In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


This magnolia blossom isn't reopening, but the tree is reopening its blossoms. It's the current flora openings around here as the many magnolia trees begin to share their perfume and lovely flowers, all in their own time.

My favorite public garden, Cheekwood, opened their gardens last Friday and I took a friend to enjoy the newly designed trails and gardens yesterday. We wore masks in the car and in the few spots where more people were around. We sat on my poncho on the grass and ate the lunch we brought with us. On the sculpture trails several groups of friends passed as we stepped off into the grass but mostly we were able to amble along trying out the new signage on our phones and speculating about the wild flower plantings that were obviously put in during the past couple of months. The mansion will open its door to timed visits of smaller numbers of people when the Chihuly exhibit opens in mid-July. We have no idea of when guided garden or mansion tours will resume. That's one of my favorite volunteer activities that is on long-term hold.

Worshiping in our beautiful sanctuary is in the far distant future. There may be multiple small scattered neighborhood outdoor services this summer while the U-Tube services continue for those unable or unwilling to participate in the outdoor settings. We have no official guidance from our Bishop at this time other than that no services can be held on our "campus" until after mid-June. As one of the seniors, though without pre-existing conditions, we may be encouraged or even mandated to avoid indoor services when they do begin.

Gatherings can now accommodate up to twenty-five people and may soon be extended to fifty with social distancing protocols observed. That will not allow for most of the concerts or lectures that make my experience of living near central Nashville special. One nearby university will allow students back in the fall and may have some social distance performances since music students are an important segment of their students and need performance experience. My symphony tickets are in the mail I'm told but will we able to use them?

I continue to discourage or outright refuse entrance to an elevator I'm riding down from the 17th floor to anyone not wearing a mask. If that person insists, I get out and walk down the stairs, dark and dirty though they are.

And I'm debating whether or not their is a safe way to make my usual summer trek to Colorado. My decision to drive may not be the most important but that of where I'll stay while there. I can stay four or five nights in a row with my daughter but would need an equal or greater time away before returning for my last two or three nights. Where that might be is the question. I do not yet have an answer.
                                   Yes! An old photo taken on the hillside with glacier lilies in bloom

So----opening up----it doesn't look that open for the life I had. On the other hand, social distancing outside means events like the hikers' weekly coffee (lunch today) at a nearby park with us splitting into two groups if more than ten attend (park groups still limited to ten or fewer). It also means hiking/walking at a park that's more fields that woods with a friend and his friends in the morning. Those fields, while not my preferred hills, allow lots of room for social distancing. And on Thursday I will Zoom in to the noon prayer service at St. John's in Boulder!

I am grateful for my health and that of family and friends but I so miss hugs! I'm lucky to be able to be outside often and to have friends I can see at a distance. And I've sent both manuscripts to readers so this writing time has been a blessing.

Many, many blessings but how I still long for more activity, hugs, and in-person meetings and worship.

PS: My link to photos stopped working so I'll add more photos later.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

When I Feel Deprived -- And a beautiful garden

I encountered these homeless tents in Los Angeles while walking from my bus stop to Union Station in early March. There are undoubtedly more of these tents now. In case I forget them, the homeless man who makes his home more with a tarp than a tent beside a corner bench that I pass coming or going onto the main thoroughfare when I go to Trader Joe's reminds me that I have a place to call home.

It has its challenges but didn't bend or shake when the formidable straight line winds roared through our city recently uprooting old trees and shredding power lines. The windows did rattle briefly for the first time since I moved here but this building is concrete and steel, a bulwark against storms.

I've minded not being able to walk out of my apartment directly onto the ground, envied my friends who have gardens and yards in which to work, especially now but once I meet the challenge of either the elevator or stairs from my seventeenth floor perch, I'm close to natural beauty.  Earlier the azaleas showed their color for weeks instead of days. The photo below is on a walk around a campus dorm area completed after I moved in September, 2015. The landscaping is lovely and I rarely see more than two or three people in that area.

Before we leave LA, I spent a wonderful day with my oldest grandson Ben. It was special to see him in his home area and to have a leisurely visit. We also enjoyed the Los Angeles County Museum of Art together.

