Celebrating Earth Day–Photos


I decided the best way I should share my reverence and love for nature and this precious planet on which we live is to share photos from various countries, states, and my own little piece of wonder.

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The three photos above were taken at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas about ten minutes from where I live.

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Above and below the Rio Grande looking into Mexico.

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Four photos above — Big Bend National Park.

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Between Marfa and Alpine, Texas.

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The Rio Grande north of Albuquerque on the Santa Ana Pueblo Nation.

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The above four photos taken in Simien Mountain National Park, Ethiopia.  The animals are gelada–the only surviving grass eating primates found solely in Ethiopia.  They actually “talk” to each other.

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Menelik’s Window, Ethiopia

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Awash Falls, Ethiopia

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Where the Blue Nile begins draining from Lake Tana, Ethiopia

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The photos above were taken at various places in Costa Rica.

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Northern New Mexico

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Grand Canyon North Rim

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The Missouri River running full.

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California dropping down from Sequoia National Monument

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Near Lake Marvin, Texas

Sunday Sunrise ©Dawn Wink

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The above photos were all taken within the last year on my little rim of wonder.

And finally below, my favorite animal.

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Sunday Poem–A Life


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I wrote the first blog post about this in February, a second a few weeks later.  The following poem I wrote a week ago but never posted:  too upset, too sad, too filled with regrets I could have no way fixed because I did not even know all the story.  He remained unconscious for two months from late January until March 22.  It seems strange that the memories of a life I lived so long ago, mostly forgotten, could surge into so many waking moments now years later.  Life:  always filled with wonder, surprises.

yesterday we put his body in the ground

the wind blew through the trees

whispering green spring, beauty

yesterday we put his body in the ground

the man I loved, beautiful mahogany velvet

dazzled the world with his smile

yesterday we put his body in the ground

my daughter’s father, standing with family

some we had never seen before, worldwide

yesterday we put his body in the ground

watched a life flash by, slides from baby

to our life long ago, other lives and children

yesterday we put his body in the ground

family, friends, two of his children

a life struck down, too suddenly, too soon

In honor of the life of Kenneth A. Mowoe

You will not be forgotten, your memory lives on with me, your family, your children and grandchildren, your friends.  Peace.  Love.

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A Week of Wonder and Flowers


 

This past week was my birthday.  The wonder started a week ago when my friends came for dinner and my friend’s father, visiting from Mexico. brought me red roses.  I had not seen my friends in a long time and it was fun.  Then on Sunday, Roberto, the father, and I went hiking in Palo Duro Canyon on a new trail.  I never saw a name for it.

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We found this trail by starting at Chinaberry (for those who go to the Canyon), taking Comanche Trail up to this new trail.  When they intersect, we went north rather than south on Comanche.

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If you read the previous blog in December about hiking Comanche, you saw this peak but from the center and to the south.  This is a view from the north looking south.

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Eventually, after hiking up and down across an arroyo, you end up above the river which looks tiny here, but when a big rain comes, it can rise many feet in a few hours.  It was very sunny, I had a hard time focusing so occasionally a finger got in the way.

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Roberto has a funny sense of humor.  He could not resist pretending to hold up one of the many giant boulders along the trail.

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This is not a difficult walk and not too long if you only have a few hours.  We came across a group of wild turkeys, but they moved so much, I was unable to get a good photo so gave up.

Wednesday was my birthday.  It began with my first period class–I teach senior high school English.  They showered the room with confetti, brought me a giant chocolate muffin with a candle in the middle, lit the candle and sang me Happy Birthday.  Then during second period, two of my students arrived with two bouquets of flowers.  The room smelled wonderful for three days.  I brought the flowers home yesterday in a big box.

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My grandson told the florist to make me a giant bouquet with exotic flowers.  This is one side of it.  Orchids, roses, hydrangeas, and some really unusual flowers which I cannot identify.

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This is the other side of the same bouquet.

This bouquet is from my son.  He knows my favorite color is orange and that I have a lot of that color in my house so….

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I am seriously nerdy and asked for an atlas for my birthday.  My daughter outdid herself and bought this one full of all sorts of information I never expected and maps.  I love maps.  When I read a book from Latin America, Africa, etc., I look up the places on maps.

