Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Water Lilies in honor of Monet at the Kimbell

Someone at the Kimbell had the cute idea of floating silk water lilies in the fountain near where the Monet exhibit is. No doubt in honor of his famous water lilies paintings in the exhibit.
I was trying not to be perfectionistic when I wrote my last blog post about our trip to the Kimbell to see the "Monet: The Late Years" exhibit that I wrote about in my last blog post ("Monet at 70"). So, I posted it quickly after writing it. Then later I wished I had put this photo with it.

Then I went back and forth. Was it too late to add it to that post I wondered? Should I make a new post instead? Is it good enough? Selfies are never very flattering and this one certainly lives up to that expectation!

So, obviously, I was still being a perfectionist despite all my intentions not to be.

Then I remembered our own water lily photos I wanted to share.  We saw these while canoeing a couple of years ago at Bonham Lake State Park here in Texas. There were no blooms on them, but I was fascinated by how whatever water got on top of each lily pad formed into a giant shiny jewel-like blob.

The blue and white stripes on the right corner is the side of our inflatable canoe.

Another view of the silk water lilies at the Kimbell. 

Now that I am feeling better, I hope to go back to see the rest of the Monet exhibit that I missed out on when I suddenly got sick last time. I also want to revisit the paintings I especially liked and maybe get some photos this time.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Monet in his 70s

Yesterday, we went to see an art exhibit of Claude Monet’s later years at the Kimbell in Fort Worth, TX.

I wasn’t able to see all of it because I suddenly got sick and needed to go home. But what I did see was really gorgeous.

I was especially moved and inspired by the first part when his style changed. It was following the loss of his second wife and son. And at the start of WWI. He was in his early 70s by then.

The audio commentator said he had “a renewed passion to paint.” His style became “almost expressionist.”

His bold brush strokes and vivid colors gave me the feeling he was almost desperate to get his ideas down quickly, like he knew life was short and there was no time to waste.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Did the chicken design the egg?

This morning on CBS This Morning one of the news anchors referred to something as having been “designed by nature.”

So when they say something was “designed by nature” which part of nature did it? Which thing designed both itself and all the rest? Or did different parts design other parts? The birds designed the bees, maybe. A spider designed the flies.  And did the chicken design the egg, or was it the egg that designed the chicken? I guess whichever one came first designed the other one.

“Intelligent design” is always ridiculed in the liberal media. But in recent years I’ve noticed an increasing use of the word “design” when they talk about the natural world. They never include the word “intelligent” however.

The word “design” implies a designer. It takes planning and thought and problem-solving skills to design something. All of that requires intelligence.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Peeling off the past

A few days ago I put away several old family photos and mementos. Most of them were ones that my Mom had when she moved here and I have been keeping on display on a shelf in my office.
I’m surprised by how good it feels now to have put them away.

Here is a before picture from 2017. The largest family photo on the left is actually a duplicate of one I have in a smaller size in my bedroom. So there was no reason to have both out. It was just here from when this was my Mom's room. This also shows the bottom two shelves as they were before I did my downsize featured in: Desperate to declutter

The after shot. The top of the bookcase is what I'm writing about here. The black thing is a tv antenna. As you can see I still haven't added more stuff to the bottom two shelves. It isn't from lack of possibilities! I just haven't wanted to clutter it up with anything else yet. Is that weird?

I felt guilty at first, as if I was being disloyal to all those people in some way because I put their pictures and mementos away. But I’m realizing I don’t need to give so much space to the past or to family members who don't live here.

My parents had such a large collection of old family photos, mostly 8x10, that my Dad made two special cubby shelf units and created a large display area on one end of their living room.

I still have the cubby shelves. (One is in a closet because I don’t know what to do with it.)  The other one is hanging in my office where I am writing this. When my Mom lived with me this was her room and I put some of her cute knick-knacks on it. After she moved into a “residential care home” and I turned this room into my office I kept it on the wall, but I don’t have anything displayed on it anymore. I experimented with putting things on it, but I like the minimal uncluttered look best. When I look at it as I walk into the room it gives me a sense of peace.

