Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Last image of late summer on Mt. Lemmon

I think of the Beatles' song "A Long and Winding Road leads me back to your arms...." and the sense of memory that comes with the song.  What kid of road-song do you recall when you see this?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

late summer flowers on the mountain and more

One of the lovely sights in the moutains, is the sight of flowers, their colors contrasting with the deep green forest surrounding them.

Then there is the refreshing sound of a full stream in Marshall Gulch.  Sorry you can't hear the water as it falls over rocks, stones, and cuts around the boulders and deeply rooted trees.

I appreciate this photo for its textural gifts: delicate flower petals among dry pine needsles and sharp rocks.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bear Canyon stream

As many of you know, Bear Canyon offers the first pine forest on the way up Mt. Lemmon.  The last couple of trips there, the stream bed has been all sand and rocks, but this time, after our picnic lunch, we found water from the latest summer rains.  So our "Mountain Monday" begain with hopeful signs of renewal that we take with us into this week.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pine Needles with Rain Drops

We did our monthly "Monday on the Mountain" last Monday and had two wonderful rain storms in between our picnic lunch and walks.  I will be sharing the photos Mark took and here is the first one, taken by the roadside in Summerhaven, Mt. Lemmon.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beyond the Gray

I have do a life beyond the recent posts about Gray, but I admit that focusing on the antics of a new four-legged member of the clan can be a diversion from other life tasks, opportunities and challenges.  For me, this week, it's important to mark the shift I made away from working on the Grant Road Project: I formally resigned after almost six years with Kimley-Horn and another 6-8 months, before that, with the City.  I am done with trying to make Grant Road an example of "context sensitive design" on a major Tucson roadway.  Since May, I wanted to turn into another direction, but external events and internal influences now brought me to this fork in the road.  I have been reading Buddhist literature and other books on living an authentic life, a life of abundance, and life of intention.  Those readings formed my internal compass for a new direction. 

One step on that new path has been my volunteer work at the Downtown Library as a Reading Partner.  I feel that I make a real difference in my one hour of reading to kids of various ages.  Now that school has started, the kids are pre-K age.  This week I had a 3 year old who didn't have a name. "We call him 'Little Man'", his mother said with a toothless smile.  This was my first experience with a child who lives on the street.  He sat next to me quietly, hands folded and head down, chin touching his chest most of the time.  The milestone I reached with him, after 30 mins., was when he began to touch the "feathers" on the penguin book I was reading. Before that, I couldn't get him to interact with board books because he didn't know colors, shapes, or nouns such as "cap" or "ball." 

I don't come away from these experiences with gloom, but rather a gladness that I have been in a space where simple reading a book can show a child there is another world beyond his/her life, whatever the conditions may be.  This summer, I have read to or with kids who, by 1st grade, say "I am not a good reader," and with kids who proudly share chapter books two or three grade levels beyond their age.  I have sat with kids with parents who gleefully join the circle and join in the story process and with kids with parents who sit in the back, texting on their phone before, during and after the story time.

So, my life continues to expand with these experiences, and I look forward to walking down a different path in the months ahead.  When I need to rest, I will, with Gray (outside) or with our 12 1/2 year old Lia who still rules the inside-the-house domain, perched on our (now tattered) leather couch.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Gray in the Tree

As far as I am concerned, Gray is earning his keep by attracting my hubby to "Gray's Adventures".  This draws Mark away from the gloomy news, and his tendency to be stuck in it, and elevates his eye to Gray.  You can see, not only the cat's post-breakfast exercise-in-the-tree actions, but the clarity of purpose that the photographer brings to the picture.  I have a talented husband whose artistry is unheralded amidst every day tasks and his 7-day "work mode" mentality.  Slowly, Gray's presence is wedging his way into our daily life and altering our habits for the better.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gray Settles In

My hubby calls him "little Gray" and he is little for his age, but, we think, with regular meals on the porch in the morning and evenings, "little Gray" is putting on the ounces our Vet recommended.  We are learning about Gray and his preferences:  he still wants to come inside, but is adjusting to the porch and sissel welcome mat as his spot; he seeks out petting before and after he eats; he cleans himself up after frequent rain showers and lets me towel him down to quicken the drying of his fur; he likes to look for little lizards and chase them into the bush; he sometimes sits on the windowsill outside of my office as I type on the computer.  I find myself spending more time on the porch, petting his soft fur and talking with the neighbors who walk by.  We have put a small fan outside to help cool him down when the temps hit 100 plus degrees and this photo shows him relaxing in the light breeze of the fan. (The photo was taken from inside the house). Life with Gray is better than without; we think he feels the same about us.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

People Like Us

I highly recommend this movie that, unfortunately, opened the same weekend as "The Amazing Spiderman." It has wonderful performances by Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Right now, in Tucson, it's at the discount movies and if you can't catch it there or in your hometown, rent it when it comes out.  It's a rare story (and intelligent script) that shows how real people deal with emotional changes, how family secrets, even made with the best intentions, have untended and negative consequences, how forgiveness can come through a child with the face of an angel and the mouth (and actions) of a street-fighter. 

It's not a story that moves fast.  You, the viewer, have to slow down to take it all in.  The scenes of AA meetings are brief but essential to the narrative.  It's the kind of story I admire: brave and truthful.  Watch the faces of the actors, including the "bit" players such as the security card and apartment property manager.  While "Spiderman" is also worth seeing, this little picture packs a whollop that even Spidey cannot match.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Gray's Introduction to the World

Last Saturday, as I went outside to feed my birds, a thin gray cat came out of the bushes, rubbing its head against my ankles.  After my initial surprise subsided, I noticed it was a familiar cat over the past few months, although clearly thinner than when I saw it before, early in the summer.  "I am NOT a cat person," I admonished the cat, as it began to mew.  We had no cat food in the house, so its visit was rewarded by Trader Joe's tuna fish in olive oil.  Needless to say, over the next few days, as the cat began to appear more frequently (and, equally frequently was fed 2% milk, more tuna and then dry cat food), my husband and I began the conversation about "what do we do with this cat?"  Had we called the animal shelter last weekend, its fate would be up to the shelter gods.  But, after checking with local no-kill cat shelters (all full) and various friends and relatives ("no place for a cat", or "I already have two" or "We travel too much)...the cat found a place on our front porch or cooled off in the shade of our two northfacing side yards.  In spite of its pleas to come inside (it quickly found out that the back yard was our 12 1/2 year old dog's domain) the doors remained closed to its entry.  Our dog, Lia, also owns the inside of the house (the old, now torn leather couch, the foot of the bed and any other place she needs to throw down her arthritic 80 pound body).

So, to make a long(er) story short(er), yesterday, we took the cat to the Vets and learned he is a neutered two year old male, very docile, healthy (negative on blood tests) and now vaccinated for rabies, HIV and some other feline disease.  He has been called "Gray" (I added the British spelling to give him some status) and loosely identified as a Russian Blue.  "I've always wanted a Russian Blue cat," my husband told me, which after living together for 38 years was news to me. 

So here is Gray, sidling up to my plants.  He likes to sit on the porch and be stroked or petted while he eats.  He likes to poke at lizards as they run (we haven't seen him catch any yet) and managed to rid himself of a red breakaway collar with a bell in less than two hours.  Gray will return to the Vets at the end of the month for his microchip and although he will remain an outside cat while we have Lia, Gray has already proven his worth:  my husband now slows down in the morning after the newspaper and his negative rants against politics have been minimized as he contentedly pets Gray on the porch.  As for me, although I still would say "I am not a cat person", obviously, Gray is the exception.  How long he remains with us, time will tell, but for now, Gray is home.