Monday, October 24, 2011

The Salton Sea

Less than an hour from Palm Springs, purely by chance of nature and her seemingly random musings, the Salton Sea is currently the largest lake in California.  Yet is also one of the strangest areas I have ever visited.  (And I make a point of seeking out the unusual.)
A beautiful blue, seemingly an oasis in the desert where recreation and waterfront property abounds...

 Where Date Palms grow heavy with delectable fruit...

But then, look closer...  Among the lovely 1950's neighborhoods with streets that all seem to include the word 'beach' in their names is the truth about this desolate place.

At some point, it became clear that this 'French Riviera' in the California desert was never really ever going to be.

Those idealistic dreams halted just as quickly as they started.  All building stopped abruptly and eventually most people fled from the Salton Sea as the realization set in that the water would continue to get saltier and saltier.

The sea became uninhabitable for most life.  Only certain bird species remain.

And some sort of wicked Dr. Seuss-like forest...

The origins of the Salton Sea are somewhat confusing and there seems to be a natural cyclical force at work here.  Still, you can't help but feel as though it is somewhat sad to see what might have been and what never was.  The smells are fierce and the flies are numerous.  I consider myself pretty hardy, but even I could not take an extended exposure to this place.  It was fascinating and yet not a place I would probably ever return to.

Below is a you tube video that I feel portrays the area very well.  I never did make it to the 'God Is Love' area.  Remember to pause my music player.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Enchanting Desert- Palm Springs, California

Palm trees are always such a special treat for me.

Taken at a gas station- can you believe it?
or night...
Did you see the crescent moon?

Peacock Flowers in the afternoon sun:


 Poolside beauties:

Bougainvillea- the flower that tells me I'm in a place that I'm about to fall in love with:                  

 The lemon tree in the background sent me home with 
fruit that has become jelly, and I call it 'sunshine in a jar'...

The Palm Springs Art Museum with a polished reflection of natural surroundings 
that contrasts with the modern art hiding inside the building:


Hard to believe all of this exists in a hot, dry desert 
where water is scarce and the sun beats down 350 days a year.
Somehow, beauty that endures less than ideal conditions is even more alluring...


Monday, October 10, 2011

A Better Boat To Be In

Since I've been back home I have been scrambling to get things cleaned up and ready for the stormy Fall season that has already reared its ugly head enough to drop a big tree branch a little too close to one side of our fence.  Even after all the work that my nephews Dad did for me, there is still more to do.  (I once had a guy from Texas who had recently moved to the northwest ask me why people here never trim their yards.  He said it looked like some kind of unruly jungle.)  But it is much easier to deal with at this point.  I'm almost caught up and will get to some interesting stuff that we experienced during that wonderful trip that I just returned from and told y'all that I would share.  Meanwhile, indulge me as I let you in on what goes through my head while I'm out there in the yard trimming, hauling, and chopping away... 

When I was growing up there were many interesting patterns that went on in our household.  Being the oldest and the 'responsible' one I took on a sort of reaction that today we might call hyper vigilance (in psychology speak).  It was my unspoken job to make sure that things ran as smoothly as possible while trying hard to please people who were frankly not interested in ever being that pleased at all.  So patterns were very important.  I needed to be aware of who was about to have a blow-up, what was expected for holiday traditions (-you know the ones where certain people get drunk and ruin everything), which boxes to unpack first after our biannual moves.  That way I could at least keep our household boat afloat, even if the passengers on board were not necessarily enjoying the ride.

Now, as an adult, I try not to over think every little thing as I once did.  But, like most who have done something that worked for a very long time, it is sometimes hard to break a pattern. Even if it doesn't really work at all any more.

One day, while I had a contractor friend of mine over to help me put my faucets back in after we had granite counter-tops installed (cuz' you know you're supposed to hire a plumber to do that and I didn't realize how much of an extra cost that would be) I realized something interesting.  It's OK to celebrate half done projects.

In all my growing up we always did whatever we were doing until it was done.  No matter what.  Forget about breaking a project up into parts.  Forget about taking a rest.  Not acceptable.  And until not so long ago, I thought that was the best way to do it.  Be a hard worker.  Kill yourself to get it done.

And then my contractor took me aside and said, "hey, wait, let's just appreciate what we HAVE gotten done".  This was after I had successfully helped him to install 3 out of my 4 faucets, -one all by myself, and was feeling rotten because the last one wasn't working yet.  I wanted to keep working on that sucker until it was done.  No rest for the wicked.  It turned out the faucet had been broken upon its' removal and it needed to be replaced.  So I could have worked and worked and never would have accomplished more than we had at that point anyway.

This little lesson is what I was thinking about when I was out there dealing with the wind damage and saw that I would not be able to finish before days end.  The fence still needs a little work. 
Not my fence, but one that looks an awful lot like it.    Photo credit:  All Ways Fencing
Things are not as tidy as they should be.  But you know it's at least half way there and I actually think the quality of my work improves with a little time away and a second look.

Everything in this household may not be perfectly ship shape, but at least the passengers on this boat are smiling more often than not.  And hey, I can now install a faucet in about 20 minutes flat.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Still Kickin'

Warning: this is yet another doggy post.  Sorry to those who are annoyed.  I know we dog lovers can be a bit crazy... 

This morning I had just about the strangest sort of dress rehearsal that I can imagine. 
Y'all know that my dog, Parker, is very old and has had some health issues.  So there is no mystery to the idea that I could lose him in the near future.  I feel as though I have faced this fact with some level of maturity.