It did anyway. Now I want to put it away too. In fact I don’t really want to keep it at all. The fact that my Dad made them is really the only reason I haven’t gotten rid of them both already. And because I kept thinking they might be useful someday.

But I don’t have anywhere in my house where I want them. It’s been 9 years since they came here with my Mom and all her other stuff. Nine years! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since she sold her home and moved near us and then in with us. And after four years in our home she moved into a residential care home where she is now. Anyway, now that I think about it that is plenty long enough to show that I am not going to use them. I have given them a “fair go”, as my Aussie friends might say, and I can part with them with a clear conscience!

I feel embarrassed to admit that I don’t want them. But why should I? My brother didn’t want them and I don’t think he felt bad about it. In fact, he probably hasn’t given it another thought! So why do I feel like I have to keep them or I am being a bad daughter? I don’t need to feel obligated to keep anything just because my Dad made it or it was important to him once. He doesn't need it now. He's in heaven.

If I don’t want or have a use for those cubby shelves he made, for example, then I don’t need to keep them. It would be nice to find someone who will want them but why do I feel like I have to be the curator of everything? I don’t think “honor your father and mother” means we have to dispose of all their stuff in the most perfect possible way.

As I mentally “try on” the idea of getting rid of (or at least putting away) all these things I get a feeling like dark heavy layers lifting off of me and peeling away. Like I’m a newly hatched chick.
I am sensing that I have unconsciously been giving these things and the people they represent far too much “power” in my life for too long. Family is important to me. But I will always have my memories of them in my heart and mind. And if I lose those then photos or cubby shelves probably won’t help. The people were part of my past and they helped to make me, me. But I don’t have to stay stuck in the past.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Enchanted Rock Part 2

When John returned from climbing to the top of Enchanted Rock (ER) (see my last post in case you missed it!). We hiked out to the overlook together. It was a lovely place to finished what was left of our respective lunches.

Another couple who were also picnicking there asked us to take their photo and then took this one of us.
  From the Overlook:

Little Rock is "shedding"

There were lots of pretty and fun things to see going to and from the Overlook as well.

It was amazing to see all the flowers growing almost literally out of granite.

I love this little flower!  Notice the  yellow pompoms on stalks in the center and how you can see some of their shadows. If I was naming it I might call it a "clown flower" :-).

I thought it was fascinating the way the white petals have a sparkly sheen to them

This rock formation looked to me like an upside down hippo. It reminded John of an armadillo!

Just after we left ER around 3:00 pm, John surprised me by suddenly pulling over. There were a lot of wildflowers so when he saw a place to pull over, he took it.
John photographing the wildflowers along the roadside.

Enchanted Rock looking like a moonscape in the back ground.

Our campsite was at Oxford Ranch Campground, in Llano, TX. The campground is about 15 minutes from ER. Llano is another 9 miles north of the campground on Hwy 16. Enchanted Rock only had tent sites. And since we have an RV we had to look elsewhere to camp. Our motor home is the one with the tow car behind it.

(One of our reflective sun shields came loose and was hanging down. The suction cups we use to attach them with sometimes come loose, especially in the wind.)

The RV next to ours looked like it had been uninhabited for some time. It was sad to see the birds tearing lots of fluffy strands off its decaying awning.  Note to self: get an awning protector for periods when our rv is not in use.

We did get more neighbors over the weekend. So there wasn’t as much wide open space after that.
Most fellow RVers are reasonably friendly, at least they'll wave or say “hi”, but none of our neighbors on this trip were. It was strange and a little discouraging, to me anyway, I don’t think John would have noticed if I hadn’t said anything. Many fellow hikers at ER were friendly though, so that helped to make up for it.

There was a lot of pretty scenery and that helped too!

This was the view behind our RV

After getting rather worn out from our hiking at ER, I wasn’t planning to go out anymore that day. But when John came back from a little wander around the campground with reports of spectacular wild flowers I couldn't resist. So, we went out for a another walk together. I took 26 photos in 15 minutes! Here are only a few of them:

Oxford Ranch appears to have been a working ranch at one time, maybe still is, at least if these old tractors parked in the background are any indication.

