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Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Perfectly Brilliant Observation, If I say so myself....

Sometimes I come across something I cannot wait to share.  I was listening to a talk given by Dr. Ranata Forste to women about sustaining each other in righteous choices.  All I could think of was what a concept!!  Imagine this, I make a life decision and other women would view my choice and say...."brilliant!!", and I would react this way....."thank you, thank you very much."

Think about that....women supporting each other?  I find pockets of support among women in my life and I cherish it.  Women who don't care about my politics, my lifestyle, my religion...they just care that I am a friend.

Dr. Forste's ideas and observations were so good, so crystal clear I have to share...  

God (and please don't get hung up on the God thing, substitute whatever works for you) wants us all to return to him, but not necessarily in a straight line.  In other words being different is good, we are not the same and no one expects us to be all the same.

Selfishness will begin to destroy sharing which destroys unity.  Bring your talents, your gifts, your individuality so that we can be one.

Dr. Forste went on to recount a message she gleaned from commercials during an evening spent watching TV.....she found that...
Our skin isn't smooth enough
Our hair isn't shiny enough
and a message loud and clear is we are not thin enough 

Our floors aren't clean enough
our clothes aren't white enough and neither are our teeth
And our children aren't quite happy enough

The message is women need help.

Now contrast that to what men need according to an evening spent watching TV:

A big truck
lots of light beer
a big screen TV for watching sports
and a call to their doctor if they think their love life needs improving

Do you see a problem here?
The message men receive is, have a good time, Spend your hard earned money on leisure, fast cars, watching sports and drinking beer.

Advertising motivates women to buy out of guilt, or a need to achieve some socially constructed idea of perfection.  Men on the other hand are encouraged to buy things for pleasure.

