Heroes Proved and Patriot Dream

My son at White Sands National Monument, NM. Photo taken by his sister Morgan. Isn’t this photo is outstanding?!

Selfie: me and my son.

Me, my son, and his buddy.

Lucky me! My flexible schedule allowed me to plan a last minute trip to visit my son before he deployed. The last two stanzas of America the Beautiful bring tears to my eyes.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

 

For more info: Soledad Canyon, White Sands National Monument

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Amber Waves and Mountain Majesties

Soledad Canyon in the Organ Mountains, New Mexico

On a recent trip to El Paso, Texas, my son and I drove to Las Cruces, New Mexico to hike Soledad Canyon. The canyon sits in the western foothills of the Organ Mountains, which originated about 32 million years ago in the middle of the Tertiary Period. I immediately thought of America the Beautiful.

Here are the first two stanzas of America the Beautiful.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

If you’ve been to the Southwest, did you have a favorite place to hike?

Source: http://www.npshistory.com/publications/blm/organ-mountains-desert-peaks/geology.pdf

Top Ten Cool Facts About Plains Lubber Grasshoppers

Plains Lubber Grasshopper

In my last post, Tarantula Territory, I lamented that I didn’t see any tarantulas on a hike but, guess what I did see? A Plains Lubber Grasshopper! The approximately five-inch insect caught my attention–how could it not?–and I had to get a closer look. I looked at her and she at me. We bonded.

I can’t believe I got such a clear photo of her awesome exoskeleton, which protects her against predators and prevents dehydration. (Come to think of it, that could be a great pick-up line. “Excuse me, but you have an awesome exoskeleton.”) Plains Lubbers are native to southern and central USA and Northern Mexico.

Top Ten Cool Facts About Plains Lubber Grasshoppers

  1. A Plains Lubber can’t fly because its wings are too small.
  2. A lubber has a pod that holds approximately 20-35 eggs. After incubating in the ground during the colder months, or for as long as two years, the eggs hatch in May or June.
  3. It uses two pairs of eyes (simple and compound) to see.
  4. It uses its bluish-brown antennae to feel and smell.
  5. The tympanum, or round membrane located on either side of its body near its legs allows it to “hear” or detect sound waves.
  6. To breathe, it has spiracles, or tiny holes located all along the abdomen.
  7. A lubber is capable of jumping from several inches to several feet using its oversized hind legs.
  8. A young lubber will molt its exoskeleton five times at roughly 15-day intervals before reaching adulthood.
  9. Bright coloring and patterning on a lubber’s shell warns predators that it’s unpalatable to downright poisonous. A lubber ingests substances in the plants it eats that, although harmless to humans and the lubber itself, are toxic to many predators. These chemicals may kill smaller creatures such as birds or leave larger animals quite ill after ingesting a lubber.
  10. To protect against predators, a lubber can secrete a noxious foam while making a loud hissing sound. It can also regurgitate a dark brown liquid (commonly called tobacco spit) as a defense.

Hon, which category are you in? Cool or ewww?

For all of the ewww’s, consider the photos below as visual palette cleansers.

Peace along the path.

I “heart” hiking.

 

 

 

 

 

Reaching for the sky.

Sources: The Big Zoo, American Orchid SocietyWikipedia, 

Tarantula Territory

Warning signs.

Quick Quiz

A sign says, “Please yield for tarantulas on the road.” What do you do?

a) Hightail it out of there and head to civilization or a mini mall?

b) Hike in moon boots or platform shoes?

c) Get super excited and keep your eyes peeled for large creepy-crawlies?

Hon, if you chose C, we’ll be very good friends! Two weeks ago, before a hike in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains, I asked a park ranger why tarantulas might be on the road. He said it’s mating season. Cool!

Did “Caution!! Watch for Snakes” catch your eye? Even though two exclamation marks follow “caution,” snakes took a backseat to the hopeful main event–spotting a tarantula. Unfortunately, my childhood friend Cindy and I didn’t spot any. Years before in New Mexico, I did.

While driving 60 mph along a flat highway on the Turquoise Trail, I screamed, “Stop the car!” Hubby wanted to know why, but I didn’t have time to explain.

A tarantula was crossing the highway and I needed to see it up close! It was bigger than my hand!

I tried to record the big, hairy, brown spider, so I grabbed the only thing I could think of–a pencil. I placed (umm, threw) it on the ground next to the enormous arachnid and snapped a picture. I know I’m talking to “seasoned” (read: older) picture takers when I say my camera took film. It wasn’t until I got the film developed that I realized the photo was blurry. Oh well! I’ll always remember that tarantula, who somehow knew he had enough time between cars to cross the highway. Cool!

Fog hanging over the Sandia Mountains.

Chuya cactus.

Selfie of Cindy and me.

Antlers on an Airplane?

Live country music at Albuquerque International Sunport.

I’ve flown in and out of Albuquerque International Sunport many times but, on a recent trip, I entered the airport to twangs of live country music. Yeehaw! I thought, “That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen at an airport.” I was wrong.

Moose antlers that were shed naturally for sale on the side of road in Maine.

Waiting to board our flight was a man carrying a rack of antlers about 5 feet wide! The tips were outfitted with cut up pieces of hose stuffed with foam. Why? Because antlers are weapons!

