Saturday, July 31, 2010

Good Nights

The view at night is pretty cool, too.

No, not of Jerry's foot, but the candle is kinda pretty.

No, not the bottom of my rainbow colored polycarbonate wine glass. (It would be better if it were full.)

Yes, there it is.

Hi, moon. I love your popcorn-cloud covering.

You are gorgeous!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Suburban Off-Road

While exploring the other day around Lake Amistad, looking for the "perfect" swimming spot, we drove past a gorgeous piece of land. Well, truly, it looked just like mile after mile of other land we had already passed but for some reason we stopped here.

Just look at that sky!

After x amount of time, I was able to draw my attention down from the clouds to the ground cover all around me.

Looking down is a good thing while walking around in the desert. There are a LOT of things to poke, pinch, sting, or bite you around here.

The prickly pear cactus are in fruit. The reddish purple fruits are called "tuna" and are edible, as are the thick green pads called nopales. The pads are a vegetable with an asparagus/green bean flavor (so I hear), and are covered with one inch long spikes of torture.

The tuna do not have the long spikes but are covered with little circles of hair-like protrusions called glochids. They don't look very intimidating, but just be warned; the glochids have barbed ends and will stick in your skin like nobodies business. Good luck getting them out. I've had one stuck on one of my toes for a week now.

Also in this beautiful area were patches of these brilliant wild lantana. At least they look like lantana to me. The butterflies sure seem to like them, whatever they are.

Again, please look down when you're walking around the desert. And do wear sneakers instead of flip flops or sandals. And pants instead of shorts.

Wait, who is that woman? I haven't seen her before!?

Oh, yeah. That's me!!! (I don't get much in-front-of-the-camera time. I don't mind. But if you see a strange too blond woman in any photo it may just be me!)

As you can see, I was the only one wearing sneakers. None of us were wearing pants, and poor Phoebe was poking around the desert in her Pull-ups!

To say the least we had not anticipated our impromptu nature hike or else we would have dressed more appropriately.I really hope that's a bone from a deers leg Paige is holding.

We live dangerously, no?

I'll leave you with this photo. Maybe it's not much, but I love this shot. The purple prickly pear fruit, the silver/green leaves of the sage, the purple flowers of the sage, and the pop of yellow on the teeny tiny wildflowers in the corner. This photo is a great example of the hidden beauty and color of the desert.

Compare this last photo with the first. See how you can't see much color when looking way out in the distance in the desert? But look down and you find color after color after amazing color.

Welcome to my desert!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Future Engineers of America

Have you ever not heard any noise and wondered what kind of trouble the kids are getting in to? Laughing, fighting, banging, and crashing = everything is OK. Quiet, silence, peace = something dreadful is taking place.

That happened to me the other day. There was no noise. Not a peep. I had to go investigate. Immediately!

Paige and Josh were outside with Jerry, and I found Phoebe here, sitting on the hard, and somewhat gross vinyl flooring.

"Hey, Phee. What are you doing baby?"

"Oh, you're playing with Lego's again. Very nice."

This girl loves Lego's. Paige and Josh started playing with the giant blocks when they were two years old, but no, not Phoebe. She jumped straight into playing with the small, regular sized Lego's.

I didn't know two year old's had that much manual dexterity.

But apparently Phoebe does.

She built this tower all by herself, at least the top crazy half (Paige is responsible for the symmetrical bottom portion). But she was able to click all of those pieces together and then attach it to Paige's creation to make her own giant tower!

And she doesn't really look like this in person at all, by the way.

After hearing my gushing praise and over-excited wonderment, she proceeded to do a little victory leg dance.

Rock on, girl!

"Yes, baby. I love your tower. I love your dance. And most of all, I love you."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Four Elements

There are four classical elements: Earth, air, water, and fire. If you buy into the psychology of these elements, we each act in accordance with one of the four. Fire people are aggressive, dominating, have fierce tempers, and are passionate. Earth people are stable, unchanging, solid, and reliable. Water people are floaty, change their minds a lot, and are easy to get along with. Air people are lofty, have grand ideas that change on a dime, can be temperamental between calm and insane, but are also accepting of all other people's elemental personalities.

I think I am an Air person. Yes, I love Earth. It's beautiful, green, and props to trees for the oxygen. I love fire, in a fire pit, candle, or bonfire. I crave the water, to swim, drink, and play in.

But between the four elements, my longing, the internal tug, is toward air. That's one of the reasons I love it here so much. We are at 1000 feet of elevation, higher up in the air than in any other place I've ever lived, and such the clouds seem to rest on our heads. (Yes, I know, clouds are technically water but since they are up in the air, directed and shaped by the air, they fall into the air category.)

In the other places we've lived, the trees are so thick that the only place to get a good view of the sky is in the Wal-Mart parking lot. But here where there are very few tall trees, the sky sits above you like a blanket, like a sheet billowed out by a mother's hand, drifting slowly down to cover you in softness.

On an overcast day, the clouds feel like a gray trap, holding you down, holding you in. Comforting in their tight embrace.

But on a sunny day, the endless puffy white clouds scoot across the sky in an endless parade of shapes and shades.

Oh, how I wish I could paint clouds!

So, if you had to choose which thing to sit and look at, hours on end, which would you choose?

1. The ocean, waves rolling, tides turning, gulls calling
2. Fire dancing and twisting in a nonstop flamenco party
3. Clouds rolling through the sky, blown by the wind, across deep blue skies or a purple sunset
4. Mountain views with rivers snaking through valleys and trees in full color.