Dr. Forste then read a rather famous Dave Barry column from 1998 

If you're a man, at some point a woman will ask you how she looks.
''How do I look?'' she'll ask.
You must be careful how you answer this question. The best technique is to form an honest yet sensitive opinion, then collapse on the floor with some kind of fatal seizure. Trust me, this is the easiest way out. Because you will never come up with the right answer.
The problem is that women generally do not think of their looks in the same way that men do. Most men form an opinion of how they look in seventh grade, and they stick to it for the rest of their lives. Some men form the opinion that they are irresistible stud muffins, and they do not change this opinion even when their faces sag and their noses bloat to the size of eggplants and their eyebrows grow together to form what appears to be a giant forehead-dwelling tropical caterpillar.
Most men, I believe, think of themselves as average-looking. Men will think this even if their faces cause heart failure in cattle at a range of 300 yards. Being average does not bother them; average is fine, for men. This is why men never ask anybody how they look. Their primary form of beauty care is to shave themselves, which is essentially the same form of beauty care that they give to their lawns.
If, at the end of his four-minute daily beauty regimen, a man has managed to wipe most of the shaving cream out of his hair and is not bleeding too badly, he feels that he has done all he can, so he stops thinking about his appearance and devotes his mind to more critical issues, such as the Super Bowl.
Women do not look at themselves this way. If I had to express, in three words, what I believe most women think about their appearance, those words would be: ''not good enough.'' No matter how attractive a woman may appear to be to others, when she looks at herself in the mirror, she thinks: woof.
She thinks that at any moment a municipal animal-control officer is going to throw a net over her and haul her off to the shelter.
Why do women have such low self-esteem? There are many complex psychological and societal reasons, by which I mean Barbie. Girls grow up playing with a doll proportioned such that, if it were a human, it would be seven feet tall and weigh 81 pounds, of which 53 pounds would be bosoms.
This is a difficult appearance standard to live up to, especially when you contrast it with the standard set for little boys by their dolls ... excuse me, by their action figures. Most of the action figures that my son played with when he was little were hideous-looking. For example, he was very fond of an action figure (part of the He-Man series) called ''Buzz-Off,'' who was part human, part flying insect. Buzz-Off was not a looker. But he was extremely self-confident. You could not imagine Buzz-Off saying to the other action figures: ``Do you think these wings make my hips look big?''
But women grow up thinking they need to look like Barbie, which for most women is impossible, although there is a multibillion-dollar beauty industry devoted to convincing women that they must try. I once saw an Oprah show wherein supermodel Cindy Crawford dispensed makeup tips to the studio audience. Cindy had all these middle-aged women applying beauty products to their faces; she stressed how important it was to apply them in a certain way, using the tips of their fingers. All the woman dutifully did this, even though it was obvious to any sane observer that, no matter how carefully they applied these products, they would never look remotely like Cindy Crawford, who is some kind of genetic mutation.
I'm not saying that men are superior. I'm just saying that you're not going to get a group of middle-aged men to sit in a room and apply cosmetics to themselves under the instruction of Brad Pitt, in hopes of looking more like him. Men would realize that this task was pointless and demeaning. They would find some way to bolster their self-esteem that did not require looking like Brad Pitt. They would say to Brad: ``Oh YEAH? Well what do you know about LAWN CARE, pretty boy?''
Of course, many women will argue that the reason they become obsessed with trying to look like Cindy Crawford is that men, being as shallow as a drop of spit, WANT women to look that way. To which I have two responses:
1. Hey, just because WE'RE idiots, that doesn't mean YOU have to be; and
2. Men don't even notice 97 percent of the beauty efforts you make anyway. Take fingernails. The average woman spends 5,000 hours per year worrying about her fingernails; I have never once, in more than 40 years of listening to men talk about women, heard a man say, ''She has a nice set of fingernails!'' Many men would not notice if a woman had upward of four hands.
Anyway, to get back to my original point: If you're a man, and a woman asks you how she looks, you're in big trouble. Obviously, you can't say she looks bad. But you also can't say that she looks great, because she'll think you're lying, because she has spent countless hours, with the help of the multibillion-dollar beauty industry, obsessing about the differences between herself and Cindy Crawford. Also, she suspects that you're not qualified to judge anybody's appearance. This is because you have shaving cream in your hair. (Dave Barry - Beauty and the Beast 1998)

Between Dr. Forste and Dave Barry I saw yet again that women (and of course, me) are simply too hard on themselves.  We have heard this message one million times, but we keep piling it on.  We keep wondering why we aren't thin, or wrinkle free....why aren't we sunning on the beach or walking the red carpet?  When will we understand that we are comparing ourselves to something that does not even exist.  I once had a very close friendship (we just played tennis) with a male celebrity who had an onscreen persona of a family man and really good guy.  Actually he was a lecherous degenerate who was routinely unfaithful to his wife.   I know that what we are sold and told is not real and yet I continue to fall for it.

Here is what I hear in my head, "Why aren't I perfect?  Why didn't I accomplish x,y and z today?"  My planner said I could, my list screamed at me - daring me to fail. And then laughing when I came up short.  Came up short?  Do you hear that?  

Why aren't I perfect?  Because I was never supposed to be perfect. 

Women are NOT supposed to be perfect.  Men have figured that out about themselves.  Perfection to them comes in the form of a wave, a steak or a cigar.

What if we could lighten up as women, if we could give each other a break, then maybe we could give ourselves a break.  
What if we could see, I mean really see that we are all different, with different qualities, gifts and talents....because some of us can sing, or write or cook.  But then some of us are not very good leaders, or we are as organized as a food fight....alone we are far from perfect, but together, together we can be perfect. 

I lean on my friends who can do things I cannot do.  I applaud their choices, but remember the mommy wars?  If you stayed home with your children it was because you couldn't do anything else, and if you worked you were selfish.....if you chose natural child birth you received a battlefield promotion, but if you gave formula to your baby then someone needed to call child protective services.  I hope we have put those things to rest, because none of it really mattered.  I nursed all of my children with an implied contract with nature that they would be perfect, but they aren't.  And my friends who worked had children who grew up to be perfectly fine people. And these same women are now enjoying pensions and retirement.  We all did the best we could with the tools we had, we didn't need to compare and compete.  It's true we are not perfect individually, but together we can be perfect.  

