pollen while laying her eggs inside the flower ovary. As seeds develop and mature, the eggs hatch into larvae, which feed on the seeds. The tree relies on the moth for pollination and the moth relies on the tree for a few seeds for her young—a happy symbiosis. The Joshua tree is also capable of sprouting from roots and branches. Being able to reproduce vegetatively allows a much quicker recovery after damaging floods or fires, which may kill the main tree.

Many birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects depend on the Joshua tree for food and shelter. Keep your eyes open for the yellow and black flash of a Scott’s oriole busy making a nest in a yucca’s branches. At the base of rocks you may find a wood rat nest built with spiny yucca leaves for protection. As evening falls, the desert night lizard begins poking around under the log of a fallen Joshua tree in search of tasty insects. ~from the park website

Tell me this doesn’t look like a giant artichoke!

However as the bloom progresses, it looks for all the world like some sort of alien creature best left well alone.

“If you spend enough time in the desert, you will hear it speak.” ~Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death

Eventually though, it looks much more attractive. Not all the trees were in bloom but there were enough to look good. My goal was to find one that was small enough that I could a) get a good photo of the bloom at its artichoke beginning and b) get a decent photo of the mature bloom. The problem for the former was not only finding a tree that was small enough but that was in a location where I could pull over enough to be off the road.

“But in the desert, in the pure clean atmosphere, in the silence – there you can find yourself. And unless you begin to know yourself, how can you even begin to search for God?” ~Father Dioscuros

I admit I did much more driving than walking because I wanted to get home that evening. I made stop after stop for photos (oh, did I wish I’d taken my Nikon for that short California weekend) and just to enjoy the amazing scenery. We’ll have to plan a trip where we stay near the park for a few days, taking time to hike and explore. But as you’ll see over the next days, the three hours were hours well spent in soul-refreshing beauty.

Jo’s Monday Walk 3.26.23

The photographic road we tend to travel most often is what John is asking us to share with you this week for the Lens-Artists Challenge. It’s a challenge that require some introspection on my part but I do know that my overall road runs mostly through nature, although within that milieu I consider myself to be eclectic. My motto? Perhaps this…

“Nature, especially wilderness, has a calming effect on the mind”Percy Fernandez

or maybe this…

“Nature never goes out of style”– Unknown

My road is slow and quiet…with time to stop and look. There’s a reason people in a group or on wheels rarely see wildlife.

I love to take inroads to see the little things that perhaps might be missed and share them through a photo.

“Sometimes you can tell a large story with a tiny subject “ Eliot Porter

My road can be literal and I’ve been down this one many times for most of my life. I plan travel it as long as I’m able.

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

My road means wanting to see things no one else has seen or, if seen, have not really noticed as special. I want them to say, “Why didn’t I ever think to make a picture of that?”

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”― Marc Riboud

Sometimes my road even includes the city with all its distortions of nature and sees them as beautiful, yet I always yearn for the road back to and into nature to center me and bring me peace.

“Always seeing something, never seeing nothing, being photographer”
― Walter De Mulder

Wherever your road is and whatever it looks like, be prepared to taste the sweetness of life when the opportunity arises.

My overarching motto as a photographer is expressed perfectly in this quote I discovered while creating this post. It instantly smote my heart:

“When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” ― Robert Frank

Thanks to all of you who take time to view my photos, to “like” my posts, and most of all, to take the time to tell me what you like about them, how they touch you . That is soul food in the finest sense. ❤

Perhaps Jo will forgive me for also linking this to her Monday Walk challenge as it is indeed a walk, albeit a virtual one, through the philosophy of my photography and blogging.

Sometimes detours take us to the best places. As Tolkien famously and aptly penned:

Not all those who wander are lost.

Regular readers may remember that the first day of my October trip to Illinois last year started with a detour taking me on a wander through the western part of New Mexico on two-lane highways. Once I recovered from the trauma of having the sun rise directly in the middle of the highway, which I tried to block by rising up in my seat as far as possible and holding the cover of a CD below the useless sun visor, I relished the lack of traffic and reveled in the scenery. Those of you who know me will understand my joy when I finally came upon snow, a light coating I admit, but enough to make my heart swell.