The nearest town to our campground was Llano TX, about nine miles away. We went shopping there a couple of times and to church Easter Sunday morning. There were lots of interesting sounding things to do in the area. And the town looked like a fun place to explore with its old buildings and picturesque square, and antique stores. But we decided to focus on exploring Enchanted Rock, and resting up between times.

We stayed for several more days and did more hiking at ER and walks around the campground and took lots more photos! :-)

The butterflies enjoyed all the flowers too. Most were too busy to photograph.

These little fern made me think of a miniature pine forest.

White poppies

Because we had full hookups, including sewer, I didn't try to use the campground’s “restroom” until our last morning there. John said the men’s room was ok, so to save space in our black tank for the next trip, I thought I would use the women’s room after John dumped our tanks. But I quickly changed my mind. The toilets were partly dismantled and from my position by the door they looked unusable—I’ll spare you the details! I didn’t want to get any closer to investigate further or stay long enough to take photos. The whole room had a semi demolished look and like someone needed to hurry up and finish the job. I was even more than usually thankful for sewer hookups and an RV with a shower and toilet. I wonder now if there was another women's room somewhere else. If so they never told us about it.

We were pleased to get away by our target of 9:00 a.m.--a first.  We wanted to avoid the heat of the day since our a/c went out on the trip down from Glen Rose. Our GPS tried to take us home to Dallas through Fredericksburg which is in the opposite direction and would have added at least another hour. We knew that going straight back up through Llano on 16 and connecting up with FM 2005 for part of the way like Google said was not a good idea because that was the way we came! Three very narrow bridges on 16 and sections of 2005 were so narrow we went off the road a little in one place. (Our GPS didn’t want us to go that way but Google thought it would be fine so we followed Google. It gave us a little more respect for our GPS.) Anyway, we dodged all that, and avoided going the long way through Fredericksburg, by going east on 71 to 281 to 220 to 67.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Enchanted Rock part 1 - John's climb to the summit

John before climbing to the summit of Enchanted Rock. Yes, the tiny black dots going up the side and on the top are people!

Enchanted Rock (ER) is a giant pink granite mountain about 17 miles north of Fredericksburg, TX. It's really unique and amazing. In fact it is the largest pink granite monadnock in the U.S. (Not everything is bigger in Texas, but this is :-))

There are actually two rocks. The one on the right on this sign is the bigger one. It's the one called Enchanted Rock. The one on the left is called "Little Rock."

That large pink mound towering over the cars is "Little Rock"! (The little red car, on the left is our Honda tow-car.)

ER has tent camping only, so we camped about 15 minutes away at a campground that had RV sites available with full hook ups, including sewer, which I was especially thankful for. I'll tell you why in the next post.

I had read that reservations were recommended for visiting ER, even just for hiking, especially on holidays and busy weekends. Since we were there over the Easter weekend and it was nice weather we reserved a spot on-line the night before. We're very thankful we did. We got the last spot for that morning. They were turning people away when we arrived but since we had reservations, we got in.

John, being a confident hiker was keen to hike to the top. I waited in the shade near where we parked our car.

At the bottom

Partway up looking back down

John said, "the climb was not nearly as hard as it looks. Parts of the path were roughly as difficult as climbing a somewhat uneven staircase. Most of it was just slanted rock. It wasn't at all slippery since it was a dry day and there wasn't any loose gravel to contend with. They warned us that it would take 30-45 minutes to climb but it only took me about 25 [each way]."

Other parts are much steeper and definitely called for ropes! John didn't hike on those parts.

While I waited for him I was delighted and intrigued to see a group of young people coming back to the parking lot carrying a large wooden cross between them. I told John about it after he got back. He said he was up there when they were and saw the crosses while they were set up. We were both really pleased and surprised by this creative way to celebrate Good Friday.

John said, "Although much of the rock was barren, any hollow collected water and dirt and made a little oasis...each one different and forming its own little ecology. Many of them were quite lovely."

Not surprisingly the view from the top was spectacular.

Stay tuned for more from our Enchanted Rock trip.