TREES

Trees

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mount is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

–Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

 We have, over the past two or three years, had the privilege of visiting many of our National Parks and some other worthy sites in our vast and beautiful country. I’m not a loco-tree-hugger, but I have become a huge fan and I appreciate the necessity of keeping as many as proves to be healthy for them.

 This is my holiday blog. It is not about Christmas trees, as beautiful as they are, but a note to honor the creator of these magnificent living partners in His world.

 I begin with my most recent trip to visit Pearl Fryar. Topiary Artist. In Bishopville, SC Mr. Fryar has spent his life creating this garden from a corn field. It was featured once on CBS Sunday Morning and I was spellbound. I never dreamed I would see it, let alone meet the sculptor. He is ageing, but still the strongest and most agile person I have met older than me. He has started to hire help and has started a foundation to carry on his work. www.gardenconservancy.org

 

ODD TREES:  A few odd ones we move to next:  a work of art called a singing tree, a tree with wonderfully shaped root system, a frozen tree archway and a shoe tree we saw in Montana.  I have no idea what the purpose of the shoes in the tree were.  I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a picture of a tree with such unusual fruit.

 

 

SEQUOIA:  These majestic giants are native to our west coast.  A few have been moved to other continents during the Victorian era, before the environmental protection laws were written.  These laws are meant to save other trees from un-native insect pests.  A good Idea.  Sweet Husband is standing in front of one exported to Scotland over a hundred years ago.  It is still quite young.  These trees live to over 2,000 years making them the oldest organism on our planet.  Pictures cannot capture their grandeur.

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Banyan Tree:  These trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots that grow into thick woody trunks, which can become indistinguishable from the main trunk with age. Old trees can spread out laterally, using these prop roots to cover a wide area. In some species, the effect is for the props to develop into a sort of forest covering a considerable area, every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk. The topology of this structure of interconnection inspired the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system Banyan Vines.

This photo was taken at Edison’s summer home in Florida.  It covers an acre of ground.

When near the Edison & Ford Winter Estates' west entrance, see t

REDWOOD:  Superlatives abound when a person tries to describe old-growth redwoods: immense, ancient, stately, mysterious, powerful. Yet the trees were not designed for easy assimilation into language. Their existence speaks for themselves, not in words, but rather in a soft-toned voice of patience and endurance.  I can only express my reaction in tears of gratitude to my wonderful creator.

Exactly why the redwoods grow so tall is a mystery. Theories continue to develop but proof remains elusive. The trees can reach ages of 2,000 years and regularly reach 600 years.

Resistance to natural enemies such as insects and fire are built-in features of a coast redwood. Diseases are virtually unknown and insect damage insignificant thanks to the high tannin content of the wood. Thick bark and foliage that rests high above the ground provides protection from all but the hottest fires

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Monterey Cedar: These are medium-sized coniferous evergreen tree, which often becomes irregular and flat-topped as a result of the strong winds that are typical of its native area along the pacific coast of California. It grows to heights of up to 40 meters (133 feet) in perfect growing conditions, and its trunk diameter can reach 2.5 meters (over 8 feet). The foliage grows in dense sprays which are bright green in color and release a deep lemony aroma when crushed.  I fell in love with their wind-shaped beauty

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Live Oaks:  As a resident of the deep south, all of my life, these magnificent trees never fail to make my heart stop each time I see one.  They do not become lovely until they are at least 100 years old.  The trees below are 300 to 500 years old.  They lose their leaves in the spring when the new leaves push out last years leaves.  Therefore they are evergreen and probably why they gained the name LIVE.

Lodgepole pine cone, Pinus contorta, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

This is the cone of the Lodge Pole Pine.  The seeds are naturally glued in and can only be dislodged by fire.  The forest are dense and as far as the eye can see in most areas of Montana and Wyoming.

Flora and Fauna (& topography): West of the Pacos

Blue Bonnet

On December 1st we left Baton Rouge for points west. We spent two nights in Houston, a week in TX hill country, two nights in Big Bend National Park, then drove up to NM to see Carlsbad Caverns and Santa Fe. We then headed to AZ, NV and finally CA. On January 19th we arrived back in Baton Rouge for a much needed rest from the road of several days.