Then I saw this jutting up. What could it be? Seeing one of the pullouts that have signs that say “Historical marker,” I hit the brakes and pulled over, something I normally don’t do when I’m on a long trip because it takes time that I don’t have. (We like to call the “hysterical markers.”) I love history, but I usually have miles to go before I sleep.

I was hooked. This sort of thing is exactly my cup of tea (and you know how much I love tea.) I immediately resolved to adjust my return trip overnight stops so that I could spend time exploring El Morro and also stop at Zuni Pueblo.

Although you can make it from Phoenix to Naperville in two long days, my agenda called for 2 1/2, a leisurely drive of just over 1700 miles. Overnighting in Albequerque the second night, I arrived at El Morro early on a brisk morning where snow still lurked in the shaded areas. There were several walking options but I chose the shorter one, concentrating on the inscriptions, so I had time to get home before rush hour.

So here we are, ready to walk. Just be sure you have a coat because it’s cold.

The rocks loom above as we approach along the well-kept path. I learned later that the pueblo remains mentioned on the sign are at the top and that you can walk to the top. Something for another trip. But the size of the monument and the absolute quiet of the park filled me with delight. To be enveloped in history cloaked in the grandeur of nature is perfection.

The moon still stood over the cliffs.

“Go slowly, my lovely moon, go slowly.”
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

When you think of western migration, you’ll probably at some point think of the gold rush. However, gold isn’t the real treasure in the West and Southwest, water is. You can go your entire life without gold but only somewhere between a few hours and a week or so, without water, depending on a variety of factors. This pool of water would have been the draw for living near or stopping on trips through this part of New Mexico. I can’t imagine it was fun hauling water from here to the pueblos on the top of the rocks but it would have to be done. I could just get my water bottle.

Of course what makes these rocks unique are the over 2,000 signatures, dates, messages, and petroglyphs made by a variety of visitors: ancestral Puebloans, Spanish, and Americans.

The oldest legible inscription at El Morro, left by Juan de Oñate, the first Spanish governor of the colony of Santa Fe de Nuevo México, is dated April 16, 1605. Among the Anglo-American emigrants who left their names there in 1858 were several members of the Rose-Baley Party, including Leonard Rose and John Udell.[4] Nearby petroglyphs and carvings made by the Ancestral Puebloans were inscribed centuries before Europeans arrived. In 1906, U.S. federal law prohibited further carving on the cliffs. ~Wikipedia

It reminded me of the autograph books we had when I was in high school, although I doubt any of these people wrote the often-used: “2 good 2 be 4 gotten,” or if they did, it was either in Spanish or petroglyphs, neither of which I can read.

I’ll have mercy on you and not show you all the photos I took of the carvings but let me whet your appetite with these two photos. The park provides a free guide that points out the main signatures and gives lots of information. I’m happy to report that there doesn’t seem to be any modern graffiti, which surprised me but in a good way. I’m thankful the President Theodore Roosevelt designated this as a national monument so that we could see it intact today. It’s also free, so if you’re ever in the area of Albuquerque or Grants, New Mexico, consider stopping. The walk to the top is supposed to take about an hour or I believe you can walk all the way around the base. I simply enjoyed my meander through the centuries in this awe-inspiring spot.

Jo’s Monday Walk…2.13.23

Not far southwest of downtown Tucson you’ll find Mission San Xavier del Bac, informally known as The White Dove. You can see why from this opening photo showing the main part of the church. Although we’ve lived in Arizona since March of 2020, last Saturday was our first visit to a place my dad used to urge us to go and considering this wasn’t the sort of place I realized he enjoyed, that was a huge endorsement.

We pulled up about half an hour after the church opened and before most other people arrived, my favorite time to visit almost anywhere. 🙂 As we drove down the highway, we could see a group of white buildings from a distance but the true magnificence only became apparent when we arrived on the opposite side of the enormous open area in front of the mission.

A National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797. Using money borrowed from a Sonoran rancher and designed by a Spanish architect, the villagers from Wa:k, part of the Tohono O’odham Nation, helped build the church from sand, lime, clay, rock and wood. They built kilns, dug trenches, and and whatever else needed doing and work continued for 16 years until the money ran out.

