Winter Afternoon


No wind, stringy high clouds block a bit of blue.

Someone bounces a ball next door,

I hear the intermittent sound.

Suddenly several dogs bark across the golf course green,

Suddenly stop.

Across the turquoise pool water burnt orange leaves waft downward,

some land on the pale gold rocks,

some float at the pool’s terracotta edge,

others lay across the dark green rosemary bushes.

Bird song I cannot identify fills the background.

Two men, voices loud, banter –they’re neighbors, friends.

One of their small children cries, stops, cries again.

A late day golfer strides a ball, shouts.

Breeze arises, quits, more leaves fall,

the pool and birdbath water slightly ripple.

The lemons glow against the dark green leaves,

a painting emerald and bright yellow.

I sit beside the African multi-colored granite table my son made,

admire the colors:

-succulents called fire sticks match the falling leaves.

shades of orange, red, and green.

-the pots that house them match the dark blue of the pool’s old fashioned

Mexican tile.

-roses still display a few blossoms, dark red, pale pink, peach.

Tomorrow the gardener will trim them back to help them bloom lushly n spring.

-the oleander, still green, quit blooming weeks ago.

-rosemary loves this time of year, covers itself with tiny, fragrant, grey-blue flowers.

-in the distance mountains arise, a purple haze.

Now, no sounds, only silence.

I sit in the quiet beauty, write, drink green tea, feel grateful.

Winter Evening


Orange pink shadows ripple across the turquoise pool water.

Pumpkin colored and purple leaves drift across the rosemary,

land, bright little boats floating across the turquoise water.

A phoebe, dressed in his grey tuxedo coat and white tie,

flits along the red tile at water’s edge.

Green, minuscule, a hummingbird hovers among the scarlet salvia.

Fuschia, peach, deep red roses glow in the setting sun.

Suddenly, howls break the evening silence.

Coyotes, joyful, sing to each other,

preparing for the nightly hunt.

A Christmas Tree Story


Decades ago my parents, long deceased, started going to warm Arizona from cold Missouri. They gave me their artificial Douglas fir tree. It was the old fashioned kind of tree where you had to put together a column, add alphabetically labelled limbs one by one, then add the lights of your choice, and finally the rest of the decoration. Every year I unpacked it and went to work. This year was no different except a crucial part of it was missing. I still do not know whether moving was a factor or somehow I did not pack it up correctly. Regardless, it was obvious I would not be using it. What could I salvage? The limbs, the top so I used parts of it to decorate.

I used various limbs and some unbreakable, red Christmas balls to decorate the front of my house.
I stuck the top part into a big pot and added some Christmas balls I have had for years and stuck a star on top.

Then my daughter, Ema, told me I could use her tree which is too wide for her current place. We took it out of the box, she showed me how it works, and I decorated it this afternoon. It is wider and I had to move some furniture but I love the result. I have a tree, but still could salvage parts of the tree I have treasured for all these years since Mom and Dad gave it to me.

Daylight view.
Evening view.

Now it is time to finish the shopping and wrap the gifts.

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 .

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.

IMG_4711

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

IMG_4712

IMG_4715

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

IMG_4718

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

IMG_4720

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.

IMG_4724

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

IMG_4722

IMG_4727

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

IMG_4726

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

IMG_4728

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.

IMG_0397

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.

IMG_0400

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

IMG_0412

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

IMG_0417

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.

IMG_0420

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

IMG_0442

IMG_0444

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.

IMG_0448

IMG_0427

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.

 

 

 

 

Spring–Wild Flowers in Canyon Country


Nature ignores the stresses humans suffer these days, renews, brings beauty, joy.  Luckily, I live in the country, can work online, and take walks to escape and renew. Recently, after feeding the horses in the morning, I took a walk and captured photos of all the wild flowers in bloom and some photos of the canyon where I live.  Relax, observe, breathe deep, enjoy.

IMG_4611

IMG_4612

IMG_4613

IMG_4615

See if you can find the bee.

IMG_4616

IMG_4618

Chocolate flowers.

IMG_4623

IMG_4621

IMG_4629