Can you fly?

Always loved this song – rumored to be sung to me as a kid – maybe that’s part of the reason it resonates with me.  Regardless….Ella Fitzgerald’s voice is beautiful in this YouTube piece.
“One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky…”

The big questions are –
❓Are your wings spreading out…
❓Are you trying to fly…
❓Are you singing…

I’ve been thinking a lot of late about taking chances, i.e., spreading one’s wings. In chatting with friends, we often comment on how some people, particularly younger ones, are willing to just throw something up, whether it be on Social Media, in life, in business, or even just an idea.  It’s pretty much an anything goes and let’s see what sticks attitude. As an “older” person I often feel like I have to know something about what’s going on before I do ‘X, Y or Z’ for BBB3 (Botanical Beauties and Beasties.) The curiosity is that in many other parts of my ‘creative life’ I seem to be able to throw the spaghetti up and see if it sticks. I even enjoy doing that. For instance, I have just started playing with acrylic paints. I know NOTHING about them, and for that matter, I know virtually nothing about painting. And yet, when it comes to this I only have smiles-I have no shame, little fear, and I just allow myself to play and paint knowing that ‘something’ will turn out on that small canvas lying in front of me. I am so sure of my fun play that I bought a package deal of 14 little blank canvases-Chutzpah!!! So there I am, having a grand time, mixing paints and mediums, using paint brushes, cotton sticks, whatever, with a minimal idea as to the outcome. I have only a vague concept if I am playing within the lines or the rules, and couldn’t care less. It’s exciting and fun to just be like a kid again-just DOING WHATEVER. Surprisingly the painting(s) are not too bad. One I like quite a lot (see below)- as do some of my friends.

So…why is it that sometimes a level of laze fare and ‘confidence’ exudes, while other times fear and one’s mind stop us? What it is that lets one throw caution to the wind and just try things out?  I think it may have something to do with private verse public? What are your thoughts?

And with much hesitation – Izzy shares my first painting! Izabella and Blue Painting

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The Beginner’s Guide to Spring Rain

Feeling a bit soggy?
Here are a few ideas of ways to make a rainy day better.

Zoe in the rain
Zoie – Spring Rain

Don’t think of it as cold wet water:
Think SPRING FLOWERS!
💐🌿🌻🌸

Here’s a list of ideas for spring shower happiness.

  • 💦 Pretend you are two years old and go splash in puddles-I know a very special little one that this works well for!
  • 💦 Enjoy some artwork. Galleries, museums, or exhibits are all luxurious and wonderful places to forget it’s raining outside.
  • 💦 There’s always the movies.
  • 💦 Meet a friend for a cup, or glass, of whatever makes you smile.
  • 💦 Plan a rain barrel for your garden, then the next time it rains you will be receiving bonus water!
  • 💦 Gray is much better than blackLook outside-gray is probably everywhere and Mother Nature is usually is pretty smart!
    Maybe Gray still is the new black?
  • 💦 Gray is a subdued and quiet color so crawl into that: Tuck yourself in and enjoy a good read with a hot cup of tea/coffee. Or just nap!
  • 💦 Remember that rain is not frozen, or slippery, and it requires no shoveling.
  • 💦 Learn new things. For instance- Did you know that the iconic crayon color, Dandelion, will be retiring? To send him off in style, Crayola is taking him on a 4-week retirement tour! VERY clever marketing and fun to watch. Here’s the link. https://youtu.be/WSBaRK1BM3Q
    (BYW – today 3/31/17 is National Crayon Day…who knew?)

AND OF COURSE – there is always “Singing in the Rain” with Gene Kelly!

What do Civil Rights, the Blues Music and Poverty all have in common?

The answer is all in the new book featured below.

I am very pleased, and proud, to announce that my friend, Ray Uzanas, book Faces and Places of the Deep South is now out, published and fantastic!

