Looking at the Scenic View

View map
Point, tap

We travel to find calm
The road our healing balm

Our destination isn’t set
Hot meal, clean bed not a sure bet

Smooth or rough road
All cares unload

Ignore the warning sign
Keep moving down the line

Pause every day
Give thanks and pray

The above is a Hexaduad. That is a rhyming verse of 12 lines written in 6 rhyming couplets. The trick is that each couplet has a specific syllable count (by line): 2/2 6/6 8/8 4/4 6/6 4/4 and each couplet must rhyme and no rhymes can be repeated in other couplets.

As you read this I am recovering from the scenic trip that Sparky planned out for us. We managed to travel to Utah by flying into Las Vegas (one of my least favorite cities). From there we rented a car and drove to Mesa Verde National Park where we hiked and found a couple geocaches (Sparky promised we wouldn’t be doing any “death marches” but he lied). From there we headed to Arches National Park. We were turned away (reminiscent of our attempt to enter Canada). Sparky didn’t realize we had to have reservations and they were all booked for the next 3 months! We ended up at Canyonlands National Park instead. It was much less strenuous or so it seemed. We followed that by visiting Dead Horse Point State Park. By the end of the day we had 9 caches! The next day we went to Arches National Park. We had to be at the gate at 5:30 AM so that we could enter without a reservation.  The views were beautiful and we stood at the cache locations and just soaked in the beauty of it all. From there it was on to Capitol Reef National Park. This had several caches along the road but unlike the other parks was much less developed. That meant we were not outfitted or experienced enough to hike the trails. I did have my walking stick but that wasn’t going to help much… The next stop was Bryce Canyon National Park. This was a much tamer place than I expected. There were very nicely paved walks to overlooks and the trails were well marked and groomed. Sparky took photos. I tried. I’m always disappointed in my pictures since they don’t capture the grandeur of the place. I felt the breeze and feasted on the magnificence of creation. I breathed the air and soon after started to feel ill. The next day we ended up in Zion National Park. There were a couple of virtual and earth caches that didn’t require belaying ropes and a death wish. We decided to travel by the Park Shuttle since I wasn’t feeling too perky. The next morning I was definitely sick. We headed to Sin City and I slept for most of the day. Anyway, despite the uncertainty of travel, lack of comfortable beds, and having to rely on dry cereal for more meals than anticipated, it was a very good trip (not counting the last 36 hours). Driving in mountainous terrain certainly is a motivator for prayer – for safety, thanksgiving for deliverance from death, and praise for the magnificence of creation. If you’ve read this far here are some photos for your enjoyment!

Looking Woven

Finding A Voice

There is quiet but not silence
Follow the rhythm of breathing
Blink with rustling of eyelashes
Hear the humming of hearts beating

Creaking joints as positions shift
There is quiet but not silence
A small murmur of discomfort
Introspection on world violence

Look inward at private struggles
Lips move as prayers remain wordless
There is quiet but not silence
Kindness surrounds with forgiveness

Still our tongues to hear the message
Put aside human defiance
Listen to Love softly whisper
There is quiet but not silence

This is a French form, a Quatern, having 16 lines written in 4 quatrains with 8 syllables per line. The first line of the 1st quatrain becomes the second line of the 2nd quatrain, the third line of the 3rd quatrain, and finally the last line of the 4th quatrain. To satisfy the requirements of Wea’ve Written Weekly (W3) as Kerfe’s directions specify a poem of 16 lines or less with the first line and the last line are identical.

Looking for Home

Today was supposed to be the post where I upload all sorts of photos and tell all the tales of travel exploits. Instead I’m miserable and sick in bed. We managed to make it home but I’m not really up to anything – not even washing all the travel clothes. Sparky is notorious for not wearing a mask while I am a conscientious mask wearer. Sadly he caught something. And as usual he passed it off as allergies. I road in a car and slept in the same bed with the germ king. Now I have it 5 times worse than he ever did. I’m hoping to get a post up for the trip as soon as I’m human again. in the meantime I’m going through Kleenex™ like there is no shortage of trees. I’m coughing so hard I’m going to have abs of steel… Until I recover you’ll just have to be satisfied with the following days prescheduled posts. And yes I’ve taken a COVID test and it was positive so today will be calling in to the doctor’s office where they will NOT want me to come in. Son #2 will be doing some grocery shopping while we remain in quarantine…

Looking for Calm

There is a tendency to dwell in the eye of the storm. I seek that oasis while chaos swirls. I’m not alone in that desire to escape. Right now I feel that life is tilting and sliding me away from comfort. The way I deal with upheaval must reveal some sort character strength or flaw that will bring down judgement on my head. Being mindful of the consequences of my actions, I have evaluated my response to unpleasantness.