Which leads me to my next thought which is, all of us can fly if we will just get out of our own way.  I want to challenge you to do something you never thought you could do.  Stretch and reach and grow and become a person you never thought you could be.  Become the person God sees.....don't settle for your own vision.

What do you dream about?  That you could be a writer?  An actress?  An entrepreneur?  Do you want an orchard or a beehive?  Do you want to surf or be a motivational speaker? Maybe you want to teach yoga or math.....so,  set aside 1 hour a week to pursue your dream.  Then watch that dream grow, it might even morph into something better! 

Set aside 1 Hour a week to pursue your dream.  This is an invitation to change your life.

Let's do it!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mari's Book Signing!!!





Last night I had the honor of hosting a book signing for Mari Rose.  We met in Amy Ayoub's amazing speech class -www.thezenspeaker.com - and when Mari said her book was coming out the beginning of September I had to have a party!!  The friends, family and fellow alumni of Amy's class made for a very interesting and diverse group.  With few exceptions we hadn't met before last night, but the bond we experienced was undeniable. That bond gave us trust to explore feelings and thoughts, which helped us learn a great deal.
 The title of Mari's book is Change Your Layers, Change Your Life (for sale on Amazon)

I am forever fascinated about how people think, and Mari offers a challenge to reach inside of ourselves and face the obstacles that keep us from peace and happiness.  And then she suggests tools to help us get there!!


I am also fascinated by the fact so many of our beliefs are strikingly similar.  I believe so strongly in light, energy and intuition, and those were just some of the things Mari talked about.  I can add her thoughts to the beliefs I already have to bring new nuances to my thinking.  I had lots of things to ponder which always makes me happy!!


A question I have is, "Why do we dismiss anothers thoughts and beliefs, when we can so easily learn from them?" 

How foolish to lose out on an opportunity to learn and get to know people simply because their beliefs are different.  I listened to everything she said last night and incorporated a lot into what I already believe.  What I learned didn't diminish my testimony of Jesus Christ.  I found such joy in listening to her as she told of her journey, study and work.  She is a gentle soul, with a comforting voice that exuded peace.  The acceptance we felt for each other was reflected in the laughter and hugs throughout the entire night.  You cannot counterfeit the peace we experienced last night.

Washington take a lesson.....

Monday, September 8, 2014

I am a football fan, I come by it naturally being from Texas - my memories of Thanksgiving dinner were scheduled around the Texas - Texas A&M game.  (They always played on Thanksgiving day).  There was my grandmother's beautifully set table, crystal, linens, and of course her silver, and the pressure to make sure all the food came out at half time.  In Texas your team is chosen for you at birth, you are either a Longhorn, an Aggie, a Bear, a Mustang, a Cougar, or a Red Raider.  You are never a sooner or a razorback.....ever.   I have been a Longhorn my whole life.

When I had children I taught them about football the same way it had been taught to me.  I tried to teach them humility in winning and respect in losing, because that is what life is.  When you win you enjoy the heck out of it, but always remember someone on the other side has worked every bit as hard....lost.  And when you lose you give it up for the victors, go back to the drawing board and live another day.   Note to self, avoid social media on big game days, and maybe even church.  Some people think it is funny to mock an opponent, but I know that a football game is just like life, we are all one injury away from disaster....never mock.  And if you do, be prepared for attrition.

My husband played football in high school, so he was a fan...not quite as rabid as me ( although he is rabid about cooking ) One Saturday I realized we had different priorities when he was watching Julia Childs and I was watching my beloved Longhorns.  My son said when we were young granddaddy  gave me a football and dad got an easy bake oven.

