Sunday, February 26, 2012

Curving my Enthusiasm · 365 Project

I was very excited to see this Curve Billed Thrasher at my suet feeder this morning. Normally, I hear but don't see them, so I hurried to get this picture (which explains the blinds). There were other pictures that showed the extreme curve better, but this was the overall best shot.

I also had an Abert's Towhee at the suet, which was  a first as well.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cloudless Sunset · 365 Project

Cloudless Sunset by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

My walk today took me into the sunset, as it frequently does. Tonight's sunset was different from others I've captured. So smooth! Not a cloud in the sky! I love how the palms and other trees are silhouetted against the sky.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Centennial · 365 Project

Centennial by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

Arizona celebrated the centennial of its statehood on February 14th. The only person I know that old passed away yesterday. He was my baby doctor, present at my birth. Now at rest. He was a kind, gentle man--the epitome of a good man. The pastor of his church sent out an e-mail quoting the end of William Cullen Bryant's poem "Thanatopsis" that I have written about here before. They say it very well:

So live that when thy summons comes to join
the innumerable caravan which moves
to that mysterious realm, where each shall take
his chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not like the quarry slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
by an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Arabian Days · 365 Project

Arabian Days by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I went to the Arabian Horse Show in Scottsdale this afternoon...late enough so that admission was free...early enough to see several classes display their expertise.

The first class featured young ladies and their horses in full Arabian costume.  I thought outfits for both rider and horse were lovely.

Then I watched the Ladies English Side Saddle (I'm sure I'm not remembering the exact category, but you get the drift). I have no idea how they stayed on their horses when they were asked to go faster. One girl almost got bucked off. There's really no way to get a grip on your horse if that happens!

Next I watched at a couple of practice rings.  This guy was all dressed up, perhaps for the next class to be judged.  Others were much more informally dressed.

Then I saw the judging at an outdoor ring for two or three classes.  These riders were dressed more formally than the following group.  The judges had the horses walk, trot, and "jog," among other things.  Since I don't know much, if anything, about horse shows, most everything I saw was unknown to me.

One was half Arabians in Western costume.  This guy won in his class.  The saddles of many of the riders were quite beautiful, with silver decorations on quite a number of them.  A lot of the riders were much more dressed up than this guy.  The horses were all beautiful.

I walked by the places where the big stables were housed (as opposed to individuals who stayed in campers or huge motor homes).  And I wandered through the shops, too, which cost be a few pennies. In all, a very pleasant afternoon!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

California Sunset · 365 Project

California Sunset by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

California sunsets are vastly different from what I'm used to in Arizona. I don't know if it's a combination of smog and sun, but they are differently beautiful I think. I made the 5 hour trek from Phoenix to Loma Linda this afternoon to spend the weekend with my nice, nephew, sister, and brother-in-law. The latter three are coming out from Boston, so we'll have a nice little reunion for a few days.

The trip was uneventful. Usually I snatch photos (usually through a dirty window) of the scenery as I whiz by, but this time I focused on some of the funny signs I saw along the way. I didn't get them all (my favorite was "Sore Finger Road"), but I got several pretty good ones.

The pictures are shown backwards here, from Redlands, CA to Phoenix, AZ.  The first two show the sunset when it finally became comfortable to drive.  There were long moments when the road was aiming directly at that setting sun and the road was literally a river of orange and gold.  Beautiful, but extremely difficult to drive in.  What had been 70 mph traffic slowed down to 60 mph (thankfully for me!) until the road curved away for awhile.  Then it would pick up again until the next time we were in the direct path of that brilliant, but potentially dangerous, sunset.

The windmill picture is taken as I was driving through the "Palm" cities:  29 Palms, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs.  I don't remember now which one this is.  Doesn't matter.  Along the highway, they all have these windmills whirring at various speeds.

Depending on which part of which state you're in, you are either crossing "ditches" or "washes."  Many of them have funny names, like this one:  "Rubble" ditch.  Some are more descriptive than others, often recording disappointments or victories relating (I suspect) to gold mining.  The one that made me laugh out loud?  "Mud Ditch."  Nothing like stating the obvious.

I couldn't capture them while driving (and through my very dirty side windows), but in certain areas, you are bound to see dozens of little dust whirls.  I don't know what they are really called, but this sign warns you to be careful of the dust and wind.  I've not experienced any driving trouble from anything I've seen in the half dozen or so trips I've taken on this route (#10), but the little swirls of dust that zip over the desert are kind of amusing to see...and kind of cool, too, as you're actually seeing how the wind works--the invisible becomes visible through the dust!

I always stop in the little town (too small to be a city from my perspective) of Quartzsite.  It's about 25 miles from the AZ/CA border.  There's not much to it except it seems to be very big on RV vehicles and equipment.  There are several businesses competing with each other on both sides of the highway.  And then there are several campgrounds along either side as well.  Personally, these places do not fit my definite of campsite AT ALL.  One is right in the town, with RVs jammed one on top of the other.  I can't imagine who would give up their home space for that!  And then there are the others, where there is miles (not quite, but a lot) of space in between campsites...but the RV or tents are just sitting in the middle of nothing, with nothing to look at, nothing to give you privacy, nothing to do...  Boggles my mind...  Perhaps there is something I don't know, can't see from my limited perspective on the highway.

The picture above and the next two pictures here are from the town itself. They sell a lot of flags...not the state or US flag, but flags that advertise stuff.  And I don't know the appeal of salt-free water, or the need for it...never thought of water as having salt in the first place, but it seems like a big deal here.  Interested me...

Then there's the jerky.  For miles before I came to the town, there were signs advertising "Really Good" beef jerky.  Being vegetarian, I don't understand its popularity, but this town seems to have the answer to anyone's jerky cravings!