1. I have an overly developed flight response. I prefer to avoid confrontation if at all possible.
2. I try to use my words. I believe in détente and compromise to avoid conflict.
3. Physical confrontation is not in my repertoire. I outgrew that by the time I reached middle school. That said I will defend myself. And I will fight “dirty”.
4. My belief in the goodness of mankind is not often shaken in my day to day interactions. That said, I cringe and my soul writhes when I view the turmoil in this world.

Thus I am conflicted. I don’t like seeing the hurt or knowing the details of the torment but I am compelled by conscience to be informed. My instinct is to turn away. A little Tanka to close out this post:

I question my God
When justice isn’t enough
For the scarred and scared
Will the wounded ever heal
Can love mend the divided

Looking Under the Microscope

No one likes to be scrutinized. I’m a confident person and I worked under a microscope for many years. Such is the atmosphere of being the target of bullying – you are always being observed in an attempt to find fault, an opening for criticism, or even a reason for dismissal. I survived by being near perfect in all my tasks (the few mistakes that I made were corrected before being noted). I’m the exception. There were many who couldn’t handle the pressure. They exited. Some went away quietly like a wisp of smoke. Others made a fuss and drew attention to the inequity of the situation. And still others tried to stick it out only to have breakdowns (I was the witness to 2 people having mental collapses). Once I retired (actually before when SWMNBN was cut loose and the new bully I mean boss decided to absent himself from the workplace) all the pressure dissipated. I could do my job without being scrutinized and criticized for the way I breathed. I enjoyed the feeling of not being examined so very closely.

I have completed 2 studies this year for the professor I had been working for. This is because all the Post-Docs and Graduate Students that had been doing animal work left the lab. The 2 new lab members started after the first of the year and are slowly getting up to speed. So now the word is that I will have a few more studies coming up. The new Post-Doc is a newly minted Microbiologist who happens to be a Veterinarian! We have worked on the previous studies together. Although they didn’t go as well as hoped, any issues were not on my part. He seems reluctant to trust that I know what I’m doing. His inexperience has manifested itself as close scrutiny of what I’m doing. That might make some hands shake but not me. I’ve been there done that. I know the drill. I’m hopeful that we will learn to work well together. Still I do miss the 3 previous Post-Docs.

Looking at Longing

With sun in my eyes
Evade my gaze, look away
Away from what is or was
Wake me
Always from dreams
I attempt still weary
To find a searching heart
Longing for a golden ring
One special companion
Venture into a future
Even as the past follows

A little acrostic for your reading pleasure. How is it that humans are never satisfied? We find the smallest thing and are intent on possessing it. We pin our whole happiness on that one thing. For some it is a car and others a wedding ring. Some desire wealth, fame, education, praise, those intangible things while others want a motorcycle, a computer, the latest iPhone, that one pair of tennis shoes. And when they get what they wanted find it isn’t enough. I have found that true happiness is a sense of gratitude and satisfaction wrapped in connections with others.

Looking Cryptic

I apologize in advance for the cryptic nature of this post. It is important to me to share and yet it is equally important to preserve the privacy of individuals. With that disclaimer, I leave it to you to ‘read between the lines’ and decipher as you can.

Hurt and pain can come at anytime and from any direction. For the empathetic, it is the same whether it is their own or that of someone they love – they feel deeply. When the whole of their world is in agony, only the strongest can withstand the battering.

Being strong is not being able to stand immovable. Mountains appear strong but they are being eroded by wind and water. I see strength as the wind. It moves or is moved yet no knife cuts to its heart. Hurl arrows and they are slowed and finally fall unable to reach their mark. It slides effortlessly around the world. It parts for obstacles yet leaves its mark.

They say to go with the flow. There are some who visualize the flow of time, the Qi, or tides. It is always more work to go against the flow. Going with the flow relieves you of decision-making, responsibility, even the need to make an effort. There comes a time when you have to choose a path. Some are much more difficult than others. If you jump into the ocean, you have to know that you must either swim against the tide to reach land, go with the flow which will leave you open to the whims of your surroundings, or sink to the bottom. Life is choices – choose wisely.

Just so you know, everyone is afraid. The fearless still have that seed of fear waiting to spring into full flower. Some are so afraid that they cower from their own shadow. Some folks walk around whistling a happy tune so that no one will know they are afraid. Others challenge their fears. They do deeds of daring – base jumping, skydiving, running triathlons, pushing their minds and bodies to the limit and pushing fear away. But the fear is always there and they continue to push until it finally pushes back. And they face the biggest fear of all – death.

My advice – shed a tear for those hurting, and cry when you are hurt. The tears will wash you clean. Then rise up and be the wind and go where you will. Jump in and swim against the current. Become a friend to fear and let it be the voice of reason as you dance and spin. Take it with you on your journey….