Last night I sang songs, using the poems of Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda among others, with the Amarillo Master Chorale in a church with perfect acoustics for choral music.  Tonight I will see friends at an opera party.  What a wonderful week!!

Spring Break Adventure–5


On the fourth day of the adventure we went to Marfa, Texas.  My friends from college, David and Suzy, had booked a tour of the Chinati Foundation.  No photos of that because none allowed.  This foundation is the dream of its founder, Donald Judd.  His art and almost all the rest of the art housed here is not for display in houses.  All but a few consist of grand studies of space and light. An abandoned, refurbished military base, purchased by Judd, houses most of the exhibits.  Judd’s main interest it seems relates to the relationship between light and space.  First, the tour guide takes you to a couple of large buildings where the only changes made were to install new windows and a ceiling.  These buildings house Judd’s large, polished, stainless steel rectangular boxes.  While this may sound boring, I assure you it is not.  Light reflects off these boxes, makes shadows, etc. in all sorts of ways and the entire effect changes with the angles of the sunlight.

Another quite astonishing display can be seen in a series of U-shaped buildings, painted and repaired, in which eight foot long fluorescent light tubes in four colors, pink, green, yellow, and blue, have been installed in the corners of the U.  Depending on where a person stands, other colors appear, not just the four mentioned.  It became apparent to me that the artist, Dan Flavin, knew every scientific detail of the color spectrum and its effects on the human eye and brain.

I also enjoyed a smaller display by artist and poet, Carl Andre.  Even though his fame rests in sculpture, it is mainly his poetry displayed here.  I wanted to read all of it but everyone else went on so I quit.

There are other exhibits, including a lot of smashed and welded vehicles which I liked the least.  The final exhibit displays giant fabric sheets in black and white in a building specially designed by the artist, Robert Irwin.  If you think this sounds boring, take a trip there and look for yourself.  I assure you it is not.  Irwin actually worked on the exhibit himself at the age of 88.  He lives on now at 89.

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The only photos I managed in the area show the Marfa Courthouse which is, believe it or not, even a brighter pink than this photo and a photo from the vehicle window on the highway to Alpine. The second photo shows a mesa we managed to view on one day or another from nearly all sides.  It looms large in the middle of flat land. Here one of the endless trains slides by.

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On our last day we decided to drive to Presidio and take the river road which goes through Rio Grande Ranch State Park. While the road goes either along or down to the river in a few places (for people to put some sort of water craft into the river or to camp), most of it is way above the river on cliffs.  This landscape is not for the faint of heart.

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US on the right and Mexico on the left.  The fields and pasture in the distance are in Mexico.

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Looking into Mexico.

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Unusual rock formations near one of the small drives down to a campground by the river.

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Cliffs in Mexico.

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Apparently, in my efforts not to fall in the river while taking this, my finger got in the way.

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Yes, the river is down there between those cliffs.

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In case you wonder why the Rio Grande seems so small here, consider that by the time it gets here, 95% of the water has been removed for irrigation and other purposes.

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We drove back through Terlingua to Alpine.  Not much exists in Terlingua except a rather pathetic supposed ghost town area.  The river road is not conducive to speed; we were hungry and stopped for a very late lunch.  It was St. Patrick’s Day and many of the clientele had a good start on the festivities.  On Saturday I learned that Terlingua is a famous biker town.  However, apparently not that day.

Spring Break Adventure–4


 

Today was the second day at Big Bend.  We spent most of the day in the Chisos Basin where the park lodge is located.  The four of us started the hike all the way to the “window” and two of us finished it, which enabled me to not only experience a hike full of wonder but also to get over 20000 on my Fitbit for the day.  I also have a sunburn now.  For this post I will just add photos with little comment.  Later I will add more details about this astonishing place.

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Although I took some of these photos, I did not take anything on the hike so thanks to a friend you are seeing some of these.  This is bear and mountain lion country so there are signs telling you what to do if you see one, hardly likely with so many people around.  However, all the campsites have metal containers in which to lock food from bears.