The first place I stopped is about an hour into my trip.  Yesterday, I stopped because I was so sleepy I thought I was going to need a nap.  Instead I got out and walked around and was surprised to see signs for poisonous snakes and insects!  I didn't see any that day.  Guess I'm glad, although it would have been cool to have pictures of such things in the wild instead of in captivity the way I've always seen them before.

I want to say the place is called "Burnt Mill" but that might just be my imagination or faulty memory.  It's a nice rest stop, though, with interesting information about the desert flora and fauna as well as maps and such.

The last picture in line comes out of Phoenix advertising a Tattoo Exposition.  I can only imagine what that might mean!!!  Alas, I will not be quenching my curious thirst for knowledge at this Exposition!  I may find myself at the Home and Garden Show in a couple of weeks, though.  Much more to my taste!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teacher Valentines · 365 Project

Teacher Valentines by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I was showered with valentine sweets today from the start of the day through its end. Candles, candies, cupcakes, cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, sweet thank you notes in journals, good conversations, cooperative and engaged classes. It was a good day. Most days I love what I do. This was one of them =)

This is just part of what wound up on my desk throughout the day.  I especially I love the "Teachers R All-write!"  How appropriate for an English teacher!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Another beautiful sunset · 365 Project

Another beautiful sunset by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I keep thinking I've seen the most beautiful sunset ever. And then another one comes along. It's not always easy to take a picture that does the real thing justice, but this one comes pretty close. I don't know why I'm so obsessed with sunsets. I must have hundreds of pictures of them by now from Arizona and Maine, primarily--oh, and Massachusetts. My drive to work usually takes place during the sunrise and my drive back home takes place during the sunset see a lot of beauty. But you have to be in the right time and place to get a good shot. Tonight, I actually stopped to get this one...

And speaking of sunsets, this time figuratively, another of my life's inspirational suns set last night--the husband of my friend Virginia, who passed away in August.  Harvey was a kind a gentle man.  I never heard him say a cross word or make a complaint.  He was the consumate supportive husband, a true Christian gentleman.  He went as peacefully as he lived, with loved ones at his bedside.  He will sleep in Jesus...  "One short sleep pasts, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die."  I look forward to that day when we all wake eternally...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Molten Gold · 365 Project

Molten Gold by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

There's a house a couple of blocks from school that has an amazing yard in the spring (I say spring because that what it looks and feel like to me right now, even if it is still technically winter). What is otherwise a yard full of small stone, for several weeks in February and March it is filled with flowers. First, it's just green, but now, it's all yellow and it the look of gold almost! It's quite pretty (an understatement).

Down the street from this house is another house with the same flowers, but not as many. And down another street there are a few flowers, obviously brought there randomly by the wind. Definitely a pleasurable sight!

A Prayer in Spring by Robert Frost

OH, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orcahrd white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Carded · 365 Project

Carded by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I was grading journals this morning when this card fell out of one! It was from one of my senior boys who is an avid reader. He'd been talking about a book he really wanted to read and I found it and bought it for him. He was so pleased...and responded with this nice thank you card. It's amazing how little things can make a difference to some...

Monday, February 06, 2012

Full Snow Moon · 365 Project

Full Snow Moon by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

February's Full Moon is called the "Snow Moon" or "Hunger Moon." Native American tribes from the north and east. Clearly not from the desert southwest!

I'm thinking tonight of the famous "Blizzard of '78" that occurred in Massachusetts on this date 34 years ago. I remember when it was first starting to snow that afternoon. I was skipping across campus with my boyfriend (literally) when we noticed we were in a kind of snowy fog. By the time I got home later that afternoon, we knew this was not going to be the usual snowstorm. Hours later it was still snowing. The snow piled up so high that my sisters and I jumped out our second story bedroom window the next day, just because we could without fear of injury! Our collie dog got lost in the snow when we let him out. He actually disappeared from sight!

Schools were closed for days. My college closed for the first and only time in its entire history. So did Harvard University. When it was finally clear and safe to drive again, we found ourselves driving along streets piled so high with snow that you could not see over the walls of snow. Snow mobile owners were kept busy delivering doctors and other essential personnel to hospitals all over the Boston area. It was crazy. Exciting. Fun. Memorable. A once-in-a-lifetime snowstorm I'm thinking...

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Not to Be · 365 Project

Not to Be by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I was hoping to post a victory picture or two, but it was not to be.
Giants 21, Patriots 17.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Desert Sunset · 365 Project

Desert Sunset by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

Tonight I took a drive up to Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West to watch the sun set. It was amazingly beautiful and I got some good shots except for the power lines streaking through most of them. I was reminded of what I heard on the tour a year upset he was about the power lines as he was building his home overlooking the upset that he actually turned his house plans around so that he would have a view of the mountains instead of the power lines. I get it now =) Still, it was a beautiful sunset...

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Through all the Sky · 365 Project

Through all the Sky by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

Day is dying in the west;
Heav'n is touching earth with rest;
Wait and worship while the night
Sets the evening lamps alight
Through all the sky.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heav'n and earth are full of Thee,
Heav'n and earth are praising Thee,
O Lord most high!

Lord of life, beneath the dome
Of the universe, Thy home,
Gather us who seek Thy face
To the fold of Thy embrace,
For Thou art nigh.

While the deepening shadows fall,
Heart of love enfolding all,
Through the glory and the grace
Of the stars that veil Thy face,
Our hearts ascend.

When forever from our sight
Pass the stars, the day, the night.
Lord of angels, on our eyes
Let eternal morning rise
And shadows end.