Moving — 1


In case you wonder where I have been, it’s called moving which can be both exciting and stressful especially if you are moving half way across the country. In my last post I posted the last photos of the house I had built and where I lived the last 13 years. In mid June I went house hunting in the San Gabriel Valley in northeastern LA County. Here are some photos I took while there.

This is the backside of Santa Anita Racetrack.
Downtown Monrovia, CA
Every Friday eve they block off this street and have a street fair with vendors and live music.

I did find a house but won’t be moving there until later in August. Meanwhile, here I am still in Amarillo, saying goodbye to friends, hanging out at my daughter’s house until it closes–she has already moved to CA, packing more stuff, reading books, and walking Athena, my standard poodle, to get enough exercise.

A tiny view of part of the yard of my new house. That is a lemon tree.

Bittersweet


Ten days ago I took the final photos of the house I originally built as my dream home. Events occur, life changes, new adventures await. Final photos taken from the patio, great room, and walkway to the barn of the house where I lived the last 13 years.

Now I am in The San Gabriel Valley in northeastern LA County house hunting. The trees here, the flowers, the succulents astonish. Purple jacaranda trees in full bloom line many streets. Yesterday evening while out strolling around the hotel grounds for some exercise, I saw the largest humming bird I have ever seen. I feel excited to start this new adventure.

Boxes and Handprints


This morning my house looked close to normal in spite of all the packing I had already done. I began with meditation, made coffee same as always, completed my yoga routine, ate some yogurt with walnuts. Normal ended there. I moved the car out of the garage, hiked to the gate and opened it, waited for the professional packers, figured it would take them two days. These two guys–twins probably in their 50s–are speedy. Even after getting lost and finally arriving close to ten and taking a lunch break, they have packed a lot of my life today.

Mom’s crystal, hand-painted dishes, Grandmother’s (whom I never knew) dishes, the silverware Dad gave mom on their first wedding anniversary, all the little painted china pieceds D’mitri made for me reside somewhere in these boxes.

These hold CDs and movies collected over a couple of decades, corn maiden Kachina dolls, a Navaho hoop dancer, Talavera pots, a Thai spirit house–so much of me.

I thought last night would be my last here, but I am staying tonight. All they have left to pack now are clothes, the TV, and this computer. They said they would leave this to last so I could still use it. It is a lovely evening looking down the canyon, a golden light hard to capture with an iPAD.

One of the hardest things to leave is D’mitri’s four year old handprints in the cement by the garage. He graduates from high school one year early on Friday. Yes, I will miss this beautiful setting, what I thought was my dream house, the canyon, the wildlife. Nevertheless, I am looking onward to new adventures in a new setting, making new friends, and seeing old ones more often whom I rarely see now.

Five Days: Tornadoes, Dust, Wind, 76, Blizzard


Hunkered down with two pillows–“Safe Place”??

Check TV to track tornadoes

It quits

Try to read, can’t

TV returns, tells me maybe safe

Tornados went east a few miles

Next day tan fog–dust

Wind, can’t stand up

Then spring, 76 degrees, birds sing,

sit on patio, sip tea.

Next morning, blizzard, wind roars,

no electricity, white out,

read by flashlight.

Electricity returns.

Thankful!

Reflections–Old Year, New Year


Most 2020 goodbyes ring with epithets on the horrors of 2020. I object. 2020 brought bad, yes, mainly due to Covid 19’s effects on the lives of masses. It also enlightened us:

-staying home makes cleaner air.

-staying home increases home gardening and thus healthier eating.

-staying home leads to a slower, more thoughtful life, to extra time with family.

-staying home reconnects us with ourselves.

2020 lead to positives that have nothing to do with Covid 19:

-increased awareness and concern for the lives of others different from ourselves.

-increased awareness that discrimination and brutality among our police exists and we need to fix it.

-increased awareness of the ever growing income gaps in our society.

Covid 19 did bring:

-an increased awareness of the impacts of any pandemic and that we must prepare ourselves because there will be more.

-an increased appreciation of essential workers and their roles in our everyday lives.

-an increased appreciation for nurses and doctors and other health care workers.

Spring will come,

flowers will bloom,

birds will sing.

Yesterday, I heard Bishop Michael Curry speak on national news. I will close with one sentence which remains with me:

“Love is a commitment to the Common Good.”

Wandering the World–Recent Road Trip


My family and I took a quick road trip to California and back over the Thanksgiving break. Why now in the time of Covid? Grandson is applying to colleges in CA and needed to see what he could. We did stay in hotels, picked them carefully, did not use any services–most are currently not available anyway. You put used towels, etc. in the hall, go to the main desk to pick up more yourself, etc. It was fine. For meals we did takeout and ate at the hotel. Twice we did eat at a restaurant outside where there was no one near. It was possible because it was not cold. I took a few photos which follow.

On a side street in a little town next to Pasadena.
Camp Pendleton Marine Base near San Diego.

Near the UPS store in San Luis Obispo.

At the University of San Francisco, one of the few places where we were able to get out of the car and walk around.

