The cars at Trader Joe’s had a lot to say today! I think I’ll let them do the talking for me.
Which one is your favorite? Do you have a bumper sticker on your car?
The cars at Trader Joe’s had a lot to say today! I think I’ll let them do the talking for me.
Which one is your favorite? Do you have a bumper sticker on your car?
It rarely snows in Tucson, Arizona, but when it does, it’s a pretty big deal.
There was a dusting of snow to our north last night, and probably five inches of the stuff 25 miles up the road, in Oracle State Park, which is where I went today to take photos. The place was swarming with “snow peepers,” and some of them were building snowmen.
Here’s one of my snowmen photos. But this snowman isn’t really a man, is it? Because he (it?) has three ears (horns?) and wings (gigantic shoulder muscles?). Obviously, it was built by a bunch of men with issues. I won’t say what their issues are, but what’s that guy in the red jacket pointing at?
Here’s another snowman. This one is more typical of the ones I saw in Oracle today:
Obviously, we southwest Arizona residents aren’t too good at building snowmen. But then, can you blame us? It only snows one day a year here! We need more practice.
On my way out of the park, I spotted this 2-foot tall model pointing the way:
I think this minimalist sculpture was the best little snowman of all.
If you like snowmen, you’ll probably enjoy listening to my song about them, called “Gonna Build a Snowman.” It’s guaranteed to get you in touch with your inner child, and you can listen now, for free, here:
Just click the link, then click “Gonna Build a Snowman.”
Happy Snow Year!
How are you celebrating New Year’s Eve?
They’re predicting snow and ice tonight, so I’m staying home with my Trader Joe’s frozen hors d’oeuvres, bottle of wine, and internet streaming. And just in case you’re doing likewise, here’s a suggestion:
Log onto YouTube and watch my latest attempt at video stardom, Desert Spiny Lizard Blues. It features a song I wrote about a lizard who uses acronyms. (You may remember it from my previous post, A Lizard’s Tale.) Given enough champagne, I’m predicting you’ll enjoy it even more than watching the ball drop.
If you DO enjoy it, please feel free to give it a thumbs up, and share it with your friends! Once again, here’s the link:
Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful, joyous, adventurous, and successful 2019.
I see that the year’s almost finished
my calendar tells me it’s true
and lately my posting’s diminished
I have no excuses for you
I blogged every day in November
except for the days I did not
but now, toward the end of December,
I’m finding my blogging skills shot
It’s been a long time since I posted
a month, maybe more, I would guess
you probably thought that I’d ghosted
or that my life’s turned out a mess
But that isn’t true, I’m just lazy
or maybe I’m just on a break
or possibly I’ve gone quite crazy
or could be I’ve jumped in a lake
I don’t believe anyone’s noticed,
I doubt that my presence was missed
it’s not like I’m missing in action
I’m not on the Most Wanted list
But nevertheless, I am back now
just saying hello with this verse
to serve as a silly reminder
that I’m here, for better or worse.
Happy New Year!
In 2010, I was hiking near the San Pedro River when I was inspired to write a song about the planets.
You may be wondering (as I was at first) how a walk in the woods could turn into a song about outer space. Well, I can explain. Meet my muse, the vermilion flycatcher.
There I was, minding my own business, walking through the woods on a bright autumn day, thinking about trees and sky and birds. I was hoping to see a vermilion flycatcher. I didn’t see one that day, but I think one must have been up in the trees looking down at me.
As I walked along, I was filled with a beautiful feeling. Maybe it was the fresh air, the blue sky, or the bright sunshine, but I felt a song coming on. I thought it was going to be about that bird.
But when I got home, the words that came out were about two planets instead. Earth and Mars. I think I wanted to write about Earth, and thoughts of the vermilion flycatcher made me think of the color red. Somehow the two came together into this song about two best friends in space, Eartha Tierra (Earth) and Marty Vermilion (Mars).
Since NASA landed a probe on Mars today, I thought it would be a good day to post the lyrics to the song. You can listen to it for free by clicking on the song title, which is:
For the past several months, I’ve been taking a yoga class. Today’s class was especially relaxing. We always start and end with shavasana, which involves lying down on a yoga mat. It doesn’t get any gentler than that.
In between the two shavasanas, we do some mild stretching, yawning, twisting, rocking, and balancing … nothing difficult. I go there for the relaxation factor. It’s literally the most relaxing part of my whole week, including the parts of my week while I’m asleep.
Today we did something at the end of class, during shavasana, that was so enjoyable for me that I wanted to share it with you. It was a guided observation that went something like this:
“Imagine yourself holding a mortar in your left hand, and a pestle in your right hand.
Now imagine everything that makes you sick or causes you pain dropping into your mortar, pebble by pebble.
Now take your right hand and grind your pebbles into a fine dust.
Now blow the dust away. Let it disappear.
Now imagine that every cell in your body is being filled up with a beautiful golden light.
