Day 21: Instrument

I could tell you about my younger days with clarinet and piano lessons, a challenging 5 years of my life for this non-musical person; however, the best instrument for me has always been my camera! I love photographing landscapes and wildlife. This instrument, my camera, allows me to play with light as I photograph various things; love it!

Lately I noticed I see more birds when I do not have my camera! As a result, I carry a small camera so I can capture a photo when simply out and about. There are times I carry a heavier camera and lens, but sometimes I want a fitness walk without the strength training workout! Most often I have my iPhone and it has an okay camera.

I get really excited when I have my camera and see something unique. Here was the moment I saw a gila monster! I have only seen one of these creatures once before; I did not have a camera with me then. In the time I took my camera out, the gila monster crossed a pathway and headed into the brush, but I have a photograph! Did I use my instrument, camera, with the best aperture opening while taking this photo… no … but at least I see the gila monster! As I continue to use my instrument when in a rush, the next gila monster will have a better photograph! Practice, practice!

Gila monster.

Day 20: Music

I can listen to most music. When I am in my car I choose a music channel dependent on my mood. Will it be hard rock, blues, classical or the 80’s? It may even be Broadway tunes! Interestingly, it is only when I am driving my car or flying in an airplane where I mostly listen to music. Hiking or bicycling times are for listening to nature; no ear buds here.

When I travel, I love to attend organ concerts or evening music presentations around the world. I have heard fantastic quartets, choirs and musicians. Whether sitting in a beautiful church in Poland, a cave in Portugal, or on a grassy knoll in New York, it is time to relax and enjoy the music!

Last year I met a musician; it was the bird on his head first capturing my attention. Actually, he was not much of a musician, but I loved his spirit! Yes he strummed some tune, walked away realizing none of us were appreciating his talent, and returned just before we took off. With some change from my pocket, this Moroccan man allowed me to photograph him. Music takes all forms which is why I love travel and music!

Moroccan musician and his bird!

Day 19: Three

Three months ago my three younger sisters were putting finishing touches on their air flights from east to west coast to visit me. This week was to be our “sister week”! We have it one time per year as a way to stay physically in touch with each other and simply relax. It is always a fun time to laugh, visit new places, try new cooking ideas, and/or simply be.

I was looking forward to showing them the Pima Animal Shelter, Sonoran Desert Museum, Funny Foot Farm, Arizona Zipline Adventures, Tucson Botanical Garden, Tohono Chul Park, our “loop” for bicycling and walking, Pima Air and Space Museum, and hiking trails in my backyard: Sabino Canyon, Agua Caliente Park, and Mount Lemmon. I have not been to a couple of these places … I put off a visit to make it a fun new experience for us all. We may not have gotten to everything, but I know they would love the desert, the dark night sky, the birds at my new feeders, and southwestern and Mexican food! And we certainly would have loved the time spent together! Now I do not know when our visit will be! This year I hope!

I have to say I am not happy with all the Covid-19 happening around the world! Please do your part for us to hopefully get out of quarantine and move on with life. I will love giving my sisters a hug while they visit me here and see my retirement life.

My sisters need to see desert beauty!

Day 18: New

I can remember listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York City’s Central Park, many years ago, as we all sprawled upon the grass to hear his words of wisdom. I have read Dalai Lama’s writings, so for today’s daily prompt, “new”, I am writing a book review. I have never written a book review before; “new” process for me!

For two American dollars I bought this book, The Little Book of Wisdom by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, while trekking in Nepal in 2001. It is a very small book, 3×4 inches, and easy to throw in a backpack or pocket. The book is divided into parts for easy reading each with a statement made by the Dalai Lama. One does not need to be Buddhist or even spiritual to appreciate the important words. Topics include global issues, love and compassion, self-development, and happiness to mention a few. In one or two sentences per page there is a quick message to think upon during the day. One can re-read the statements year after year and probably find more wisdom from some than other statements. That is a positive for a book like this and as a result one may hold on to the book for years!

If you are interested in a quick word of wisdom, then check out this book!

Here is a global issue statement from the book, “The whole world is becoming smaller and smaller. The concept of ‘we’ and ‘they’ is gone, out of date.” That is a statement appropriate for today!

Day 17: Distance

A whole variety of things pop into my head when I think about our daily prompt of “distance”.