Spring Break Adventure–3


Today was day one in Big Bend National Park.  This place is huge.  We drove down to the Rio Grande, took a hike up a big hill/cliff above it, and later drove off on a gravel road which became a bit daunting at times–four wheel drive only. We saw people riding horses across the desert, others canoeing down the river, all sorts of mountains, cactus in bloom, ruined corrals from a extinct ranch, and passed a border control check point–nothing new really.  Used to get checked all the time down near the border. Here are photos I took along the way.

 

Spring Break Adventure–2


Today we went to MacDonald Observatory and signed up for a tour.  It was more than we imagined.

The views 360 degrees since you are at the top are, well, spectacular.

In the distance a cloud bank hung over the mountains.

I stood back to take a photo of the different buildings that house the actual telescopes.

We entered the building on the right which houses the 107 inch telescope and walked up 77 stair steps to see it.

 

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It is too large to get a photo of the entire telescope.  Depending on what the astronomers want to study, different parts are added and subtracted.  The room is temperature controlled between 40 and 50 degrees. The photo below shows another area with a different type of telescope currently under construction.

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After leaving here, we took a scenic drive in a circle through the mountains.

We were especially impressed with the unusual rock formations and the giant cotton wood trees of which we saw dozens along a stream bed.

Spring Break Adventure-1


Yesterday I left Canyon, Texas, headed for Alpine.  If you decide to drive south to the Big Bend area from the Panhandle, be prepared for a rather long and boring six hours of driving.

First, you pass at least an hour of looking at camel colored dry grass in all directions.  I had not realized the grass fires had reached south of Amarillo but in one area burned grass stretched across both sides of I-27 and on the medium in between.  I would not have wanted to be driving down the highway while this was on fire.

Close to Lubbock the cotton fields begin. With spring planting approaching, most of the fields were already cultivated ready to plant.  This “scenery”, except for driving through Lubbock, continues for at least another three hours.  About 1/2 to one hour before the Odessa/Midland area, you hit the really ugly.  Since I am one of those people who can find beauty just about anywhere, if I say it is ugly, most people would find it even worse.  Miles and miles of nothing but mesquite, brush, and oil rigs stretch endlessly in every direction.  Why would anyone want to live here?  Money, money, money.  Apparently, they expect to make even more soon because new drilling rigs popped up within sight of the road everywhere.  In the short distance where I cut off on a two lane highway to get from I-20 to I-10, I saw five new drilling rigs.  The scenery does improve a bit in this area because you can suddenly see the Davis Mountains looming large not too far away. It reminded me of my childhood when my family would head across eastern Colorado and how excited we became when we could see our destination, the Rockies, in the distance.

Once you drive two minutes or so on I-10 and then cut off south toward Fort Davis, the scenery becomes dramatic, something to really see and enjoy.  Although it is too early for the grass to have become very green, the cottonwood trees have leafed out and what a sight they are.  Huge is an understatement.  It would take the width of at least six of me to make one of these impressive trees.  Apparently, I was not the only one who viewed them as something special.  People were driving off the highway to stand by them.  One woman stared up into the newly green leaves, a look of wonder on her face.  I thought I was late to meet friends in Alpine so did not stop.  In the end we arrived at Alpine at the same time for our yearly get together–friends since college when we were roommates with her husband who went to college with us and another friend.

After a fabulous dinner at the old hotel here, we retired to our rooms to get ready for the real adventures of this week:  the Observatory-today’s goal, Marfa, Big Bend.  I really tried to sleep late, but alas I should have known better. Here I am writing away early in the morning.

 

 

 

A Week of Gratitude (cont.)


Although I intend to continue with gratitude thoughts and lists, this is my last post of this one week exercise.

Saturday’s list includes:

-Cooking for and enjoying the company of close friends.

-Listening to music I love–Angelique Kidjo, Rokia Traore, Cesaria Evora, Conjunto Primavera.

Sunday’s list includes:

-Enjoying springlike weather with birds singing.

-Accomplishing spring cleaning in my xeriscape flower beds.

-Trying a Japanese sauce I never tasted before–yakiniku.  I used it with chicken and bok choy over Jasmine rice.  This included marinating grated carrots in mirin, another Japanese sauce which I especially like.

-Watching a deer disappear through the junipers.

-Enjoying the warm weather from my patio.

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