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.