What a delicious choice!

Monday, July 26, 2010

In a Cage

In the temporary lodging facilities, pet-friendly, they are nice enough to provide a giant crate, two silver dog bowls, and outside a poop bag dispenser so you can "curb your dog".

What the heck does that mean, to "curb"" ones dog? What does the curb have to do with picking up doggie doo doo other than to please pick the doody up off of the curb so I don't have to step in it?

Belly spent exactly six seconds in the crate when we first checked in. I think it reminded her of her too-small crate she used to hide in when she was a young spring puppy.

But then the babies started fighting, I started yelling, and that was the end of Belly in the crate.
(The dog cannot handle conflict. One raised voice and POOF! she's gone, hiding in a corner somewhere shaking and cowering in fear. Poor thing is alone a LOT.)

The kids thought it would make an extra cool fort. At one point they piled up all of their pillows and lovey blankets, aka "Pokies", in the crate, aka Fort.

And then I noticed that even though the bottom of the crate looked clean, there was some dried up mystery goo on the lower bars of the "Fort".

That was the last time they went in that cage.

Phoebe was quite upset.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

About Time

Outside of our temporary lodging facility #5, there is this magnificent tree. You won't find pine trees in our desert, no sirree. Maybe a few other evergreens but no towering, pollen inducing pine trees. Hallelujah!

But there are oak trees. Mostly scrub oaks, but on base there are these gorgeous old growth oak trees they planted umpteen years ago. With their low limbs and amble shade, these are some of the only trees I still like.

I grew up climbing the trees outside our home in Upstate New York. My children have not had the opportunity to learn to climb trees yet. Our trees in Houston were mostly, eww, lob lolly pines. Not so great for climbing. Great for gauging out a roof during a hurricane but not for climbing.

But with enough encouragement and a good shove on the rump, the kids made it up into the tree.

First Josh,

...then Paige, (Yes, in a dress. My girl only wears dresses. She has the close inner thigh thing like me, so like me, shorts are usually incredibly uncomfortable.)...

...and finally Phoebe made it into the tree after screaming and crying for Jerry to put her up there too. (Phoebe has ZERO fear. Seriously.)

There they are! Standing in a tree!

Aren't they cute? All climbing a tree?

OK. They didn't climb the dang tree. Jerry pushed them into it while they held on with tentative little fingers. And then they stood in the tree while I ran in circles taking pictures.

You gotta start somewhere!

But after all of that hard climbing and picture snapping, look at the view you get when you turn around from the tree.

You see that line out there, past the trees as far as you can see? That my tree-trapped friends is the horizon. It's the point where you can't see any farther because the Earth turns down away from you ever so imperceptibly.

Look at it. Isn't it gorgeous?

Did I mention the clouds around here?

I'll save that for another day. Until then I'll keep collecting gorgeous pictures for you.

You're welcome!

Friday, July 23, 2010

One of Many

One of the best things I love about living on this particular Air Force base is this dirt road. Maybe you're wondering what's so wonderful about this dirt road over other dirt roads.

I'll tell you. I'll show you.
This dirt road is one section of the bike route that serpentines around base. Most of the route is two lane wide paved concrete. It is right at three miles long and meanders past the pool, tennis courts, housing, football field and track, and one open field after another. Despite being a bit hard on the knees, this path is what makes me happy on base. I love to run and I can do that here.

Every morning minus one, I have dragged my sleepy self out of bed and directly into running clothes. The kids always wake up before me so it's no struggle to get them dressed and ready to go. Phoebe rides in the jogging stroller while Paige and Josh ride their bikes. Three sets of tennis shoes and one bottle of water later and we're out the door waking our bodies and minds with the beauty that is abundant here.

The dirt road is fun because it has nothing to see but nature for about 3/4 of a mile. It's baby jackrabbit season around here and dang it if I can't catch one on camera, but they are ca-yute!

We also may see a road runner, snake, various birds, deer, and many different types of plants and flowers. You have to watch what you pick though because some of the plants may bite back!

Paige and I are partial to the Indian Blanket wildflower. They grow shorter but just as vibrant here in the desert.

Power lines are ugly aren't they? Oh, well. When you're running care free on the road you don't even notice they're there.

It's obviously been very wet around here. When Hurricane whatever-it-was-named dumped torrential rain on the area, the greenery popped up like a jack-in-the-box. We were shocked on the drive down how green everything is. Normally in the middle of a hot, hot summer most things are baked brown under the hot, hot sun.

I love the brown though. What most people see as drab and bland, I see as a neutral backdrop to the other beauty that is usually overshadowed by all of that green.

Have you ever seen a field of purple sage in bloom? When the grass is brown the silver leaves of the sage shimmer like, well, silver while the purple blooms turn the landscape into a crayon farm. When it's too green it's hard to see those details.

These wild sunflowers love the rain. There are so many of these plants growing now that you can't see the hundreds and hundreds of prickly pear cactus that are hiding in their stems.

I found this redheaded baby specimen on a recent walk down the path. She was adorable and was proudly carrying her favorite baby doll, "Baby".

Why, here's another redhead! This one is older, I can tell, because she's taller and has been around long enough to start blooming.

This must be the male version of the redhead baby specimen. I can tell because he's always messing with his stuff. Boys.

Oh, and the male redhead leaves tracks like this. Is there a spider man somewhere around here?

I said spider, not grasshopper. But "Hi", anyway. Whatchoo up to on a great summer morning?