The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the church’s interior is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. It is a place where visitors can truly step back in time and enter an authentic 18th Century space.

The church retains its original purpose of ministering to the religious needs of its parishioners. (From the church website)

You might be forgiven for thinking you’re in a European Spanish or Portuguese church when you see the interior. This view is from the front of the church (at least as far as we could go) looking back towards the entrance.

Eventually building resumed and numerous additions, such as classrooms, rooms for the housing of clergy, defense against attacks, and so forth, were make, creating the beautiful structures we saw last weekend. The enclosed figure in the photo below is San Francisco Xavier, the patron saint of Father Kino and source of the church’s name.

Another thing reminiscent of a European church was the ongoing restoration, which kept us from fully seeing and appreciating the beauty of the sanctuary. But don’t despair! If you click here, you’ll be taken to a 360 degree view of the entire magnificent interior of the church and trust me, it’s well worth the minute or two of your time. It was frustrating not to be able to see the entire area even with the scaffolding and there’s no way of knowing how long the work will take.

But I did get a peek at a bit of the area to the left of the main sanctuary.

The work of repairing and maintaining the church continues along with the costs. Thankfully the emphasis is on using traditional materials and a local apprenticeship program allows opportunities for members of the community to train and learn skills in conservation and related trades. Last year the school had to close due to both low enrollment and lack of staff. There’s still a gift shop and a museum, the latter closed at this time. The Mission is considered one of the most culturally significant at-risk buildings in the world.

All that being true, it’s the feeling of awe that I got when entering the church that was most real. The beauty, love, and time put into glorifying God is apparent and heartfelt. That the native community was deeply involved in the construction and still worships there on Sundays is wonderful. Whatever some might believe about the motivation and methods of the Catholic Church in its ministry to native people (and there’s nothing I could see here that read like subjugation), the glory of God has eclipsed that and shone through. If you are ever in this area, you won’t be sorry if you take time to visit, checking in advance for service times during which the church isn’t open for visiting but certainly is open for worship. Visiting is free but donations or purchases in the gift shop are not only welcome but go towards keeping The White Dove flying for years to come.

Jo might feel at home in this church, so it’s fitting that it’s part of her morning walk this week. Jo, thanks for hosting this enjoyable walk through many parts of the world! It’s always a joy.

One of the things I always do when visiting in Illinois is to walk in the park I enjoyed regularly when living there. As ti was early November, most plants weren’t at their best yet I managed to find color in a variety of place:

in the dawn sky,

in the sun hitting the trees and the leaves that remained,

in some vivid leaves still hanging on…literally,

in the still-leafy bushes,

and in the fallen leaves along a back trail.

Jo’s Monday Walk…sometime

After an enjoyable and educational day with Marsha (AlwaysWrite), Jodie (Jodie’s Touch of Style), Jodie’s husband (and photographer), and Leslie, one of her models, Marsha and I planned a museum trip for Friday morning before I headed home. Dicovering the museum was closed (opening, naturally, the next day), we changed direction, heading for the IOOF cemetery. What’s that you might ask? I guessed it meant International Order of Odd Fellows. Almost. The “I” stands for “Independent” rather than “International.” But cemetery it was either way and I do enjoy browsing through cemeteries, especially older ones where there are interesting headstones. Here are a few that caught my eye.

I’d guess that Petra was Catholic as this is a very Catholic headstone. You’ll see more of this type of presentation in European cemeteries.

I found H.C. Tyler’s stone intriguing. Was it made this way or did some part break off? Perhaps H.C. was a lover of rocks and stones. OK, probably not but you have to admit it’s not the usual, either in stone or lettering.

Marsha warned me that the cemetery wasn’t well-kept and unfortunately, she was right. Here’s an excellent example of that. Someone spent a lot of money on a beautiful mosaic remembrance and not only was it breaking up, it was covered with branches and dead leaves.

You can see from the inscription and the choice of a headstone that wasn’t the usual bland stone that Allie was indeed beloved.

As we walked back to the parking area, a small grave caught my eye. Even though it looks big here, it was at most a yard in length, not very wide, and almost hidden by bushes and the tree. Reading the inscription (following photo) tugged at my heart.