My daughter went to USC just as Pete Carroll took over as head coach.  She worked in the football office and was involved in the equipment room and recruiting.  Once my high school son was struggling through the Crucible in English class and I overheard him ask Ashleigh, "Do you know the most boring play?" She responded immediately, "Right up the middle?"   Football....


And then there is what I like to call, "Order of YAC".  Initials for yards after catch.  It's not just catching the ball, and that's hard enough, it's what you do after the catch is made.  How far can you run? Are you satisfied with just catching the ball or are you prepared to run like you are on fire with that ball?

I love the concept of YAC it reminds me to magnify every opportunity I get.  You never know where even the smallest opportunities will lead or who you will meet.  Life is just that interesting.......

So...

What will you do after you catch the ball?

I am a football fan, I come by it naturally being from Texas - my memories of Thanksgiving dinner were scheduled around the Texas - Texas A&M game.  (They always played on Thanksgiving day).  There was my grandmother's beautifully set table, crystal, linens, and of course her silver, and the pressure to make sure all the food came out at half time.  In Texas your team is chosen for you at birth, you are either a Longhorn, an Aggie, a Bear, a Mustang, a Cougar, or a Red Raider.  You are never a sooner or a razorback.....ever.   I have been a Longhorn my whole life.

When I had children I taught them about football the same way it had been taught to me.  I tried to teach them humility in winning and respect in losing, because that is what life is.  When you win you enjoy the heck out of it, but always remember someone on the other side has worked every bit as hard....lost.  And when you lose you give it up for the victors, go back to the drawing board and live another day.   Note to self, avoid social media on big game days, and maybe even church.  Some people think it is funny to mock an opponent, but I know that a football game is just like life, we are all one injury away from disaster....never mock.  And if you do, be prepared for attrition.

My husband played football in high school, so he was a fan...not quite as rabid as me ( although he is rabid about cooking ) One Saturday I realized we had different priorities when he was watching Julia Childs and I was watching my beloved Longhorns.  My son said when we were young granddaddy  gave me a football and dad got an easy bake oven.

My daughter went to USC just as Pete Carroll took over as head coach.  She worked in the football office and was involved in the equipment room and recruiting.  Once my high school son was struggling through the Crucible in English class and I overheard him ask Ashleigh, "Do you know the most boring play?" She responded immediately, "Right up the middle?"   Football....


And then there is what I like to call, "Order of YAC".  Initials for yards after catch.  It's not just catching the ball, and that's hard enough, it's what you do after the catch is made.  How far can you run? Are you satisfied with just catching the ball or are you prepared to run like you are on fire with that ball?

I love the concept of YAC it reminds me to magnify every opportunity I get.  You never know where even the smallest opportunities will lead or who you will meet.  Life is just that interesting.......

So...

What will you do after you catch the ball?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Trade in the Beta Version for a 2.0!!

I admit it, I have had some trepidation about turning 60.
The thought has been like an unpleasant medical procedure.  Like those tests we have to have, say a colonoscopy.  We don't want to do it, but we do.  Then after all the details are accounted for you are required to sign a paper that no one is responsible if something goes horribly wrong.
(See Joan Rivers on this)
What?
No flies on the medical community but they are on to something.  What a great contract for life.  Sign here, no option for litigation because no one is responsible if something goes horribly wrong.
Life...what could go wrong? 


How about.....anything?
Our lives can turn on a dime.  Spend just a little time reading blogs and you will find folks who have their lives turned upside down and inside out.  Many of their blogs come from a place within that the writers didn't even know they had.  They start writing to make sense of it all, only to discover lots of other people rowing the same boat.   Through their writing they are looking for a way to make their lives better.  Libraries and book stores are filled with self help books, we are inundated with life coaches and daily affirmations. We are just trying to improve our beta versions.
Definition of: Beta Version
A pre-release of software that is given out to a large group of users to try under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through alpha testing inhouse and are generally fairly close in look, feel and function to the final product; however, design changes often occur as a result.

