Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Trying to come up for air

So far this week has had moments that have been kind of like the time in California when I was ten years old and somebody decided I should take another round of swimming lessons. Okay. Except this time the teacher was a mean old, grouchy old man. Not at all like the kind, sweet, beautiful mermaid teacher I'd had for the first four weeks. We were racing in about six or eight feet of water. I didn't quite have my freestyle breathing coordinated, got a mouthful of water, choked a little, and couldn't get my breath. I tried to bob up and down so that I could get a good push off the bottom of the pool and clear the surface to get a good breath so that I could swim back to the side, but I couldn't get all the way to the bottom. I kept bobbing. I was getting tired and annoyed and what little breath I had left was about gone. Suddenly I was yanked out of the water by one of the teacher's assistants, a sweet high school or college student who seemed a lot more panicked than I was. She sort of frantically asked me if I was okay. "Are you okay??!!" Oh. Was I okay? I gasped for breath, blinked, and decided I was okay. "Yeah. I'm okay." We swam back to the side together where the mean old, grouchy old teacher yelled at me for not yelling for help. Now how was I supposed to yell for help if I couldn't get my head above water? Yep. It's been kind of like that a few times this week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

More Gulf Shores, 11/6/2015

When I stepped out of my room at 5:45 a.m. to go to the beach, I encountered really thick fog and decided that I'd skip trying to get there in time to greet the sun at 6:08. Visibility at 6:30 was not a great deal better, but I was eager to get on over to Gulf State Park. For park info see

(larger views may be available for some photos by clicking on them)

Pretty clear by 7:00, but the condos and hotels down the beach were still wearing a blanket of fog. 

Obviously, the fishing pier is a great place to fish, but it is also a great spot for making photos. It is 1540 feet long, extending out into the Gulf for more than a quarter of a mile, and according to the website, is the second longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico. More info here: 

A shot from the pier looking out to sea.

And looking toward shore. 

My gear is ready to be hauled down to the beach. I'm traveling as light as possible and don't want to make multiple trips back and forth, so I only take the bare necessities.  I do not tan well, so the ever-present sunscreen and a source of shade, my celestial print umbrella, are a must.  

My nest for the day will require reconfiguring as the sun moves across the sky.

Sun. Warm weather. No crowds. Very nice. Good for several hours.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Short trip to the beach

I took myself down to Gulf Shores a few weeks ago (November 5-7). There was a break in the rainy weather, so I decided to head down there. I have missed our frequent trips to the Gulf and it has been three years since I'd been. The favorable weather forecast was a sure sign that it was time to hurry down before it started raining again. It looked like I'd have two good days at the beach. My goal was to spend time at Gulf State Park where there is plenty of beachfront to explore, an excellent fishing pier with various accommodations that include clean restrooms, and nature trails and points of interest on the areas of the park around Lake Shelby.

One thing I hoped to do while I was there was get some photos of sunrise over the Gulf. However, I awoke to heavy fog both days and decided to wait to go to the park until about 6:30 each morning. Wait a minute! This trip is supposed to be for relaxation and I'm actually thinking of heading to the beach before sunrise every day?? I guess I'm finding out the lengths to which I'm willing to go in order to get a photograph. 

Here's a shot of the sunrise through the fog at about 6:30 Friday morning.
(larger views may be available for some photos by clicking on them)

The state park is a couple of miles from the hotel where I stayed, requiring that I drive down to the pier. Even the closest hotel is probably a mile from the park entrance, making it necessary to drive if you are planning to take much gear. I had a folding camp chair, beach umbrella, a backpack stuffed with all my smaller necessities, and one of my two trekking poles to assist with walking because of my gimpy hip. There used to be a nice lodge on the beach at the park, but it was the victim of at least one hurricane a few years ago. There are plans to rebuild, but it seems that bureaucracy and funding issues have the project on hold. 

 The fog was lifting a bit when I got to the pier parking lot around 6:40 and I got this nice shot. 

By the time I got my gear together and got down to the beach, it was about 7:00. I took numerous shots of the sun a few degrees above the horizon. 

The day turned out to be beautiful and warm with few people on the beach. There was lots of fishing activity at the pier and early in the day there were fishermen on the beach as well. Going to the beach at this time of year is so different from the summer visits. Of course, the beach areas at the hotels and condos have much more activity, but the state park area is considerably less crowded. It is one of my favorite places to go. 

What a warm and beautiful day. I really enjoyed my brief time there. It has been much too long since I've been down to the Gulf. I should definitely consider doing this again, weather permitting.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I'm Back! I Guess

Long time no blog and am trying to do better. Have I said that before??

