Decorative Art A Pretty Picture

  When J.B. said he had a painting he wanted to give me, I wasn’t sure where this was all headed. I didn’t need another painting but told him to bring it over, and, if I didn’t want it, I would store it for him in my garage. The painting, it turns out, is of a desert landscape. It is the art sold in Hobby Lobby, and Wal Mart, and is accepted as ” art ” by many, because it looks like something. In fact, wanting ” art ‘ to look like something is what most people seem to think ” art ” is. This painting was done by Lee Reynolds, which turns out to be a 1960’s painting factory where house artists cranked out  paintings for retail stores to be hung in mom and dad’s living rooms all across America. It was probably some little Chinese woman who knocked this out, in a couple of hours, while John Glenn was stepping on the moon and hitting his golf ball. Scott has traveled in Arizona and guesses their might be a river just like this somewhere in that state, with saquaros guarding the river, just like this painting shows it.   Till further notice, this atypical piece of art, is going to hang with all the other non-realistic art Scott loves. I like the desert, like water, and like saquaros. Why wouldn’t I like looking at them every morning, as sunlight comes creeping through window blinds. and the trumpet from a nearby military base plays reveille and raises the colors? I’m wondering if the little Chinese lady, who did this “original”, ever made it to the desert herself?

Pat’s Deer April Snow, Colorado Springs, Colorado

  Pat works from home with his computer, a big part of Scotttreks, behind the scenes, supporting Scott. Outside his office window, on a snowy day, his wife takes photos of deer in the front yard of their home on the west side of Colorado Springs, in the mountains. With snow falling, and trees laden with white, this deer family is scavenging. The snow has covered most of their food supply and is starting to give them white fur, sticking in patches on their noses and necks, making them look like old men and women. These deer have visited before and take treats from people. We know people shouldn’t feed deer,or any wild animal, but they are gorgeous, and the weather today is so inhospitable. Deer are such large animals it is hard to see how they find enough food to support themselves when it is buried under snow drifts.  Alan has his deer in Texas, Charlie and Sharon have their deer in Albuquerque. Pat and Amber have their deer in Colorado Springs. Scott sees his deer, occasionally, in the Albuquerque foothills, Open Space, and the adjoining Cibola National Forest. For these deer, this day is just business as usual. We are graced by their presence, It is good for me to know that there are living things on the planet that live by nature’s rules, not human rules. When you are built for snow, it isn’t the tragedy, I think it might be.

Embudo Canyon Hike Albuquerque's East Side

    Our country is now on  ” lock down. ” I’ve never been through a government ordered lock down where businesses are shut down, movement is restricted, banks are closed except for drive up windows or internet banking, and the real economy grinds to a halt as the stock market tries to reach it’s old- new heights. One of the few things we are still permitted to do, before we are fined for being on the road, if we don’t have our papers in order, is hike in the Embudo Canyon in the Sandia Mountains. The gate has still opened at seven in the morning and people are still coming to meet nature, in person, in their back yard. People are cautious with the new  ” social distancing ” orders from our state capitol building. On the trail, some hikers wear masks, and back ten feet away from us as we pass them on the same trail we have been hiking for the last several years. Some people you pass don’t even answer you when you greet them with a cheerful ” Good Morning. ” When you are not a billionaire, you can’t escape this new reality as easily,you can’t take a private jet to your private bunker in New Zealand or Australia,you can’t play the stock market casino with someone else’s money.  It’s a great morning for a hike and Albuquerque, from up here, looks like it always does, from a distance. It makes me wonder about the sanity of a “lock down.” For most of us, at ground level, the health of the economy is always life, or death. Is saving 2% of a population worth crippling the other 98%? What would Spock say?

Rainbow in my Front Yard A really nice one this time

    The news we have these days is apocalyptic. Across the world, an unseen virus, emanating out of China, is obsessing people and governments. Daily, we are shown body bags and stressed hospitals, see death totals that are not yet of the Black Plague category. Total economies are shut down and we are told our jobs and businesses are not essential, but you can still buy pot and alcohol. Some people, driving the same streets they have driven for decades, are fined for being on the road and neighbors are told to call a hot line to tell the government who is not following orders. Banks are closed and you have to make an appointment for most services, and you are questioned if you want to take your money out of the bank. Congress magically finds 2 trillion plus dollars when we have been arguing about healthcare for decades, and bails their crony’s out, again. Walking, quite by chance, out my front door, I am greeted by a rainbow masterpiece. This double rainbow, just fading, has the right proportions, right colors, and a gorgeous, rich lustre.  It is quite breathtaking, radiant, and rejuvenating. Troubled times will pass and then talking heads will analyse and tell us what they want us to believe has just happened, politicians will claim they fixed the problems they created, and life, will go on. In a year, most of this will be forgotten, but the precedents created will live with us, forever. 