Below are pictures of the topography, flora and fauna we encountered. Much of this I have never seen. I am very taken with our beautiful western states, especially Big Sur and north in California.

TEXAS

Mud bird nest in the cliff near the Rio Grande

Mud bird nest in the cliff near the Rio Grande

Mr. Spider:  As big as my hand

Mr. Spider: As big as my hand

Blooming desert

Blooming desert

Purple Cactus.  Who knew?

Purple Cactus. Who knew?

Road Runner.  Meep-Meep

Road Runner. Meep-Meep

The kind of cactus one sees in old movie

The kind of cactus one sees in old movies

Texas Long Horn Cattle, Spectacular and LARGE

Texas Long Horn Cattle, Spectacular and LARGE

TX Hill Country

TX Hill Country

Tiny Hill Country Deer, found in abundance

Tiny Hill Country Deer, found in abundance

Live Oak Trees do not get very large in TX

Live Oak Trees do not get very large in TX

Grieving Angel in Glenwood Garden, Houston

Grieving Angel in Glenwood Garden, Houston

Landscaping, TX Style

Landscaping, TX Style

Wild Horses on Rio Grande

Wild Horses on Rio Grande

Cactus growing from the rocks

Cactus growing from the rocks

Cactus and Sage Grass.  This looks and feels like an aquarium scape

Cactus and Sage Grass (& more). This looks and feels like an aquarium scape

Big Bend Beauty

Big Bend Beauty

Life will find a way

Life will find a way

NEW MEXICO

View from the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, NM

View from the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, NM

Carlsbad, too

Carlsbad, too

Carlsbad

Carlsbad

ARIZONA

Painted Desert National Park

Painted Desert National Park

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Where the deer and the antelope play...

Where the deer and the antelope play…

Petrified Wood in the Painted Desert National Park

Petrified Wood in the Painted Desert National Park

Raven:  Never More

Raven: Never More

Tumbleweed

Tumbleweed

Blooming Cactus

Blooming Cactus

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

NEVADA

Who knew the NV desert has mountains?  We didn't expect it at all.

Who knew the NV desert has mountains? We didn’t expect it at all.

Las Vegas Topography (smile)

Las Vegas Topography (smile)

Blooming Ceiling:  Glass flowers at Bellagio

Blooming Ceiling: Glass flowers at Bellagio

Christmas Flowers

Christmas Flowers

Las Vegas has the rare, endangered golden Lion

Las Vegas is home of the rare, endangered, golden Lion

Hoover Lake.  It looks like the shoreline is painted, This is mineral deposits from the lowering water levels.

Hoover Lake. It looks like the shoreline is painted, This is mineral deposits from the lowering water levels.

CALIFORNIA

Panda:  San Diego ZOO

Panda: San Diego ZOO

Koala:  San Diego ZOO

Koala: San Diego ZOO

JP Getty Museum and Gardens

JP Getty Museum and Gardens

Succulent Tree (I do not know the name, they were all over California)

Succulent Tree (I do not know the name, they were all over California)

Monterey Cedar

Monterey Cedar

Agave

Agave

Sea Elephant

Sea Elephant

RAVEN:  This guy is following us from state to state

RAVEN: This guy is following us from state to state

Mexican Fan Palm at Hearst Castle

Mexican Fan Palm at Hearst Castle

Labra Tar Pits

Labra Tar Pits

Caladium:  Rose Parade Float

Caladium: Rose Parade Float

Life everywhere in California

Life everywhere in California

Big Sur in bloom in January

Big Sur in bloom in January

Whales at Big Sur

Whales at Big Sur

McWay Falls, Big Sur

McWay Falls, Big Sur

Eucalyptus groves (the fragrance was wonderful)

Eucalyptus groves (the fragrance was wonderful)

Seals and cubs

Seals and cubs

Red liken

Red liken

Elk:  Reintroduced to the CA National Seashore

Elk: Reintroduced to the CA National Seashore

California, home of fruits and nuts (smile)

California, home of fruits and nuts (smile)

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood

El Capitan at Yosemite

El Capitan at Yosemite

Sequoia the Magnificent

Sequoia the Magnificent

San Diego

Every good thing you have ever heard about San Diego is true, I can testify.  They were having an odd cold snap while we were visiting, but the days turned out to be warm with sunshine.  Only the nights and early mornings were cold.