The ride from LA's Union Station up the coast to Santa Barbara to visit my long-time friend and hiking companion from our Colorado days allowed for expansive views of the coast, though you can see a bit of reflection from the window on the moving train in this one.  I had a rare opportunity to tour Lotusland as if I were a private guest. My friend is trained to prune trees in their Japanese Garden, an unusual role for a volunteer, and gained permission for us to visit on a day when the gardens weren't open to the public. I made an effort not to compare their Japanese Garden with our Cheekwood's since Lotusland has much more room for such a wonderful garden.

We walked through other amazing gardens. One that surprised me was the cactus garden. If asked I might have suggested that we skip it but it its way, it was astonishing. Since I lean toward photos with flowers, I was looking up to take this photo. The photo below shows the heights of the tall cacti were on both sides of the path.

 I enjoyed the green sculptured critters and the tropical feel
of the gardens--different even from those I visited in San Diego.

Here is my friend at one of the gates to the Japanese Gardens. It was a memorable treat.
Later we walked the beach near their condo knowing that the next day was forecast (and delivered) as a very one wet one. As I boarded the airplane early on March 11th, I didn't realize that it would be unlikely that I would take another flight in the months ahead. Our Iona pilgrimage was of course cancelled and of this writing, it's not likely that I will make my annual summer visit to Colorado and hike those favorite mountain trails.

So many wonderful visit, so many beautiful photos and more memories, looking out on our varying shades of gray clouds this morning, I have only reasons to be grateful.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Looking for Beauty

I could have titled this a celebration as the "rest of the story" manuscript went to readers Friday evening. Since I'm just now completing this post, it was two weeks ago last Friday when the memoir went to readers. Since the manuscript I sent out is, for that part, still a draft a real celebration is yet to come. No one else has read any of it, and while I edit as I go along, I've only re-read and edited it totally twice. I'm hopeful that my readers will read critically. I haven't touched it since it went out, but with the novel now on its way to readers and I've heard from one person, I will begin edits soon. With two very different manuscripts being read by others, I'll catch up a bit here.

So now to my subject. I recently got out my camera's macro lens and listened to a Nikon training session. These are free for now as a contribution to staying at home. First I took photos of the  flowers I bought at Trader Joe's--alstroemeria or the Peruvian lily. My aim was to get the tiny centers to show up against the color. The one below is an example.

 With a decision to go out on the grounds around our building, I photographed all sorts of tiny things. This one surprised.
This bush looked almost dead and very boring. The leaves in the top photo were somewhat attractive. Both improved dramatically in the eye of the camera. How often in all of this staying in and going out carefully masked and social distancing do we look for bits of beauty in those with whom we come in contact--the grocery shelver who didn't get around to taking the toilet tissue out of the boxes stacked high where I couldn't reach a box to open myself for instance. (I was helped by a tall man who opened the box and took out a six-pack for me.

In this post, I'm including spring leaves and flowers. This one with what my brother Billy and I used to call wings was a surprise when I saw them on the Belmont University campus near where I live. The pink color was unexpected and lovely. They made me wonder what other small beauties in life I've missed because I'm expecting them to be as they previously were.

These of course are from the woods early in our stay-at-home orders. These trumpet lilies remind me so much of the glacier lilies I loved so much in the Rockies that they make me wish for those mountains.                                                                                                                                                
More of my musings have come from established gardens this spring as the trails have either been closed or void of room to social distance. Again in the early days I went to one of our large city parks to see the Virginia bluebells, a favorite. 

It seemed that the wild flowers were gone here in Middle Tennessee when last week a friend suggested I meet him at a cedar glades area near one of our large lakes. It was new to me and on a bike trail although we saw only one pair of bikers. He's a fount of wildflower information and carefully takes photographs. It was the perfect time for me to take my macro lens. I experimented more than I wish I had after seeing the results--or lack thereof but I'll leave this short post with a couple of flowers from that hike. One has a name familiar to those of you in the west but with a very different look. Below is a columbine! They are quite small. 

My friend had an uncommon name for the daisy below but it looked like the farm daisies I loved as a child. I was delighted to see it growing in the woods.

And another childhood flower, though our phlox were of the garden variety, I loved seeing these in the woods.