Let the light warm you and envelop you. Enjoy your beautiful golden light.
(After a minute or two of enjoying the sensations created by our imaginations, we continued.)
Now release the light into the atmosphere. Just let it gently fade away.”
I’ve experienced relaxation exercises before, but never like this. This one was special for me. I think it was because it began with the image of something very tangible: a mortar and pestle that I could hold in my hands. The directions were very specific. Mortar in left hand, pestle in right. Grind, grind, grind. Blow. Pouff! Gone.
And then, cells. Lots of them. And warm golden light. All very physical, very real to me. I imagined myself as a beehive.
I really liked this exercise. Grinding the pebbles into dust made me feel strong. Blowing them away gave me a sense of relief. Then each cell in my body filling up with warm, golden honey made me feel like I glowed. I think my head was even buzzing.
I didn’t want to release the light, but I knew I couldn’t lie there in shavasana forever, so I came back to reality. But even after I had done so, some of the energy of the golden light remained. I felt calm and energized at the same time.
I thought it was a very effective imagery exercise, and I just wanted to share it with you.
I knew I was old when my daughter called me last night and said she won’t be exchanging any Christmas presents this year, “except for the kids.”
I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Ahh … that’s finally over with,” I thought, supremely thankful that she’d had the grace to announce her intentions on the day before Black Friday, before I’d started my Christmas shopping.
I love my daughters, but trying to guess what gifts would bring them pleasure, frantically wrapping said gifts, cramming them into shipping boxes, standing in long lines at the post office, and paying extra just so they’d arrive by December 25 was something I wouldn’t miss (especially since I usually don’t begin the process until December 15).
And I knew they were probably struggling with the same ordeal: buying (or in many cases making), wrapping, and mailing their usual abundance of gifts, all with tight schedules and limited budgets.
For years, I dutifully trudged in and out of stores searching for the perfect gifts that I imagined would make my daughters’ eyes light up with glee. I baked cookies, knit scarves, and framed my own photos for them. I then graduated to letting someone else make the gifts by shopping at Etsy. It was fun and festive for a few days, and then it quickly became a disheartening matter of settling for things I wasn’t sure they’d even like.
As bad as that sounds, for the past couple of years our family has hit a new low: the Amazon Gift List, which basically boils down to the following interaction:
Recipient: “I want all of these things on my Gift List! You can buy them right now! It’s so convenient! I’m only telling you this to make your life easier!”
Me: “But these things are not at all unique! Don’t you trust me to buy you something wonderful?”
Recipient: “No comment. And now look: I’ve added even more things to my Gift List!”
Me: “Well … but it seems so impersonal … I don’t know …”
Amazon: “Don’t worry, there’s free shipping! Would you like a gift card with that?”
Me: (Sigh) “Sure.”
My daughter’s current sentiments (seconded by my other daughter, my stepdaughter, and my husband) have finally allowed me to enjoy the holidays. Yes, I’ll still go a little crazy trying to come up with fun, exciting, and educational gifts for the three young ones in our family (books are always a good choice) but now I’ll actually be able to focus on fewer gifts for a change. Maybe I’ll make some by hand. I could even use my savings to make a donation to a worthy cause.
This is even more appealing when I think of how much I hate shopping. It wasn’t always so. I actually enjoyed shopping once upon a time, when I was about 15 years old. Department stores had fancy window displays and heavy revolving doors. When you pushed your way through them, you entered into a calm, orderly world of carpeted floors, gliding elevators, and the subtle fragrance of expensive perfume.
In high school, I’d ride the city bus downtown to the prestigious Sibley’s to do a little window shopping. The clothes sold at Sibley’s were well-made, and hence, I usually couldn’t afford them (but I liked trying them on). Then I’d head across the street to McCurdy’s basement in search of a bargain.
Finally, I’d have lunch or a snack upstairs at McCurdy’s classy yet affordable restaurant, which made me feel pampered and rich again. Sometimes I’d meet a friend there. Shopping was a social event in my youth. Now it’s an agonizing ordeal for me, at best.
This year, there will be fewer presents to go around, but perhaps greater presence of mind, and more time to reflect on other gifts — such as peace, good will, charity, and light — all of which are celebrated around the world in December. There will always be other opportunities to buy things and mail them off when the urge hits me. I’m just glad I don’t have to do it right now.
Today I’m going to cheat a bit and write about other people’s posts.
By other people, I mean Cheer Peppers, a.k.a. bloggers participating in the daily November blogging challenge known as NanoPoblano. If you want to indulge in some good reading, and if you’re on Facebook, find the Cheer Peppers group and join it.
Or you can find them in the Cheer Peppers list below. (I hope I haven’t left any out. I borrowed this list from fellow Cheer Pepper Carolyn Owens.)