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Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre urban cultural park in San Diego. In addition to open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths, it contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. There are also many recreational facilities and several gift shops and restaurants within the boundaries of the park. Placed in reserve in 1835, the park’s site is one of the oldest in the United States dedicated to public recreational use.  Naturally, we went to the art museum.

balboaFirst day in San Diego was Christmas eve.  We had planned to be in the zoo from opening bell to closing bell.  Unfortunately, the zoo closed at 5pm because it was Christmas eve (naturally).  Sweet husband was upset because the website said it closed at 9pm.  However, by 4:30 p.m. he was ready to call it a day.  The zoo is a combination zoo and botanical garden.  There is a bus tour and an overhead gondola lift to move you from one end of the park to another, quickly.  It is truly wonderful.

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I was most impressed that the zoo had a Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES).  This was founded in 1975 at the urging of Kurt Benirschke, who became its first director. CRES was renamed the division of Conservation and Research for Endangered Species in 2005 to better reflect its mission.

The day after Christmas we drove out to del Coronado Hotel on Coronado island.  Hotel del Coronado (also known as The Del and Hotel Del) is a beachfront luxury hotel.  It is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is the second largest wooden structure in the United States and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and a California Historical Landmark in 1970.  It opened in 1888, and at the time was the largest resort hotel in the world. It has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities through the years. The hotel has been featured in numerous movies and books.

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Christmas day we went for Christmas services at a nice Methodist church near our hotel.  It was a sweet, sacred celebration complete with a wonderful Christmas choir and communion.  This was the event that made me KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we were in California – they had communion with gluten free bread.  Enough said.  That afternoon we went for the first day release of Unbroken.  The movie based on the book by the same name about Louis Zamperini and directed by Angelia Jolie.  The book and the movie were both excellent.

That week we also received news of the loss of our sweet friend, Lexie.  She was a faithful companion, friend and playmate for 15 wonderful years.  That day I stayed alone at the hotel while Sweet husband, sister-in-law and brother-in-law went back to Balboa Park for the day.

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Count The Cost

    Things I have learned

  • People everywhere are warm and wonderful.
  • California is fabulous.  My opinion has changed, If I could afford it, I would live there…this what I used to believe (home of the fruits and nuts – I couldn’t resist taking this picture of the truck farmer north of San Francisco), But now, it is the most magical and wonderful of all.

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  • Seasonal clothing should be packed in separate boxes, so you can pull out only what you will need the next day…unless you are staying several days, then you bring in two full suitcases.  We have encountered very hot to very cold since May, 2014.
  • Shoes should have their own box.  (these first two bullet points all go in the very back of the van with the cooler – easily accessible)
  • In the single suitcase pack the daily essentials: under garments, makeup & shave kit, meds, jewelry, PJs, socks and clothing for the next day.
  • One LARGE purse is needed for quick access to items that are needed during the day.  SUCH AS:  WALLET/CELL PHONE CASE [can be purchased at Walmart for $5.00], COUGH DROPS, CAMERA, CHARGER CORDS, EMORY BOARD, PENS, SMALL NOTE BOOK, CHAPSTICK, SALINE SPRAY, TYLENOL, BANDAIDS, ETC.  My wallet/cell phone case can be pulled out with my camera when needed, leaving the balance in the car…because darn, it is heavy!