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Looking Sexy

I played with the form known as the Jue Ju or Jueju (depending on the poetry site you use). This form is from the Chinese which they consider a “modern” type since it isn’t as old as the oldest Chinese forms. But I digress. The Jueju is a 4 line poem that consists of 5 or 7 word signs that when converted to English can either mean 5 or 7 words per lines OR 5 or 7 syllables per line. The poem uses compact language to maximize meaning. This form is often erotic. So for your enjoyment – a sexy Jueju!

His clothes slowly, carelessly dropped
She watched breathless, blushing, bedside
Her eyes cast downward paused
He gathered clothes for laundry

Now before you are too disappointed in this teaser. I just want all the guys to know that there is absolutely nothing sexier to a woman than a man who can decrease her work load. If a guy can find the laundry basket with his dirty clothes, help wash the dishes, give the kids a bath… that man has engaged in the most wonderful foreplay known to woman!

As an aside, I’m going to be traveling for the next 10 days. I’m geocaching with Sparky across Utah hitting 5 National Parks in 8 days. It has been my experience that cell reception and internet connections are spotty at best and completely unreliable as the norm. If I’m absent from your sites and there are no comments from me do not despair. I will attempt to drop in as I can on the road and I’ll try my best to catch up once I return! See you all on the 25th!

Looking Stymied

As part of my goals for this year I wanted to expand my culinary repertoire. To that end I attempted a side dish/accompaniment namely onion jam. The recipe looked easy. Sparky and I had gone to a restaurant (one of those trendy places that seem promising but fold after 6 -12 months) and they served onion jam with their burgers. Sparky liked it so I thought I’d give it a try. The recipes were all mostly the same with a few slight differences. I chose this one from the multitude on the internet that had over 500 reviews with a 5 star rating:

Caramelized Onion Jam
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion chopped (1/4 inch dice)
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c + 2 T. white balsamic vinegar
1 sprig parsley, 1 sprig rosemary, 1 bay leaf tied together

Heat the olive oil until shimmering and then add the onion. Cook over med-high heat stirring occasionally until caramelized (about 15 min). Turn the heat to low and toss in the herb bundle and heat until fragrant stirring a few times until it is fragrant. Sprinkle the sugar over the onions and cook without stirring until the sugar melts (about 5 min). Increase the heat to high and cook without stirring until an amber-brown caramel forms (about 6 min). Stir in the vinegar and simmer over low heat stirring a few times until the jam is thick (about 5 min). Remove the herb bundle. Add salt to taste. Can store in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

This was a labor of love since I can’t stand the smell of vinegar and Balsamic vinegar is its own special kind of pungent. I really tried. But in the end it was a complete disaster. It was so bad that I didn’t take any photos. Well, not photos of the food. I followed this recipe to the letter. Sparky sampled it and declared it inedible. I make sure any internet recipe has lots of positive reviews but this time the internet failed me. I’m still trying to get the sauce pan cleaned and I may end up purchasing a new one!

Looking at the Kiln

I’ve been working on some ceramic pieces. In fact I never stopped working, I just stopped posting photos of my pieces. I looked back and discovered that there were zero/zilch posts with my latest ceramic orbs. So catch everyone up I’ve dedicated this post to the art that was and maybe shouldn’t have been…
The first one is the sea urchin. I’ve made this one several times and every time there is a problem. First it was that the spines drooped (too thin), then they stuck to the kiln shelf and broke when it was pried off. I then attempted it again and used a stain on the tips to prevent sticking but the glaze was contaminated and came out a matte instead of shiny. So here we are, I used a small stand and glazed in Phil’s Celadon with Hannah’s Buttermilk on the tips. It didn’t stick, nothing broke off, and the glaze worked. What a relief!

The next piece for your consideration is one of the viral representations. This one is based on the common cold. I was not pleased with the glaze on this one. I used Atomic Purple and Grape. The Atomic Purple is very faded and looks nearly grey. It also got a little gloppy (using a technical term) which diminished the detail. Still overall it looks just as it should!

The third one for your perusal is another virus. A papillomavirus to be precise. This one was done in Gold Shino with Royal Blue accents. I was very pleased to see the beautiful sheen of the Gold Shino glaze but was a little disappointed to see that the Royal blue glaze ran a little. The points had been very carefully dotted with blue glaze which cooperated and made very perfect little bubbles of glaze on top of each spike. Such is life when at the mercy of the kiln gods.

The fourth one from the Winter session was a toss up. Literally. I tripped while carrying it to the glaze room. I guess I was quite the spectacle but I made a superior save (I have cat like reflexes from years of catching mice that think they can make a break for it and I think I could have been a Seeker and helped win the Quidditch trophy). Anyway after saving it from shattering, I was able to glaze it. I had hoped that the Ochre Celadon background would make the Megan’s Blue discs and Grape centers really stand out. The Grape was good in some spots and nonexistent in others. That went double for the Megan’s Blue. I’m going to blame it on diluted glazes. Anyway there were offerings to the Kiln gods (since I was not the only one having issues) and that took care of the problems! I hope!