It begged a lot of questions.

Passenger: “How did you get them through security?”

Man: “They told me to bring them to the gate.”

Passenger: “Did you buy extra seats?”

Man: “Nope.”

Passenger: “Where will they go on the plane?”

Man: “Dunno.”

Mind you, you can’t bring scissors longer than 4 inches on a plane.

Once boarding started, the ticket agent was apoplectic.

First, he said. “Whoa! Where do you think you’re going?”

Second, “If you read what cannot come on a plane, antlers are on the list.”

To his colleague, “If I see one more pair of antlers today, I’m going home.”

Then the ticket agent made a phone call.

“Calling Security! We have a pair of antlers to check!”

Roof Garden Art, The Theater of Disappearance

Stork.

Baby.

A visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the roof. Not only do you get an amazing view of Manhattan, you get to explore changing exhibitions. On view until October 29, 2017 is sculptor Adrián Villar RojasThe Theater of Disappearance, a “performative diorama, where banquet tables occupy an oversize black-and-white checkerboard floor punctuated by sculptures that fuse together human figures and artifacts found within the museum. The resulting juxtapositions put forth a radical reinterpretation of museum practices.”

Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas has transformed the Cantor Roof with an intricate site-specific installation that uses the Museum itself as its raw material. Featuring detailed replicas of nearly 100 objects from The Met collection, The Theater of Disappearance encompasses thousands of years of artistic production over several continents and cultures, and fuses them with facsimiles of contemporary human figures as well as furniture, animals, cutlery, and food. Each object—whether a 1,000-year-old decorative plate or a human hand—is rendered in the same black or white material and coated in a thin layer of dust.

The artist has reconfigured the environment of the Cantor Roof by adding a new pergola, a grand tiled floor, a bar, public benches and augmented planting throughout the space. The Met’s own alphabet has even been incorporated into the graphic identity of the project. To realize this extensive work, the artist immersed himself in the Museum and its staff for many months, holding conversations with the curators, conservators, managers, and technicians across every department who contributed to the realization of this installation.

Hidden woman.

Traveler.

Kissing couple.

Man with eels and rock.

Masked man.

In honor of my love of art, and especially Impressionists, check out new Edgar Degas exhibits on Artsy. In addition to Degas’s bio, over 200 of his works, and exclusive articles, you’ll find up-to-date Degas exhibition listings such as The National Gallery in London exhibit Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell, and an upcoming show at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Related post: Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty

Happy viewing, hon.

Spring’s Secret Garden

Monarch feeding on a Butterfly Bush.

The Secret Garden was one of the classics I read to my children. We spent many hours in the car driving to Maryland and Long Island to visit family (hon, trust me, we know every rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike), and made the time pass quickly by learning language, discovering stories, discussing characters and predicting plots. I only found out later that “brain imaging has suggested that hearing stories evokes visual images in children’s brains, and more strongly if those children are accustomed to being read to.” (The Merits of Reading Real Books to Your Children  by Perri Klass, M.D.,The New York Times)

Wait! What? Something I did was good for my kids? Woohoo! Hopefully, that balances out the other stuff that might not have been, ummm, as advantageous.

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Glass Tea House, Venice Architecture Biennale

View from the bell tower of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice.

Another view.

Sign in the bell tower.

Last summer in Venice, my daughter and I discovered something beautiful and peaceful behind the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. We had taken the vaparetto, or water taxi, to the island of San Giorgio to see the views from the bell tower. We spotted a bright blue rectangle and we were curious. 

The hidden gem turned out to be a teahouse at the museum Le Stanze del Vetro. Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto designed Glass Tea House Mondrian for the Venice Architecture Biennale.

The ‘Glass Tea House Mondrian’ by Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto unites wood, glass and water as a pavilion, holding the traditional japanese tea ceremony within its transparent walls. The temporary structure consists of two main elements: an open-air landscape courtyard and an enclosed glass cube.

The garden follows a path leading along a forty-foot-long reflecting pool completely covered in Bisazza mosaic, guiding the visitor to a lucent space, inside which the cultural ritual is performed. The pavilion hosts two visitors at once, together with the master of the tea ceremony, while the other spectators can take part by watching around the perimeter of the reflecting pool.

Relating to its surrounding environment and the historical context of the site, Sugimoto’s ‘Glass Tea House’ suggests a subtle analogy between the ancient tea ceremony practice and the art of venetian glassmaking.

Glass Tea House Mondrian by Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Click here to read an interview with Sugimoto. Click here to see how the tea house was assembled.

Happy exploring, hon.

Source: Designboom.com

Art Materials in Italy

IMG_0344 (1)In Italy, art is everywhere. I expected to see art in museums and galleries, but I was surprised by the materials. On display, pigments, glass rods, silk cords, paintbrushes, metal, work tables and weaving looms become their own sort of art. They beckon creativity to come out and play.

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Off the Grid in Italy

Morgan and me in Tuscany.

Mom and daughter trip to Tuscany.

Tuscany is Bellissimo!

I haven’t posted in awhile for a very good reason…I was in Italy! I was practically off the grid with unreliable Wifi and no phone plan. My daughter became our navigator with her grasp of Italian and her own data plan. Look forward to lots of pics and posts about Venice, Bologna, Siena and Rome.

I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. Where to next?

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