Surprises


Life sometimes graces you with lovely surprises, the unexpected sunrise, flowers in unusual places, the rarely seen bobcat climbing the canyon wall.  Today, tired, bag full of papers to grade, I entered my house, smelling a puzzling sweetness.  The stage manger of Les Miserable lived with me two weeks.  She left a bottle of red wine, a heartfelt note, and a bouquet, snowy lilies, golden roses, blue bells.  Lillie scent pervades the room.  I walk in beauty.  IMG_1445

Friends and Flowers


SAM_0483

 

On my way home from work today, I stopped by a friend’s house to get some Black Eyed Susans.  She and her husband run a bed and breakfast with a spectacular garden in the back.  Iris of every color are blooming, yellow, lavender and white, peach, every shade of purple, and one a combination of colors I have never seen before.  The lavender and white combined in one flower I gave her in the fall of 2012.  They rebloom and spread rather rapidly.  Because of that and the fact that I cannot bear to throw any away, I have them by the barn and here and there.  Some do better than others–a lot of the soil here is either clay or caliche or a combination, not very conducive to anything but the toughest.  She has a rose bush taller than I am which means it must be about 5’6″ or 7″.  Another deep red rose was already blooming.  She gives me flowers and I wait and see how they do or if the deer or bunnies will eat them.

Today’s weather brought perfection, a rare treat of just the right temperature, sunshine, and no wind.  When I arrived, her husband was napping in the garden in a lawn chaise.  He got up, we all walked around the garden, looked in the koi pond, and commented what flowers seemed to flourish more readily than others.  Many flowers which do well in town either die out here in the country only twelve miles away or fail to thrive.  They just sit there and do nothing.  She and I have shared flowers for years, flowers and conversation and wine.  We all decided to sit town and share some wine and cheeses and crackers and visit.  They travel widely and always have tales to tell.  He is from Jordan so we discuss world events.  Part of today’s conversation centered on Boko Haram and the differences between Shia and Sunni.  He is Sunni and I used to be married to a Shiite.  Often we discuss extremism and how it harms everyone, regardless of religion.  None of us understand the hatred some people seem to feel toward others who are different from them either my race or religion or ethnicity or gender.

As soon as I returned home and changed into gardening clothes, I fed Rosie, and planted the Black Eyed Susans with a big dose of water and root stimulator.  Who knows if they will make it.  I will wait and see.  If they do, they will contrast nicely with the purple of the catmint and the white, tiny, native Blackfoot Daisies growing wild among the other plants in my little garden.  What more can a person wish for than spending time with good friends among the flowers.  And a little wine never hurts.

 

SAM_0161

 

SAM_0461

 

SAM_1503

 

SAM_0463

 

SAM_0459

 

 

 

The Sound of Silence


For years I puzzled over what this phrase means.  This evening I discovered the answer.  Unlike the first part of the week, today was sunny, little wind, high 70s, what most consider a perfect day weather wise.  I ran home from work, gave Rosie, my horse, some food, let Isabella, my dog out for a bit, and then ran back to town to see my grandson perform.  He attends Wolflin Elementary School.  The physical education teacher selected a group of students called the SWAT Team who perform at different functions.  The last time I saw them, they performed at a local high school’s basketball tournament.  Today they executed four routines at their school’s annual gala, a fund raiser with games, food, a silent auction, dunking in the water, that sort of thing.  It really astonished me.  I have no idea how much they practiced, but these routines were not short and everything was perfectly choreographed.  First, the boys performed using basketballs to do various tricks and movements in unison to music.  Then  the girls did this complicated sort of dance over these long bamboo poles that other students clicked together.  The only other place where I have seen anything like this is in Thailand at the Rose Garden near Bangkok.  The third routine included both boys and girls and they used this giant circle of multicolored cloth to dance around, in and out, make the cloth into a sort of yurt like shape.  I have no idea how they kept it up like a giant circular tent one minute and flat the next.  Finally, they competed with hoola hoops to see who could keep going the longest.

After I returned home, I hosed off the front entryway, planted some flowers in pots, and watered other flowers, all in preparation for a fund raiser tomorrow night at my house–to raise money for a local senior citizens center.  Rosie is shedding her winter coat and seemed miserable itching so I brushed her.  Now tufts of pale rose colored hair lay everywhere in her corral.  Finally, a bit after eight I came inside for a late dinner.  Then I noticed.  No sounds, no wind, no appliances humming, no coyotes howling, no birds singing, no dogs barking, no sounds at all.  Nothing.  The patio doors are open; I walked outside a few minutes ago.  Nothing.  I sit here before the computer and hear the sounds the keys make when I hit them.  When I stop, nothing.

Rosie

 

Rosie

 

SAM_0301

 

Isabella on the patio in winter.

SAM_0160

 

They started blooming today.

A Happy Birthday with Three Penny Opera


After a certain age many of us do not expect all that exciting a birthday, but mine this past week was a huge exception to anything I could have expected.  First, on the day before, these spectacular flowers arrived from my son, Erik Karlsson.   Parie Designs in Amarillo, Texas, really knows how to do flowers out of the ordinary.