A.R. at StarvingActivist.com
Barbara at teleportingweena.wordpress.com
Bill at BillFriday.com
Breanna at BooksHooksAndYarn.wordpress.com
Carolyn Owens at InfinityCoaching.net
Cyn at Cynk.wordpress.com
David at TooFullToWrite.com
Dean at DeanKealy.design
Echo at trueecho22.wordpress.com
Gwenlynn at JustALittleBitSweet.com
Hasty at FearingCrazy.wordpress.com
Hope at HopesThoughts.blog
Jessie at BehindTheWillows.com
Jesska at NotThrowingStones.today
Julia at AberrantCrochet.com
Julie at JulieBurton.blog
Kay at SuddenlyTheyAllDied.com
Kim at DrunkOnLifeBlog.com
Lillian at HumanInRecovery.wordpress.com
Liz at CatsAndChocolate.com
Lori at LoriStory.wordpress.com
Matt at TheMatticusKingdom.com
Namy at NamySaysSo.com
Nessa at vanessence.wordpress.com
Nutty at SpokenLikeATrueNut.wordpress.com
Owen at NoTalentForCertainty.com
Paula at TheTemenosJournal.com
Ra at Rarasaur.com
Rebecca at MommyQuits.wordpress.com
Renee at ReneeRobbinsWrites.com
Revis at RevisEdgewater.wordpress.com
Robert at FreshOffThePadPoetry.wordpress.com
Sahara at CreoSomnium.org
Symanntha at FailingAtHaiku.wordpress.com
Quixie at QuixiesMindPalace.wordpress.com
In keeping with the energetic but forgiving spirit of the Cheer Peppers, I’ve been trying to keep up with my daily posts (but not beating myself up if I skip days). I’m also trying to read ALL other Cheer Pepper posts. So far I’ve posted 14/21 days but read all posts for only 3/21 days. I’m batting .667 when it comes to posting, but only .143 for reading.
It’s not that I don’t love reading their posts. I do! It’s just that I run out of time during the week. But I’ll get caught up, I promise! I’m pledging today to read a ton of Cheer Pepper posts over this 4-day weekend.
To prove I’m serious about my pledge, here’s what I’m using to keep track of my progress.
By November 30, I hope to post another photo showing many more check marks in the right hand column.
Cheer Peppers are a thoughtful, funny, kind, and talented bunch, and their work is labor-intensive. Blogging is different from other types of writing, in that blog posts often try to say a lot using a relatively limited number of words.
Good blog posts are attention grabbing, clear, concise, artistic, sometimes amusing, and often deeply personal. It’s difficult to get all of that into a blog post, which is why I’m so thankful I stumbled upon the riches of NanoPoblano. Not only is it good writing practice for me, but it’s introduced me to some amazing people.
Thanks, Cheer Peppers!
Last November, David Ellis introduced me to the concept of “found poetry.” (David is a fellow blogger and “Cheer Pepper” — a participant in November’s daily blogging extravaganza known as “NanoPoblano.”)
Found poetry (also known as “blackout poetry”) is a poem that you discover and then alter by deleting certain words until a new poem emerges. I never thought of
stealing borrowing David’s idea until November 18th rolled around and I was stuck for an idea of my own.
But since I like including photos with my blog entries, I took a little field trip first. Camera in hand, I ventured an hour from my home to the small town of Tubac, Arizona, near the Mexico border. As sunset approached, I came upon two horses contentedly enjoying their dinner.
I returned home and began my search for a Found Poem that had something to do with horses. I decided on Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Here’s the original:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And now here is my Found Poem:
I think I know in the village
his little horse near the lake.
The darkest bells shake to ask
if there is the sweep of easy wind.
The woods are lovely and deep
but I have to go to sleep.
I’ve written and recorded a song about iguanas. Read on to learn why my songwriting career has taken this reptilian turn.
My friend Elaine Powers is an author and biologist who lives and works with reptiles. Her pets include iguanas, tortoises, tegu lizards, and a turtle. She currently is actively involved in saving endangered iguanas in the Carribbean.
As Elaine explained to me recently, rock iguanas and spiny-tail iguanas living in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and other islands have become endangered due to habitat loss and introduced (non-native) predators. Spiny-tails are sometimes consumed by humans. The Statia iguanas on St. Eustatius Island are threatened by hybridization with the non-native green iguana. Some iguanas, while warming themselves on asphalt highways, get run over by cars, either accidentally or for sport. And then there’s poaching for the pet trade. Elaine’s group is trying to educate the public about the importance of native iguanas to the local ecosystem.
After hearing about the plight of the iguanas, I decided to write a song about them. Elaine had the song animated by Anderson Atlas, and she posted it on her YouTube channel.
To see and hear the video, click the following link:
There’s even an iguana joke at the end of the song.
I’m hoping it catches on in the Carribbean. Do they have some version of a Grammy there? Maybe a Carribby? I’d settle for a paid vacation. But the real prize would be helping the iguanas to survive and thrive on their native island homes.
I’d love to hear your comments, and sharing is always appreciated!