Wednesday, April 30, 2008
We are all artists. We come into this world to create. To create our lives, to crack our doubts wide open, to live our stories. There are no mistakes. There is no time wasted. There are no failures. There is only our becoming and our dreams and our stories. So take a deep breath. Lift your voice high and live out loud.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
In silence I listened to the most heavenly and purest of songs. And after a while, I could follow his movement, though still unseen, by the non-melodious vocal ‘blubs’ and chirps that seemed to accompany his adjustment to a new perch and introduce his next song. This gave me great delight.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Comics are sometimes like poetry. You never know if you understand exactly what the artist intended. But then, that is part of the beauty. You laugh in your own way, connecting with your own special humor. Laughter is one of the true gifts in our lives. Opportunities for laughter are all around us in every single day. We have only to open ourselves up to them. Ruby-throated Hummingbird (juvenile)
Nature is full of peculiar and lively characters that are worthy of a good chuckle. The hummingbird is one of them. If you have any doubt, sit near a hummingbird feeder for a while and watch the antics.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only hummingbird species that breeds east of the Mississippi. The males are arriving now, staking out their territories. The females will soon follow. A brilliant red-throated male has been visiting my feeder recently.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Ten minutes passed, before I caught movement in the corner of my vision. I turned my head and there he came, sauntering across the patio, not sprinting, not break-neck speed, not avoiding me, but swaggering straight up to me, stopping within three inches of my toes. I mean, this was giggle stuff. I later did some sleuthing. This is a five-lined skink but from there the puzzle gets confusing. This skink was about eight inches long including that gorgeous tail. But only juveniles are said to have that brilliant blue tail. With a flex of a muscle they are able to release a section of tail to free themselves from a predator and save their life. Males have the brighter orange head which is an indicator of sexual maturity. His legs were a beautiful pale pink underneath the gray pattern. Nesting occurs in April and May with broods hatching June to August. I take that to mean there shouldn’t be any juveniles hanging around, right?
So now, where does that leave us? With a handsome salmon-headed skink still carrying a bright blue juvenile tail who was attracted to my toes? He was so cute. And lucky me, he's my neighbor.
--Stephen Lyn Bales
Last night, just as I was about to call it a night, a whip-poor-will began to sing right outside my window. Oh, my heart! It was only a couple of months ago that I was searching for reference photos and laboring over a sketch of this elusive nocturnal bird, a bird that I have never seen and whose song I had not heard since childhood, a bird whose numbers have declined by 57% in the past forty years.
Whip-poor-wills arrive in Tennessee around the first of April, spending their days roosting on tree limbs or on the forest floor and their nights hunting insects on the fly with large wide open mouths aided by long whiskers. They lay their eggs in leaf litter on the ground in late April with incubation lasting 19-20 days. Amazingly, these parents coordinate egg-laying with the moon cycle so they have the best moonlight while feeding their brood.You may wonder how these birds survive with such vulnerable habits. The secret is camouflage. You would be more likely to have heart-stopping fright as this bird flushes from beneath your step, then to ever see one at roost among the leaves.
Did I tell you I heard a whip-poor-will singing last night?
Friday, April 25, 2008
We spend a lot of time concerning ourselves with how others see us, concerned about whether we measure up or fall short in the world around us. The more we do this, the less we truly know who we are. So come out into this world and live your life. Move through each day with your senses alert, your observing eyes and ears open. Interact with all of your being. And above all, feel. Your feelings are your guidance from within--your feelings are the only measure you will ever need.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Blossom the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.--Henry Wadsworth LongfellowA woman said to me, “I need to get away, go somewhere and figure out who I am.” And I thought, that could be a nice break, but what I hear in those words is ‘more of the same’. We do not discover who we are by thinking or even going someplace new to think. We take whoever we are with us and repeat what we know in our minds.
If you want your life to change, if you want to experience something different, you must do something different. Action invites discovery. It is in doing a new thing, in trying a different way that we discover who we are, where we are stuck, our attitudes, our true values--and only then, if we act with awareness. Everyday is full of new discoveries--we only need to pay attention.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Harshness cultivates harshness. Kindness cultivates kindness. Be kind in all your relationships. Be kind to the chair, to the car, to the lamp, to the door knob. Be kind to the earth, the wind, the butterfly, the sky. Cultivate kindness in all that you do—and kindness will become you.