When I let my dogs outside this morning I got to face up to this reality a whole lot more.
Parker stumbled out the back door onto the wet deck as he often does.  But this time he coughed hard a couple of times and then kind of fainted.  As he laid there I found myself accepting that this could be the end and I also found that I just wanted to comfort and speak softly to him.  I actually thought about the fact that I didn't want his last moments to be chaotic in any way.  I was shocked and sad, but level headed.

Then just as suddenly as this all began, Parker got up and shook himself off.  And I swear he gave me a look of, "what the heck are you so sad about?"  He then ran back into the house, grabbed a squeaky toy and dropped it next to his dish so he could loudly proclaim how hungry he was.  I stood there in amazement. 

After the initial shock wore off, I remembered that back when he was about 8 years old,  (he is now 14) the vet had told me that Parker has a pretty loud heart murmur and that he could require medication one day if he ever displayed symptoms.  You guessed it.  What I had just experienced was just what I had been warned could happen- some coughing or wheezing and loss of consciousness due to lack of oxygen.  When I called the vet they were shocked to see how long it has been between the diagnosis and the onset of symptoms.  Back when this all started, we had chosen to go with natural supplements for heart health and had since forgotten all about what those daily 'vitamins' for Parker were all about.  Just goes to show, you never do know. 

Believe it or not, I'm actually grateful for the experience.  Like many other aspects of my growing up, loss of pets was never handled with any kind of grace or reasonableness.  At least I know now that I'm pretty sure I won't lose it completely when the real moment arrives.  Don't get me wrong.  I am absolutely in no hurry.  And apparently, neither is Parker!

"Yeah, I'm obnoxious.  So what?!  At my age, anything goes!"

Monday, October 3, 2011

The View From Here

I am back from Palm Springs and cannot say enough how much this trip turned out to be exactly what I had so desperately needed and more.  I haven't been on a real 'two week vacation once you actually get where you're going to' since September of 1995!  And I definitely recommend that you do this if you possibly can in any way.  It doesn't have to cost a bundle.  (VRBO- vacation rentals by owner is a fabulous invention and somebody should have told me about it long before I found it on my own- so definitely check that out.)  Do whatever makes you happy and go wherever you are able, but just do it.  You won't be sorry!

Please forgive me for not having the patience to get any vacation pictures up with this particular blog entry, but this is one of those times when I need to get out what I have to say before it ends up in the ether somewhere and then is only a blog I meant to write and never actually got to.  So let me share one particular experience from the last day of our trip (and then I will be nice and share some photos and highlights later). 

My husband and I were at the Palm Springs art museum.  It is a place with mostly modern stuff and a lot of it is not easy for me to appreciate.  They had a particular exhibit about 60's and 70's geometric abstractions,  that my husband with his logical, actuarial mind was pretty keyed up to see. 

Here is one that I thought was pretty neat.  

Yaacov Agam, One and Another, 1977, serigraph, collection of Palm Springs Art Museum, gift of Martin Lawrence Limited Editions (Martin S. Blinder)
There were a few in a series like this that all had the same colored ovals and circles in the background, but different overlays that allowed you to see the colored areas in different perspectives.

So there we were casually enjoying the art, laughing at some of it- true.  I was really feeling good about being open to some things I wouldn't normally like or even give much thought to.  I was kind of lost in how good this whole trip had been and how it felt right to be winding down and heading home that next day. 

All of a sudden another couple can be heard talking with one of the workers and it breaks into my thoughts.  I hear them asking about one specific area that is closed while it is rearranged for the new season.  The worker asks them when they will be coming back as the exhibit is due to be reopened in 3 days.  I hear the woman say loudly, "probably never!"  She goes on to exclaim how everything they came to see has been closed during their visit and that "I guess we just came at a bad time".  Her husband is clearly annoyed.

While I never say a word to these people, I can't help but compare my own experience to the one that they are having.  Here I am feeling as if I have come to Palm Springs at just the right moment for me and have had nothing but wonderful experiences and I can't imagine how things could be going so wrong for these people.  They walk away in a huff and we see them several other times as we pass through the museum.  They are hurriedly passing by the art and missing any chance to redeem their visit to this museum.  They keep making rude comments and they just don't see anything good at all.

It got me to thinking about some of the insights I have received from the universe recently, including some from this here blogging habit I've gotten into.  There's a post I read about how getting angry doesn't solve anything... found here(Came in handy when I got home to find a small water mess caused by me thinking I could cut corners before we left.  I was a tiny bit ticked at myself for that one.)  Christine's post was about a little more serious attitude adjustment, but I just couldn't help thinking of how different things could have been for my museum couple if they had only stepped back for a moment and taken advantage of whatever good there was in their day.  And then I thought about a post that I wrote myself- here  that ended with me talking about how I really wanted to lighten my work load and how that has already happened.  Yes, that's right.  While I was packing up to leave for this trip, I had gotten a phone call from my main client informing me that her husband had lost his job and that she would have to cut back working with me to only about once a month.

It's as if whatever you put out there you'd better have some purpose in it because your attitude and your intentions mean an awful lot in this life.  And when the timing is right, things WILL happen.  Sometimes faster than you might expect.  Sometimes, slower.  You all know that this past year has been somewhat of a struggle for me as I have dealt with not being able to get to Texas no matter how hard my husband and I have tried.  And yet it feels good to know that even when you are not exactly where you physically believe you should be it often turns out that you might be right where you belong, in any given moment.  And that the next big thing could be right around the corner if only you will open your eyes and see.  Kind of like the art, it all depends on your perspective.
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