How difficult to buy a son less than two when he passed away! We have an almost 10-month old grandson now and I can’t imagine the grief we and his parents would feel were this to happen. If you have children or grandchildren, give them a hug if you can, send a text filled with love, call to tell them your love them, and thank God that you can.

We didn’t have a dessert after this but we did have an excellent lunch with Marsha’s husband, after which I drove back home. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. We were missing a couple of blogging friends, Lisa from Micro of the Macro and Donna of Wind Kisses. I did however have coffee and lunch with Donna on my way up, always a wonderful time.

Jo’s Monday Walk 1.16.23

It’s often clear in our part of Arizona but when there are some clouds, be ready for some spectacular morning color as on this morning last week. Sunrise doesn’t come until about 7:30 am these days so I don’t have to rush out to catch dawn and sunrise. Most mornings I have my devotions, Bible readings, and Norwegian lesson done before going out and I’m still out before the sun, just the way I like it.

Unusually we had an entire day of rain not long ago and, as our soil doesn’t absorb water very quickly, we were left with lots of sitting water. Made for some good reflections.

Presenting still life on the sidewalk. 🙂 The leaf had such a deep, rich color I couldn’t resist.

Naturally drop shots aren’t the norm either so I enjoyed seeing so many drops on this cactus pad.

We’re getting autumn colors now.

Orange color here might just come from…oranges. These are in someone’s yard but the neighborhood streets are lined with citrus trees and fruit for the taking. I just wish more of the trees were lemon trees.

Jo’s Monday Walk 1.9.23

We started our new year with, of all things, rain, rain, and more rain. After church we’d planned to do some weeding but that obviously didn’t happen. Did some reading, have beef stew in the crockpot, watching some football (American). A relaxing start to 2023.

Continuing our walk through Anderson Japanese Gardens will also give you a sense of peace as it did to me when my friend and I walked there in early November. Even the bridges were attractive as well as functional, something I’d like to see in more necessary items.

There were also beautiful views from this bridge.

We were not alone, although this creature maintained a stony silence while we were nearby.

I love this sort of path, one that invites, even lures you to walk farther. I would think children would love to jump from stone to stone.

In the best “Karate Kid” tradition, “Breathe in, breathe out” and welcome the new year in calmly. And if you still write checks, don’t forget to write “2023!” 🙂

Jo’s Monday Walk…1.2.23

Must preface this by apologizing for getting behind yesterday and not visiting many posts. Sometimes life happens.Nothing bad, just busy.

We have three more Popper sculptures to view before we leave Morton Arboretum, two today, the last tomorrow. Although this first might seem like “Split Personality” or “Two-Faced”, it is in reality nothing like either of those. According to the artist:

Recalling the inner rings at the centre of a tree trunk, Heartwood offers a lyrical meditation on the interconnectedness of humans and nature. While the work’s image might first appear fractured – with the bust of a woman cleaved in two – on closer looking, a resonant parallel becomes apparent. The heartwood of a tree marks its earliest growth and becomes, with the accumulation of annual ring, the plant’s spine; the wood dense and resistant to decay. 

The outer details are lovely too.

There were still a few flowers in bloom to go along with the autumn leaves.

You may or may not see the same meaning in “Basilica” as the artist did but even if not, it’s fine. Art is in the eye and heart and in the interpretation of the beholder.

Its title borrowed from the Greek word given first to places of gathering and later to those of worship, the work is an invocation to community and communion. While it may be without walls, with no ceiling but the sky, the artist lends Basilica’s two outstretched arms and the space they enclose the sacred resonance of a temple. 

On a very different artistic note, my husband and I have been watching lots and lots of rugby and one of the odd, funny things is that during or at the end of (or sometimes both) English matches and at least some of the 7’s tournaments, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” is played. It’s not just at rugby matches but the “good times never seemed so good” and the opportunity to belt out “So good, so good, so good” and “ba, ba, ba” has made it a favorite of a number of sporting events. That’s what I thought of when seeing this sculpture as it’s certainly reaching out. 🙂 My husband and I sing right along when whenever we hear it but I did not sing out loud this day. 🙂

Jo’s Monday Walk 12.12.22