Tiger Swallowtail--I loved the way she dove into that blossom.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
--Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones Witch Hobble is a common name for this variety of viburnum, a native shrub that grows mostly in the northeast but extends as far south as east Tennessee. Each intriguing blossom is like a factory producing a whole village of tiny flowerettes, all of which, are encircled by graceful, snowy white petals. Witch Hobble? Don't you just wonder about the story behind this name?
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I found more Quaker ladies sprouting among the mosses and a few more woodland flowers I had not yet seen. And I paid a visit to the wisteria hanging among the oak tree boughs. Unfortunately, this is not the native variety. Also visiting were a kettle of bees. I attracted some unpleasant stares, but happily, they were more interested in chasing each other than me.
Friday, April 18, 2008
My two early best friends. Me (left) and my sister on our pony, Cutie. I learned to ride at age five on this pony. When I fell off, my feelings were hurt and I didn't want to ride anymore. Knowing I was okay, my dad just laughed and said, "get back on" and I did, but only after he agreed he wouldn't make her trot this time. Me on the right with my sister. The tomboy in us is smiling through the frills.
--Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God
My priority today and until it is complete, is finishing my novel. This commitment, that the time is now, has given me a new kind of respect and admiration for published writers. It is enough to choose this priority over and over again midst the trials that life throws your way and among other daily demands. But then there is the eye strain and the aching joints from too much stillness and the mind-numbing reading and re-reading.
I've always loved reading and writing, but this experience has given me an even deeper appreciation for those who have gone before me. And so I continue, repeating this phrase in my head over and over again--"every single day, choose the same thing, choose your novel."
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky. This is where the courage comes in. Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.”
Monday, April 14, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Shovel-tusked elephant depicted in Gray Fossil Site Museum mural.
The discovery of the Gray Fossil Site , located in Gray, TN, in the southern Appalachian Mountains, is telling the world previously untold stories about the climate and wildlife in eastern North America 4.5 million years ago during the Miocene era. In doing so, this discovery is enriching the knowledge of scientists around the world. Exciting finds of pre-historic Red pandas, Shovel-tusked elephants, tapirs, rhinoceros, prehistoric badgers, camels and alligators, sabor-toothed tigers and sloths, all have brought new understanding to us about climate change and land mass formations from North America to Asia, all of this told through the stories of flora and fauna being uncovered at the site. Red Panda skull (left) compared to today's Red Panda (right) on display through the window of the paleontology lab. Constructed with wrap around windows, visitors can see the newest discoveries being processed and pieced together.
I love the stories. I love the way the earth speaks to us and tells her stories through nature. A journey into enrichment, an experience beyond the everyday and into the wonders of time and change--nature, with a different face, showing her depth and endurance.
A special thank you to Stephen Lyn Bales and Ijams Nature Center for organizing this trip back in time.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
“Three pages of whatever crosses your mind—that’s all there is to it. If you can’t think of anything to write, then write, “I can’t think of anything to write….”
Your morning pages will stand by you through thick and thin, through joy and sorrow. They will clean out the clutter and stop the foolishness. They center your integrity and solidify what’s important. They become your best friend. And then you become your best friend.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Floating in the blue,
This little wildwood star
Blooms in light and dew...."
--Ellen Mackay Hutchinson Cortissoz, Quaker Ladies, 1900 I found these dainty Quaker Ladies nodding with rain droplets on a sparsely wooded slope among mosses and leaves. Kin to the woodland Bluet, these exquisite little flowers dot meadows and wooded clearings from April to May with a happy sprinkling of blue sky.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
One decision at a time, a life is lived.
The name of this painting is “Pink”. It began as a wash of pigment brushed on wet paper with nothing in particular in mind, except to see what a bit of rock salt sprinkled here and there would create. The next step was to define something, a shape, a form, a suggestion. The first time I tried this, I struggled. My mind was blank. I saw nothing. Nothing came to me, except frustration and the feeling, maybe I can’t do this. Maybe I hate this.
I revisit that place from time to time, where desire and doubt butt heads. Desire wins out with a little perseverance. And the next thing I know something magical has happened and I created it—me and the water and the pigment and the Universe--one decision at a time.
Ocean Trail at Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, California--2015
Bird-banding at Seven Islands State Birding Park--2014
Bird-banding at Seven Islands
Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill!--2014
Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane banners and son, John--2014
The Incredible Muir Woods near Stinson Beach, CA--2014
Me and Denali--2012
For the Love of It...