Beta testing is imperative when writing software because developers are too close to their products, and fresh eyes are essential. In addition, for Windows developers especially, it is impossible to duplicate the myriad configurations of PC hardware/software that exist, and beta versions test for potential conflicts as much as usability. In more closed environments such as the Mac and mobile phone platforms, beta testing is less about coexistence with other software and more about functionality and ease of use, the latter a long-standing joke in this industry 

Don't read the definition like a scientist would, read like it is your life.  

The most successful of us have started walking on a path, stopped, and then assessed the path.  Then they turn their findings over to fresh eyes who suggest changes.  The changes are implemented and a 2.0 model of themselves is created.  Failure is never considered, problems  are nothing more than a challenge to make their lives better. Once changes are  assessed a 2.0 version is made.

Definition of 2.0?  

After reading approximately 10 definitions of 2.0, I decided none worked.  So my definition goes like this,  "We used the Beta version to discover problems with the software.  We expected to find problems and we were helped by a community of people who used it and critiqued it.  Those problems were fixed and we came out with 2.0...."

Sheldon would shudder at my definition.

I just read an article on Jerry Jones written by Don Van Natta Jr. for ESPN the magazine.  It was brilliantly written and included one of Jones favorite life lessons.  It came from his football coach at the University of Arkansas, Frank Broyles.  He said Broyles always raised his four fingers on the football field as a reminder for his players to try to preserve their energy for the games most critical time--the fourth quarter.  

This is my fourth quarter.  No drama it just is.

From the time I turned 59 I wanted to make big changes in my life to cushion the shock of turning 60.  But life had other plans.  I tore the meniscus in my knee and found myself unable to walk for a few months and I am only now coming to what may or may not be a total recovery.  The universe tapped me on the shoulder reminding me I am not in charge.  

My beta version was all about control.  My 2.0 version will have that button removed and a dimmer switch installed for those times control becomes an issue.

My beta version included anxiety, a sense of humor, anger, regret, a sense of style, a green thumb, a tendency to focus on problems rather than solutions, no appetite control, honesty, loyalty, a good teacher and speaker, tendency to settle for good when great is is attainable.

Sound familiar?  I don't want to throw out all the aspects of my beta version, just improve them.  

I understand that a 2.0 version is only a second upgrade, when in fact I am closer to WD40 or Formula 409.  But not WD39 or Formula 408

I took artistic license, I can do that it's my birthday.





Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Last Five Pounds..





I just read an article about losing that pesky last 5 pounds.  They included all kinds of great tips on how to finally cross the finish line.  I did what I always do when faced with these articles, got depressed.  And then it hit me!  I have been doing this all wrong, I have been trying to lose the first 5 pounds.  How crazy!!

I am convinced I must change my strategy to "start" with the last 5 pounds.

Because I am a professional dieter...I know we are supposed to lose weight in increments.  We shouldn't think about the whole number, but set manageable goals.

So isn't this a brilliant goal?  Starting with the last 5 pounds, which seems to be such a burden and the hardest.

I know, right?

I am totally on to something, and I can form a kind of a solidarity with all my successful dieter friends.  I no longer have to simply chat about diets with my heavier friends.  I can commiserate with my thin friends about the burden of trying to lose the last 5 pounds.  The influence of being a part of the successful loser groups as opposed to the struggling loser groups is mentally
fulfilling.  I usually start a diet thinking I won't win.  This way I begin as a winner...I am only 5 pounds away from my goal!!  I love it!!

 



Evidently you can lose weight in pounds or kg's
how much is a kg?


It's 2 weeks until my birthday and as a gift to me I am going to lose those last 5 pesky, pounds.



Yeah Me!!!



 Then I will lose the last 10 pounds.....





 Then the last 15 pounds!!

I can't find one for the last 20, or 30, or 40.....I will just wing it from there.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Snickerdoodles could be the new currency!!

It is as simple as this, Snickerdoodles are medicinal, and they could be the new currency.