Why is this on the Botanical Beauties and Beasties blog you may ask? Well, it’s for two reasons. The first is that it is truly a lovely book, quality in all ways. The second is that I was personally involved by doing all the book design, layout and cover work. We are both very pleased to be able to present it and share it!

The words from the author are as follows…

In “Faces and Places of the Deep South,” Raymond Uzanas takes the reader on his 2015 journey through America’s rural south where he visits towns mired in poverty and those infamous for their role in the civil rights movement of mid-20th century America. Uzanas explores the vast Mississippi Delta that gave birth to the Delta Blues sounds; traveling to its smallest desolate towns as well as to Clarksdale and its annual Juke Joint Blues Festival.

Interviews and shared stories with people he meets resonates across racial and economic lines as he profiles the lives and times of today’s Deep South. It is a book mostly about the people–what Ray calls the human wealth of the region. His photographs capture and convey the mood and character of the land and its people. Come along for a ride through a half century of southern history.

You can purchase the book at Amazon or Blurb, or if you are very lucky you can see it/read it at a few select local Libraries.  FYI, the book is costly as it is a high quality, 120 page, full color “picture book” filled with beautiful images as well as amazing stories of civil rights, the extreme poverty and life in the generally unknown Deep South, and the great Delta Blues Music originating from the Deep South. Incidentally, Ray does not mark the books up, the cost you see is truly the raw cost of printing each book and of no profit to the author. If you are interested in purchasing one, the Blurb site is a little less money than Amazon  (since Amazon adds some for themselves.)

The link for Blurb: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/

The link for Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Faces-Places-South-Raymond-Uzanas/

We both hope you get a chance to enjoy the many Faces and Places of the Deep South.

Holidays, Alzheimers, Exercise for Brain Health Research, and the PCT

As we here in North America settle into Labor Day Weekend, I will use these “holiday days” to post a tribute to my friend, and his labors of love for his wife and their cause.

You may (hopefully) remember my post of the introduction of Diggerfoot and so my friend Kirk. Kirk, his daughter Charissa, and his wife Cindy, are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with, and for, Cindy’s bucket list. Cindy has Alzheimer’s. The couples core is as long distance hikers, or as they seemed to be called, thru-hikers. As a couple they have traversed the country (The Continental Divide Trail,) hiked the Appalachian Trial and this is Kirks second time on the PCT. Compleating the three is called the Triple Crown. It’s a desire of Cindy’s to have that accomplishment, matching her husbands. As Kirk so clearly stated on his website, and I want to remind you…”We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.  To see how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit that page.”

Cindy-and-Charissa

Flowers-Sierra2

I will take two consecutive posting here on The Botanical Beauties & Beasties site to try to recap some of what I found the enticing tidbits of info and fact from the first two months of their journey. These two postings may be a bit longer than usual, but I hope you will find them compelling and that they tempt you to connect to Kirks blog and find out more about their cause and journey. (http://www.humanityhiker.com/) ~

The hike began at Snoqualmie Pass. This pass is about 45 minutes from the Seattle Metro area and is part of Rocky Mountains. It was a little tougher than expected the hikers had a false start. From Kirk’s blog -“We spent our whole first day in the snow, also struggling to find the trail. The day never climbed above freezing…” So here in MA we were enjoying all the summer trimmings and they were in snow! For a few reasons, Kirk makes the call and they turn back. He decides “We would go further south to start our hike north to the Canadian border, precisely at Mackenzie Pass in Oregon. I also resolved that we really had two goals. One was to get Cindy the Triple Crown. The other, and more important, was to enable Cindy to enjoy life, even at the cost of the other goal.”

With this change of their plans they have created  “a “flip flop” thru-hike in order to stay away from snow and make the hiking easier for one not as sure of foot as she once was.….Our first day out from Mackenzie Pass, after first hiking through a lava field reminiscent of a moonscape, we encountered over a mile of hiking on snow, followed by burned forests littered with extensive blowdowns. This was not making hiking easy for Cindy but I made the call to go on this time because the snowfield was on gentle slopes, no steep traverses, and burned forests don’t go on forever.”