Crossing the Gold Gate Bridge on Thanksgiving Day on the way to Muir Woods.

This and the following several photos were taken among the redwoods at Muir Woods. This is how we spent Thanksgiving Day.

If you stay on the main, paved paths, it is rather noisy. Even when there are signs for people to be quiet, they talk.
Off the paved path all we could hear was one very annoyed crow.
On our way back we crossed the Golden Gate again. In the following photo, Alcatraz is off in the distance.
On the way to Flagstaff, where we stayed the first night, we had wanted to stop by Petrified Forest National Park but arrived about five minutes too late. Therefore, we made a point to drive all the way through on the way home.
Rather difficult to believe that a lot of this was once a swamp with dinosaurs and huge trees.

On the way out or in, depending on which way you go, you can see the Painted Desert. Guess I caught my own shadow in this one.

Wandering the World–Italy, Part Two


It is an hour or so boat ride from Sorrento to Capri. Although not very crowded in November, apparently it is tourist heaven in the summer. The lower town contains many of the world’s major high end stores. This time of year most remained closed. Even though I am not a big fan of touristy destinations, I thoroughly enjoyed our day on Capri. I doubt I would like it so much in high season.

Looking down on the lower, main town from the town high on the island, Ana Capri. At the far point one can hike to the remains of Tiberius’ villa, where he hid the last ten years of his reign as Emperor of Rome. If he did not like you, off the cliff you went. I was standing on a trail with over 900 steps, carved by the Greeks even before the Roman times, that lead down to the lower town.
This walkway leads to the path mentioned in the previous photo. This time of year Capri is lush, relaxing, and peaceful.
This shop, among the few that were open, sold all sorts of chocolates with various limoncello products. The combination of chocolate, limoncello, and almonds is a taste of heaven.

I took all the above photos while strolling along the walkway shown in the third photo. Beauty lay everywhere I looked.

Capri is rugged. Houses hang off cliff edges, steep roads climb up and down near the sea’s edge. We strolled, went to a garden, found a little place to sit on steps and drink cappuccino .

Wandering the World–Italy, Part One


Last November I spent a little over a week in Italy. We spent only 1/2 day in Rome then drove to Sorrento where we stayed for a week. From there we wandered down the Amalfi Coast, over to Naples, Pompeii, and Capri. Want to avoid the summer heat and crowds? Go in November. Yes, it is chilly and sometimes rainy with big storms at night. Nevertheless, you can really see what people do who live there and avoid masses of tourists. Here are some of my favorite photos:

The above photos taken in Rome. The following were taken in Sorrento.

Vesuvius. I think I saw it nearly every day.

Hiking in the Heat


For several weeks I noticed big bright white blossoms on tall stalks as I looked across the canyon in the evenings just before dusk. While it was still hot even at 8 during this latest heat wave, I hiked across the canyon for a look, taking various photos as I strolled along.

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When it rains, water drains into this arroyo and crashes over the cliff near my bedroom.

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Never bulldozed or cleared, this land allows ancient junipers to continue to thrive.

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No water dropping off the cliff on these hot, dry days.

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The flowers I could see from my house across the canyon.  My wildflower book tells me these are a type of Stickleaf. To take a photo of the other flower, I had to climb up an incline covered with gypsum.

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My dog, Athena, and I continued our hike along the canyon edge.

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It was beginning to get dark as we headed back to the house.

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I can also see this bush from across the canyon.  I see no others like it and do not know what it is.

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Headed back home along the canyon’s rocky edge.

 

The Churches of Lalibela


Last night part of 60 Minutes featured these churches.  Several years ago I went with friends from Ethiopia to see them.  We spent almost an entire day hiking through around and up and down all eleven of them. I decided to travel back a few years and relive my experiences there and share it here.

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800 years ago these churches were carved from the top down out of solid stone. They dug a trench deep all around what is now each church and then worked from there.  Everything is stone, including the interior columns and spaces.

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There are areas around all the churches and drainage canals so they do not flood in the rainy season.

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The inside of each church is decorated with carvings, frescoes, and wall hangings.

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Because 800 years of wear and tear and especially rain was beginning to take its toll, they covered them several years ago.  Now, according the the architect on 60 Minutes, they are experiencing the opposite problem.  The stone is getting too dry and contracting. They are teaching local people how to preserve the stone so it will last hundreds more years.

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Dino, my Ethiopia friend, and the guide, in white.

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Why the ridiculous looking socks?  Fleas are a problem.  Many of the churches have old carpet on the floors, thousands of people still workshop in them regularly.  We were told to spray our ankles, tuck our pants inside out socks, spray our socks. It worked.

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And here is probably the most photographed of them from up above. Yes, you do get to climb all the way down there if you want to go inside.  We did. The story goes that the king went to Jerusalem and wanted to create an Ethiopian Jerusalem.  There is a river nearby which they call the River Jordan. As you tour, they explain every detail and how they match passages and stories from the Biblical Jerusalem.  How did they build all of these out of solid stone?  With the help of angels.