For my  "Welcome Back" post, I have a rant to get out of my system. I'll try to be brief.

On November 5, I went down to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for a couple of days to enjoy the scenery and pleasant atmosphere at Gulf State Park. On the way down, I had to pass through the town of Foley, Alabama. Had I reached Foley during the daytime, I might not have noticed the Christmas decorations on the lightposts as I drove through the town. It was dark and the lights of the decorations were quite noticeable. Wait.  Didn't we just have Halloween? Isn't Thanksgiving coming up at the end of November? Do we really need to jump straight from Halloween decorations on September 1 (and I really like Halloween) to Christmas decorations on November 1? What happened to the harvest-oriented decorations (admitttedly, I can take or leave them) that used to be everywhere this time of year? I love Christmas, but really have no desire to look at Christmas decorations for two months any more than I want to look at Halloween decorations for two months. I guess I'm just an old cranky person. For those of you who enjoy putting up Halloween decorations on September 1 and Christmas decorations on November 1, fine, you are going to do it anyway. My apologies if I have seriously offended any of you. I just hope I don't have to listen to Christmas music everywhere I go starting next week.

Well, that's it. More later.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


These are skeins of yarn I've spun up from some fiber blending fun I've had since summer 2013. They are spun as  single  strands that would typically be respun with at least one other strand, a process called plying that yields 2-ply, 3-ply, or X-ply depending on how many strands are plied (twisted) together. These were so nice as single strand yarn, known as "singles," that I decided to leave them as is and not ply them. I will use them for freestyle weaving projects such as wall hangings, scarves, and shawls, but not soon. I love looking at these skeins just the way they are. The colors and textures  make me happy. I want to enjoy them like this for a while before I do anything else with them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Great Blue Heron

Some bad cell phone photos of Great Blue Herons made at various locations over the past few years

Ditto Landing, Huntsville, AL

Madison County Lake, AL

Gulf Shores State Park, FL

And back to Ditto Landing

Saturday, October 18, 2014

An Amazing Place: Crater Lake National Park

The long lost blogger has returned with more travel photos.

Our daughter went to visit a friend in Portland, Oregon back in March. The visit led to a summer job out there. We went to visit her in July and one place I really, really had to see was Crater Lake. What an indescribably beautiful place! 

I first heard of Crater Lake in 1974 when I was taking geology classes in college as a possible minor to my anthropology major. One of my classes focused on the geology of our national parks. Two parks that were already on my "must see" list were the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, but when the professor introduced us to Crater Lake, I knew that I absolutely had to add it to my list. So many years passed that I never really thought I'd make it. Then the Daughter went to work in Oregon for almost three months. Her dad and I planned a visit and Crater Lake was one of the places I did not intend to miss. 

Crater Lake was created about 7,700 years ago when a volcano of approximately 10,000-12,000 feet in height, now known as Mt. Mazama, erupted, causing the top to collapse and creating the existing caldera that is filled about halfway with water. Crater Lake is is about six miles long and four miles wide. The water is nearly 2000 feet deep and is some of the purest on earth. The lake is fed only by rain and snow. The water level is fairly constant due to evaporation and some seepage. No recreational watercraft are allowed and swimming is limited to one beach area at the end of the only trail where, according to the NPS Crater Lake brochure, "it is safe and legal to get down to the lake shore." The steeply sloping sides of the interior of the caldera range from 500 feet to almost 2000 feet from the rim to the lake surface. 

Daughter and friend enjoy the view from a most precarious spot. She's the one in the red shirt.

After the eruption of Mt. Mazama that left the approximately 4000-foot deep hole, there were several other eruptions over the next 300-400 years. As a result, there are  several other cinder cone volcanoes within Crater Lake. The only one that is visible from the surface of the lake is known as Wizard Island. It rises a total of about  2,700 feet from the bottom of the lake and is about 755 feet above the current lake surface.  There are three tour boats (the only watercraft other than two maintenance boats allowed on the lake) operated by Crater Lake National Park that make stops at Wizard Island. 

The caldera in the top of Wizard Island is about 500 feet across and 100 feet deep.

A view of Wizard Island from the Visitor Center overlook.

One final shot of Crater Lake. 

My cell phone photos do not do it justice. Actually, no photos really do. If you ever have the opportunity to travel to the Pacific Northwest, I hope you make Crater Lake National Park one of your destinations. It is about 125 miles from Eugene, Oregon and about 60 miles from Klamath Falls, Oregon. It was about a 4-hour drive from Portland and well worth the time.