I feel so very fortunate to see and enjoy the small things. Spring weather comes and goes here in the Mid-South but spring trees leafing out and blossoming and most woodland flowers are past. It's the rose garden on the nearby campus and the skies from the seventeenth windows that capture my interests most now. However, our beloved Cheekwood Gardens opens again for social distance walking on Friday! I am excited to see the renovations and a new trail. More soon. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

This Unusual and Trying Time

The birds on this California beach weren't afraid, not even of we humans walking near them. This beach walk with a dear college friend was one of several I took while on a week-long visiting friends and family from San Diego to Santa Barbara with a wonderful day in the middle with grandson Ben Means. Leaving the tornado destruction in Nashville behind on March 3rd, I felt no fear flying on a full plane from Nashville directly to San Diego. The beaches weren't crowded nor were the lovely Japanese, meditation and botanic gardens we visited. By Friday my friend's son, who planned a family trip to the San Diego Zoo on Saturday was concerned and we ultimately decided not to go mainly because my friend has Parkinson's.

The cherry blossoms were at their peak in Balboa Park's Japanese Gardens and my friends sat comfortably while I meandered among the trees and blossoms.

Those of you who are Facebook friends saw the middle one of the flowers and ocean from the Meditation Gardens, one of the loveliest place we visited during my San Diego area visit.

The bottom blossom was taken near the end of a couple of hours in the San Diego Botanic gardens because the light was perfect. Fortunately that garden is in Encinitas near my friend's home as is the Meditation Garden founded by a Kriya Yoga guru. We saw people meditating, one man who looked like a statue shining in the sun. It was tempting to take his photo but I resisted.

An early Sunday morning bus since Amtrak tracks were under construction on weekends took me to Irvine where I caught the train on into LA. Ben met me at Union Station and we moved on to the strange--and likely not the safest from the virus--Airbnb where I had paid for my night. Ben took my bag and backpack up the stairs where we found room 7, the room the small woman who spoke little English said was mine for the night. I was glad to see it through Ben's eyes. He said, "Looks good Nana." The single bed had no top sheet although two comforters that smelled clean sat on top. The room was clean and near public transportation that easily got us to the Miracle Mile where Ben lives and took me to Union Station for my Amtrak the near morning. But there were 8 little rooms, others filled with young people, mostly Asian since this was in Koreatown. There were no parent-aged folks much less grandmothers. Three bathrooms were shared, clean and I never had difficulty accessing the one straight across from my bedroom though I heard the door open and close several times. I avoided the shower since I had one that morning and could take one at the motel in Santa Barbara, and I did figure out the unusual Keurig for coffee.

No trains were crowded nor the bus to catch the train but by that time folks were beginning to be more careful except for loading and unloading at stops. Amtrak allows very little time to make your entrance or exit so it's a necessity to be ready. As I had a heavy backpack, the car attendant noticed and carried my bag down the stairs for unloading in Santa Barbara where I was met by my friend.

I can't get to the photos I want of LA and Santa Barbara now so will end this post, add LA photos later and keep Santa Barbara for another post.

I am cheered by the wonderful flower pictures I had the privilege of taking in California as I was cheered by the tulips and other flowers on our Belmont University campus during a Sunday afternoon walk. Today it's raining and one of the few times I wish for drapes to hid my outside view. But then I might feel claustrophobic without them. I am so very grateful for the views during this time of staying in and I'm grateful to be outside and walk most days, even getting wet or damp a couple of times but today I'm in.

I listened this morning to Jim Finley's podcast on Turning to the Mystics (all you need to know is that name to Google it) which is this week and for the next few addressing our current fears. Jim is my favorite trauma and faith guru and was speaking from his home in CA less than a week after his beloved wife died. I was moved by his dedication and he said at the end that it helped him to be able to help others through this difficult time. This podcast relied on his Christian faith although he's been influenced by the Dharma too.

I also recommend In the Footsteps of Thich Nhat Hanh which Lion's Roar is presenting free starting tomorrow through Sunday. The pre-recorded sessions are for use on your own time but each day is available only for the next 48 hours.

Now to my editing/writing project! Be safe!
In peace