No need to argue, it's true.  I have science on my side....incredible soft, moist, Cinnamon encrusted Snickerdoodles are good for the soul.

I am very concerned about the lack of peace in the world today so I am going to do something I never do, share my sure fire, always successful recipe for Snickerdoodles.  I may get the Nobel Prize for Peace because of these cookies.  I will put a box or 2 in John Kerry's briefcase for future negotiations.

Need a cookie for a bake sale?  Angry neighbor?  Depressed child?  Last minute dessert that will bring friends to their knees?  Only one word...

Snickerdoodles





Go ahead say the name without smiling, impossible.  And if you can say the name without smiling I rescind permission for you making this cookie.  This cookie is a powerful weapon, a clever tool....I can only say it in hushed tones..... the vaunted Snickerdoodle.

My son would give up every secret he has for a snickerdoodle....I am not particularly interested in his secrets, but maybe you are trying to crack the code of someone near and dear, and you do need secrets revealed.  One word.....

Snickerdoodles

This recipe can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled...Just follow Aunt Donna's instructions and you will have a great cookie.  The ingredients to other Snickerdoodles may be similar, but technique is the key...so gather round, listen up and enjoy!

Aunt Donna's Snickerdoodles
2 3/4 Cups of Flour
2 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 Cup of Butter  (room temperature)
1 1/2 Cups of Sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)

2 Tablespoons of Sugar
2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon

I use the kitchen aid to cream the sugar, butter and eggs
then add cream of tartar and baking soda
and slowly add the flour
I use a cookie scoop for uniformity.  Take the dough from your scoop, roll it into a ball with your hands and then roll it in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  They will spread so only put 12 on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 8 minutes...if they aren't done enough for you cook one more minute, however, they must come out of the oven looking a bit under cooked.  If you cook them too long they will be hard and you will not be happy.  Snickerdoodles are best when they are soft.  Trust me.


The smell of Snickerdoodles cooking is incredible.....I promise.

Go forward grasshopper.....you have one of the great treasures of the world...a fabulous Snickerdoodle recipe just in time for fall!

Friday, August 15, 2014

"You is kind, You is Smart, You is important"

Things I am good at this week........piling up papers, procrastinating, walking past unfinished projects, sitting on the couch watching TV, basically accomplishing nothing.

Things I am not good at this week.....having patience while my husband finds the right rim for my daughters jeep, creating a solution to an enormous Planning Commission problem that was complicated by a personal problem with a colleague, waiting for the dishwasher to be repaired, getting bids out, doing my knee exercises and the website for my business went down.

I have created chaos for myself.

I hate it, it is frustrating and when I get frustrated chaos wins.

But the story has a happy ending.  As I was lying in bed this morning thinking of all the things I hadn't done well this week (who needs Hallmark when you have my brain like mine?)  I started to pray.....I started to pray to be better, to do better....when I heard this..

"You is kind, You is smart, You is important"

Thank you Aibileen, thank you Kathryn Stockett for marking my soul with that line, and thank you God for putting it in my head this morning.

We all have stretches of chaos. I had a lot to do that wasn't fun or particularly easy, it is easy to get sucked in by it all.  

And then Robin Williams died.

I spent time this week watching him on old Mork and Mindy shows and bits from Johnny Carson.  I remember how he made me laugh when I needed to laugh, and how incredible I thought his mind was......how I never knew which way we were going because I knew he didn't either!  And it was fun.....just plain ole fun.  I listened to people who had loved working with him, and to people who decided they knew why he died.  None of that mattered, because their experience wasn't mine.  I never met him, I never even saw him perform in person....but for me he was Mork, and he was Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting, he was the Genie in Aladdin, he was Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vietnam.....and he was a true favorite.

As I processed this loss I realized I get to grieve and I didn't have to be related to him Or even personally know him to feel a real loss.

He made us all laugh and we will miss that a lot.