  1. Friends and family are on the other coast of the US and I travel that distance a few times per year, yet I am grateful for the friends within a few hours drive from here.
  2. Terms such as “social distance” and “physical distancing” will be the 2020 additions to our overall vocabulary as we move forward.
  3. The distance I bicycled solo, self-contained across a few US states was satisfying for my first adventure …600 plus miles!
  4. When I mountain bike ride in the Sonoran Desert, I often think of the rider I saw cycling across the Sahara Desert in Morocco in November.
  5. Teleconferencing with family has been a wonderful way to make the distance between us not seem so great.
  6. Some days I am walking the neighborhood; I always see an Amazon vehicle. I wonder what distance the driver travels every day on average.
  7. What mountains are they in the distance? This area is surrounded by 5 mountain ranges.
  8. Keeping my distance from prickly pear and jumping cholla cacti. No flat tire today, thank you!

Day 16: Slow

In my ideal world today I would have tried to capture something in slow motion with my camera. However, I was so slow in determining what photography equipment to buy I did none of what I had hoped!

I felt like the slow moving turtle I saw the other day. The turtle moved so slowly in the 20 minutes I watched. I believe it moved an inch. I have been so slow today! Research and comparisons of various photography equipment took so much time; I think that turtle moved more than me today. (I am beginning to think my photo should be a slug!)

Okay, click the checkout button, sing happy birthday to me …even though it is a month away… and go exercise before I become a slug!

Head up, on the move!

Day 15: Scent

New to me, in this part of Arizona, is the number of horse properties. I do not ride horses; however, I do think they are beautiful animals. But the one scent I dislike, especially when hiking on a trail, is horse manure … plus … the excrement is always in the middle of the trail!

People complain about dog poop. More often it can be found on the side of a trail. (Not everyone picks up after their dog, darn!) People complain about roadkills; those smell absolutely horrible but are usually on a roadside.

When I am bicycling I can smell a roadkill well before I reach it. Often I try to guess what animal it might have been. Today surprisingly, it was a skunk carcass. I had not realized skunks are in southern Arizona, but they are.

No horse manure out on the road today or at least not seen by me from my bicycle! I was happy to not be on a hiking trail as I saw the horses ahead of me. Yahoo; no horse manure, just skunk!

Day 14: Book

There are probably a few books that transformed me during my lifetime; however, one book I most remember is John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley. I recall he had a buck-toothed dog, Charley, traveling with him. He washed his dirty clothes in some container in the back of his vehicle that sloshed around as he drove. The book was entertaining for an 11 year old who simply wanted to know about adventure and travel and thought it a brilliant method to do laundry on the road!

In combination with camping and travel my family did the next 6 years, it prompted me to wonder and travel about the USA, then Europe, then the rest of the world. Now in the days of our current pandemic, I still explore places close to home, away from people, and enjoy learning about the local fauna and flora of the area. Steinbeck’s book made me realize early on in my life how enjoyable travel can be. I still love to travel!

Our local area in Arizona.

Day 13: Teach

Thank you math and science public school teachers from my past! You were the individuals who made me realize the importance of learning. While I thought I would use the math and science background to some day be a general practitioner, it was late in my first year of college when I decided I wanted to teach.

I remember being home on break and watching my mother stir tomato sauce at the stove. I thought what a great time to break my news to her, especially since I figured she would be happy to hear I was following in my parent’s footsteps … they were both teachers. I told her I decided on my future career, to teach! She turned her head to look at me and simply said, well then be a damn good teacher!

And so I did! For many years, I taught the traditional science program to students in grades 7-9 science and also brought them outdoors to adopt a piece of land to research through 4 seasons. I had science shows on a television for students who wanted to escape the lunchroom and eat in peace … and watch Newton’s Apple or whatever. As I taught, I was learning more science and enjoyed students who asked questions. For me to teach was an honor. I knew it was something not everyone could do. Years later when I went into school administration, my goal was to support quality teachers. I wanted their energies to totally be with their students.

Teaching students to learn how to learn, question what needs to be asked, look at the environment around them and wonder, and to teach another as ones learning should never end was a huge undertaking. People who rise to the challenge should be recognized and rewarded! Thank you teachers everywhere … as you are not only in schools!

Teach young people to look, be curious, ask questions and protect their environment.

Day 12: Light

I had been traveling around Poland for three weeks, learning about this country’s history during World War II. Needless to say, there were many depressing moments as I saw museum displays and read about the horrific war years where so many people either perished or barely survived.

When I visited Wroclaw, Poland I had not realized I would have some lighter moments. I discovered I enjoyed looking for the “gnomes” around the city. There are hundreds of them! The purpose of the gnomes was to bring down Poland’s oppressive regime in the eighties. It was a good break from the WWII info.

Weeks of travel learning about Polish WWII history was an emotional time, but I must admit the lighter fun in seeing the gnomes helped balance me! Here is just one of the many gnomes I saw. Isn’t it cute? Loved this city!