 

SAM_1478

 

Almost two weeks ago, Walker Lewis, the Director, and Jeromy  Hunt, the Production Stage Manager, of the upcoming production of Three Penny Opera (Amarillo Opera Company) arrived to stay with me for three weeks.  Yesterday, my birthday, was an off day for them.  Chad Armstrong, one of the baritones, came over to ride my  horse, Rosie.  Romy and Walker gave me a bottle of good cab and bought me a birthday cake.  We relaxed on the rim of wonder (my patio), ate, and rode Rosie.  Then last night we all went to the annual opera gala.  Unfortunately, one of the opera performer’s husband became ill so now I will have my tiny fifteen minutes of  glory playing the madame of the brothel, pretending to smoke a cigarette, counting money, and watching “my girls” and the customers, or so they tell me.  Later today, I go for a fitting and start the one week of rehearsals remaining until the first performance on Saturday night.

I could not have ordered a better birthday.

SAM_1463

Chad Armstrong on Rosie, Walker on the left and Romy on the right.

SAM_1466

While Romy, Walker, and I hiked around, Chad rode off here and there, disappearing for a while and then showing back up.  Rough riding in canyon country.  Neither Romy nor Walker had ridden since childhood.

SAM_1471

Walker Lewis learning to ride–on Rosie.  He loved it and will ride again this coming week.  He kept smiling all over!!!

SAM_1474

Romy on Rosie with my dog, Isabella resting in the shade of a juniper tree.

Apparently, riding Rosie produced so much fun that the other singers want to come over later this week and ride.  Nothing beats fun friends, fabulous food, and pretty well broke horses for a day to remember!!!

 

 

Costa Rica 6: Adventures and Views


Without a doubt Costa Rica holds my vote for most photogenic and greenest country.  From the Caribbean and Pacific rain forests to the high mountain town of Monteverde, the words lush, exotic, verdant do not even begin to describe how incredibly rich the landscape is.  One of the first spectacular views lay before me across the parking lot from a combination restaurant and souvenir shop where we stopped for snacks.

I did not expect to see multiple mountain streams like in the Rockies, but it seemed we were crossing one nearly constantly.  This abundance of water explains their nearly total dependence on hydroelectric power with a little help from wind and thermal energy.

Several of my traveling companions decided to raft this river with class 4 rapids. Something told me I should not do this.  After flipping over several times, banged up and bruised, they decided to hike out.  In  the meantime, I experienced my own adventure, eating a raw turtle egg in salsa at a family restaurant on the top of a nearby mountain.

Beautiful mountain scenery seems endless.  I kept 00hing and awing.

This view shows the Bay of Nicoya in the distance from my hotel room in Monteverde.  The following photos all show views in the mountains near this little remote town.  There is only one road in and out and it is not paved and it is narrow.  The town was originally settled by Quakers from Canada who still believe a paved road will ruin the peaceful lifestyle.  Both the Quakers and the town are famous for their cheese which was served both plain and fried for breakfast.

This area provides both zip lining and horseback riding for tourists.  I elected to ride.  However, these horses did not seem well fed and certainly did not want to go very fast.  Although I saw a lot of horses in Costa Rica, these were by far the thinest.

The guy who lead us did not ride one of these.  He was riding a fancy, prancing, grey Paso Fino.

Look closely and you can see someone zip lining across the forested canyon hundreds of feet below.

When I asked about this tree, I was told it is related to cacao, but not eaten, not by humans anyway.

We traveled down the mountain on another dirt road to visit this elementary school.  It housed grades 1-6 with one teacher who is also the principal.  The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 98.5.

Playing soccer with the students.

A port on the Pacific on the way to the surfing town of Jaco.  Costa Rica exports many agricultural products from both its Pacific and Caribbean ports.  This includes bananas, pineapples, hearts of palms, and many tropical flowers.

While many beaches remain unsafe for swimming due to a strong undertow, the beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park are perfect.

To get into Manuel Antonio you have to walk and no parking exists really close.  Hiking out we crossed an area where the water rushed around our knees and the sign said, “No Swimming, Crocodiles”.

As a farmer, I like to look at and photograph crops.  With all the rain and heat, Costa Rica is the perfect climate for many tropical fruits and rice.  On the way back from Manuel Antonio we passed miles of rice fields and Aftican palms which produce palm oil.

Rice.

Coffee, the main export of Costa Rica.  In the highlands, coffee grows everywhere even along the berms in places so steep I wondered how the person picking the beans did not fall over.  Of course, I wondered the same thing about the dairy cattle grazing on the mountain slopes.

We did stop in Sarchi, the town famous for its furniture and oxcart industry.  Oxcarts remain the national symbol of Costa Rica.  Because of the mountainous terrain, when Costa Rican coffee initially became famous and its most successful crop, the only way to get the coffee to the coasts for export was to use oxcarts.

We spent very little time in cities.  However, as we left San Jose near the end of the trip and headed for the Caribbean side, I took some hurried photographs out the window.

My first and last hotel window view in San Jose included these stately coconut palms.

PURA VIDA