Sonora-Pass-View2
Panoramic views!

Now, they are on track, up at 10,500 feet, they have climbed out of Sonora Pass and have an amazing panoramic view. Sonora Pass northern boundary is Yosemite National Park, and it also where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses Hwy 108 for those of you who know roads! With an elevation of 9,620 feet, it is the second highest paved pass in the Sierra Nevada range. By early July the gang is in the S. Lake Tahoe area. Kirk is running support and a self-appointed Sherpa to make this journey possible. He says in his posting that “I think is one of the most beautiful stretches along the PCT, the Desolation Wilderness.” I read that the temps are in 80’s, I haven’t read bad words about snow for a few postings now, and the trip seems to be moving along. I am glad for them.

A July posting is called Collapsing Tent Poles. Cindy is struggling with daily tasks and  towards the end of his post Kirk says- “At times like this you wonder why you would continue with this. The answers come from Cindy. We are always meeting other hikers and tell them something about what we are doing. To one group I gave the report on how exercise is the only thing shown to actually regenerate brain tissue. Cindy chimed in cheerfully: “Yep! That’s why I’m out here! …. Well, and I love hiking.” The positivity that Cindy demonstrates, and the strength they all show, is proof of the wonders of the human spirit when we, as people, need to call it up, somehow it seems to rise to the occasion! If you are mindful of it, you can witness this all the time in our daily lives. The struggles are unique to our own paths, and each one is equally important to the individual facing the challenge.

A few days later and the group is about 10 miles N. of Sierra City, headed over to hike the Sierra Buttes section of the PCT. “As we descended into Sierra City we finally got down low enough to be out of the snow.” (Amazing out here on the East coast we were enjoying a very lovely summer! Sun and no snow thank goodness!)…By mid July I am seeing posting that mentioned Cindy and her gang are hiking 20 miles a day! Impressive!

SNOW!
SNOW!

This posting is from Kirks blog on July 26, and the three hikers are back close to where they actually tried to start their hike originally. Remember that a 10 mile snowfield turned them back around to begin elsewhere!  “We were just a few miles into the Three Sisters Wilderness…As we tackled this section south of Mackenzie Pass on July 22 there were no ten mile snowfields. Indeed, I failed to remember how spectacular the scenery was through here, a source of continual awe were it not for being focused on the footpath. The lava fields made for some tough footwork for Cindy, as did the snowfields. For though they did not last for ten miles the patches occurred frequently over such a length.” Day two of that section, and thunderstorms hit…rain, drizzle, and cold, created this sentence. “All rain gear not made of rubber, to my knowledge, have a saturation point. Ours had reached that in the continuing rain. Wet and cold, I knew Cindy faced hypothermia conditions. After only three miles I knew I had to find a campsite soon.” As expected, they weathered the storm … one of the most heart warming moments in my readings of Kirk’s post is what he wrote after setting up a campsite, cold, wet, and in that storm – “This was the essence of us as a couple: content in our sleeping bags after a day’s hike, weathering the storm. This was normal for us; the way things should be. I looked over at Cindy and absorbed the music, knowing just how fleeting such “normal” moments now are. I wanted to freeze and hold onto that moment forever.”  http://www.humanityhiker.com/weathering-the-storm/  As Kirk stated, the experience had created a new normal and they had gotten thru it all. An interesting question for us to think about. That concept of “normal” and how it is really a very wide dynamic range for most of us and pretty much most of the time! Do you have a new “normal”? Is yours ever evolving? I know mine is.

So I will end this post here – and in a day or two, I will ”recap” the best I can the August postings! Catching us all up-to-date, and hopefully a little more “aware.”

As I write those words, I can’t help but also be reminded of all the awareness that the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought to the ALS issue. There are so many important places, things, and issues that call for our attention and awareness these days!

 “Slowly, I witness the constants in my life fade around me. All things must pass. I just wish we could have more control in the manner of their passing.” – Kirk Sinclair