Insects in a Box from Panama City, Panama, Old Town

    Part of travelling is bringing back stuff. There are memories and words and photos on all trips, but there are also objects that get packed in your suitcase and brought back home.  Maybe it is a piece of art from Uruguay? Maybe it is a recipe? Maybe it is a T shirt or a special cap? Maybe it is a new watch or a pack of seeds to try something new in your garden?  This little insect box, from a market place in Panama, hangs in a hallway at home. Insects, as most of us know, can be good – like ladybugs, or bad – like mosquitos. Most often, we feel insects before we see them. Casual research suggests there might be as many as five million species on the planet with only a million species identified and described. There is still plenty for  ” bug lovers ” to do on our planet. My insects on the wall are the best kind. They don’t wake me up, bite me, or talk trash. They remind me of great engineering designs and adaptability. We’re not in this world alone, even if we think we are. If I were to take a trip into the jungles of Panama, I’d meet all of these guys on a first name basis. Somehow, I like them on a wall, in a box, the best.

Deer in Embudo Canyon Albuquerque Foothills

    As soon as we say we haven’t seen any deer, we spot some. This family unit nips leaves off branches, ears cocked, knowing we were here long before we spotted them. Animals, these days, have issues caused by us humans encroaching on their territories. There are a whole lot more of us these days than them. I say a little prayer for them this morning as the sun comes over the Sandia’s and the humming of I-40 freeway traffic grows louder through Tijeras Canyon. It is currently bow hunting season and the bucks, not far from us, are at risk. I pray hunters this year are lousy shots. I don’t know, for sure, but I think I see a big buck pointing a big telephoto lens at me, getting closeups for his own Facebook page. Going through a hunting season as the target isn’t rewarding but these guys and girls seem pretty nonchalant considering the price on their heads. Hiking is always better when you see some nature. We pass these deer, in peace, and I can almost hear their sigh of relief. I’m not a deer, but even I too am wary of humans.  

Bumblebee Lunchtime Backyard dining

    If I were a true horticulturist, I would know what this bush in my back yard is called. I would know its scientific and common names. I would know if the plant has medicinal uses, how much water it needs, the proper way to trim it, the best times of the year to transplant. In the city, us city folks don’t always keep up on the nature around us. In jungle villages, even little children know every plant and animal within their touch, how they can help and hurt. I do like the fact that this getting bigger bush gives me shade, hides a neighbor’s back yard from view,doesn’t take a lot of maintenance and care, has nice flowers and attracts birds and bees. This bee doesn’t pay me mind as he digs into nature’s lunchbox. Dining, while hovering in mid air, is a tricky and remarkable skill. This guy would make a damn good helicopter pilot in the next U.S. nation building exercise. Appreciating nature, before we eliminate it all, seems to be good operating policy.  

What’s Real? Reflections on a lake

    The reflection of the clouds,on the lake’s calm surface,quiver. The reflection of the forest’s trees, on the lake’s surface, reaches across the lake almost to the bank we are fishing from and look as if trees themselves are growing out of the lake, right in front of me.   If I had a long enough arm, I could reach down and scoop up these clouds in the palm of my right hand and they would wiggle like the fishing earthworms we just dug up in a close by field. I know the clouds and forest on the lake’s surface are reflections. The real clouds are in the sky and the real forest covers the rugged mountain sides directly to the south of us, across Hermit’s Lake. If my mind can be even temporarily fooled by nature’s slight of hand, how much more of what I see is not what is really there? When scientists come up with better measuring sticks, we might start seeing more of the world as it is, not fooled by reflections, optical illusions, mirages, black holes, mirrors and miracles.. There will, on that day, as Jerry Lee Lewis sings in his rollicking rock and roll classic,be ” a whole lot of shaking going on.”      

Hermit’s Lake Richard and Maria's get away

    Mornings and evenings at Hermit’s Lake are natural wonders. The lake, this evening, is without ripples. Fish rise with a splash to the water’s surface, for flies, an eagle lazily circles above us, watching the lake’s surface for the same fish we are trying to catch. Richard and Maria share a bench, all of us fishing hard as the sun drops and you hunker in your jacket to keep warm. It will be dark soon.  Ninety nine out of a hundred people would say ” this is a good definition of paradise” , and they wouldn’t be wrong. Whether all this natural wonder is by design or the result of chaotic chance is a question I ponder with the same intensity of a kid playing with a rubric cube. None of us three say anything to upset the balance, this evening, our planet a colorful top spinning on a sidewalk, a perpetual motion machine set in motion with one flip of God’s wrist. The fish this evening must be enjoying the sunset as much as we are. We haven’t even had a bite yet.    
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