So the swirling chaos I found myself in was partly finding solutions for a problem, dealing with people, doing things I don't like to do and being sad.

I am so grateful those words came to me this morning.....

"You is kind, You is smart, You is important"

I hope you all remember that too,  it can be said about all of us.





Sunday, August 3, 2014

Lonesome dove at the OK4U Corral and pictures from Monument Valley



Donna is still out of the blog-house today.
Emboldened by not having been caught at what he’s doing, Mark (the photographer friend) guest-writes once again from Las Vegas.

"So many things in life can be understood when compared with what you see in nature. This morning for example, I was headed up the lane from the bunkhouse barnyard. As I approached the gate, I saw a female Mojave mourning dove balanced on the top of the fence, rocking back and forth from her left foot to her right, and looking flustered, but she didn’t fly away as I would have expected. And on the ground a few feet further was her mate, limping along with his two wings half-folded at mismatched angles like he had just hit a windshield with his noggin. He turned from me and made a pathetic effort of hobbling away like Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein. ‘Walk this way . . .’

Being the outdoorsy guy I am, I had already recognized the fake wounded bird tactic employed to draw predators away from their young. So I quickly looked along a line from his tail back towards the place he had just left. In a minute, I saw junior, trying to look invisible in the rocks. He was old enough to fly off from the nest, but not yet ready to make it on his own.

Kind of like a teenager, right? Long on impulse and short on judgment, and trying to act chill like the grownups. And there was mom, fretting and worrying and all upset, hovering around her baby who was trying to leave the nest and head off for college while mom was not ready to cope with the syndrome. And dad of course, gamely trying to take on the big bad human – not quite sure how – but faking it the best way he could. Hey. When you’re a dove, you just come to the game with whatever ya got.

I checked back at the end of the day. Junior was now chillin’ in the tree (“Coo-oool . . . see? I can do this!”). Mom and dad were gone; probably went out for supper. The nest was empty.

Here are some images from a spring trip to Monument Valley in the Navajo nation. I was there with a couple close friends for a few days of camping and photography. If there ever was an iconic symbol of the American west, this has to be the most recognizable. Uncounted movies of the John Wayne and Henry Fonda era of Western filmmaking have included images of this place, seen by countless millions of people around the world.
This sunrise event was one of those surreal experiences that couldn't have been planned. I was camped just off the valley road that is used by every tourist and every resident Navajo who goes into the back country. I mean just about 10 feet off the roadway where the asphalt ends. I woke up in the morning before the sun rose and from my bedroll I saw color in the sky. Not having to dress (I slept in yesterday's clothes), I simply rolled over, grabbed my trusty camera and tripod, rose and walked less than fifty paces to the edge of an overlook. I put the rig together and focused, checked a test shot to set a light level, and in that moment, the sun broke the horizon. For the next 5 minutes, I steadily made a dozen more exposures and then stood with a friend while we witnessed this glorious event, feeling reverence for the God who created it.
Above - I'm always impressed when I stand in the footsteps of the unknown persons who create gorgeous images like this, hundreds - maybe a thousand - years before me. Is he there in spirit checking to see if his design endures while I make the image with my 21st century magic lantern?
 A free spirit if there ever was one; a Navajo pony pauses on a hill.
Above - Sunset on the mittens at Monument valley. Below - an image that captures the isolation and delicate balance of nature. Like so many things in life, erosion is proceeding ever so subtly right before our eyes. And one day - without warning - an unexpected disastrous event will lay this spire on its side in a few brief seconds. The dust will settle, disturbed plants will recover and eventually a rain storm will soften the harsh rock edges until at last the sandstone blocks once again become a soft dune in the desert.


Your guest writer, Mark Andrews, is an Emmy-award winning landscape photographer based in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the middle of the Mojave desert. His recent works can be found here. Rebuttals, corrections and hastily formed opinions may be directed to: Mailroom at the OK4U Corral

Scoundrel of the western desert.