purse

  • It is not necessary to have a perfect hairdo if you are going to be in the car all day touring about.  Nice hair is for a few events…a very few – like nice dinner out or church.
  • This does not have to be expensive.  Thanks to friends and family and Groupon/LivingSocial we have stayed really inexpensively.  Plus we have slept in the car when necessary (at a camp ground) – really very comfortable with an air mattress.
  • One not so sweet friend of sweet husband commented, “I sure hope the money holds out.”  Frankly, we are doing this on a very small monthly income.  If it were not for genuine friends and family (you know who you are) a lot of this would not have happened.  We do not over stay our welcome.  We communicate with these friends/family via email and phone and they actually ask when we will be near enough to visit.
  • A computer is necessary.
  • Someone to help with mail is necessary.
  • A (mostly) national pharmacy is necessary.  We have been using Walgreens.  Fortunately, we don’t take a lot of prescriptions.
  • A (mostly) national bank.
  • Good credit and some cash.
  • Patience with your companion and with yourself.
  • A good laundry bag with a ziplock package of laundry pods (I use TIDE)
  • A portable WiFi so you can search for a lodging groupon when you know where you will be stopping for the night. (we use Verizon’s MiFI – just bear in mind, if there is no cell coverage, there is no internet)
  • Most bills can be received and paid online, however, a small supply of checks, envelopes and stamps are needed.
  • An up-to-date, national road atlas/book.
  • An up-to-date passport.
  • I am now, officially a TREE HUGGER after experiencing the great Redwood, Pacific Cedar, Eucalyptus and the Sequoia.

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The Tournament of Roses Parade

Sweet husband and his sweet sister planned this trip for us at least two years ago. We joined an educational tour group called Road Scholar so we could get the full-meal-deal out of the trip. Believe me we did. I am not a parade person, I am, however, a hands-on person and that is exactly what I got. The group price was really reasonable, we all stayed together in a hotel near Pasadena, transportation to all events were provided as well as all meals. Just show up when and where they tell you…EASY!

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The theme this year was, “Inspiring Stories”. Local son and hero, Louis Zamperini was asked to be the Grand Marshall. Unfortunately he passed away this past summer, but his family represented him along with a horse without a rider. His inspiring story was told by Laura Hillenbrand in her book, “Unbroken”, which was made into a movie, directed by Angelina Jolie. I highly recommend the book, it is one of the best I have read in years.

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Speaking of horses, they have been a constant companion to the parade from the first year and they presented some magnificent horses and riders for this year’s event.

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First day we were taken to this enormous warehouse facility owned by Phoenix (a company who actually designs and builds some of the corporate floats). The volunteers are all managed by The Kiwanis Club. Here we received our work orders for the day. We were assigned to decorate the Princess Cruise Line Float in the morning and cut roses all afternoon.

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THINGS I LEARNED:

  • 55 million watch this parade worldwide
  • The cost of a float is between $50,000 and $200,000
  • They paint a pink line in the middle of the street, all the way down the 5 mile route so the drivers (who are inside) can see where to go.  There is someone on the float or walking beside it telling the driver when to stop and when to go forward.
  • All the bands are high school bands with the exception of the Pasadena Community College Band and the two college bands representing the two teams planning in the Rose Bowl.
  • The royal court is chosen from among the exceptional young women from the local high schools.
  • There are only three judges and 24 prizes.
  • There are between 2 and 3 million roses grown for and flown in for this parade.
  • There is nothing dyed and every item on the float is organic:  flowers, dried flowers, fruit, grains, bark, vegetables, sea weed, etc.

Besides decorating the float we had the opportunity to attend classes lead by people who have held different positions for this event. We went to Pasadena Community College to hear the marching bands. We were also taken to the Getty Museum for one afternoon. The weather was spectacular as were the building and grounds. Naturally the art was spectacular, as well.  We have seen many art museums over the past several months and I am always impressed by the architure; the Getty was no exception.  It is perched on a mountain overlooking Los Angeles on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

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We learned that the bands had to raise their own money to attend and perform. Plus, they actually played songs during the full five mile route. I have seen many bands in parades and they just mostly marched and beat the drums to the time of the march. These kids worked very hard…makes you proud.

We were taken to see the floats on display the day after the parade (we were allowed in before the general public went in) Pictures of finished floats below.  I hope you can see the details.

I was skeptical about this event going in, but I would do it again and recommend it to any Rose Parade lovers. The only negative was the weather on the day we viewed the bands (rain, lots of it). California needs it so we didn’t gripe. It was also the coldest Parade on record – who would have guessed in sunny California.

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Drivng Up Highway 1 In California: Part 1b

San Simeon, CA the Castle built by William Randolph Hearst, a man addicted to creating.

We recently toured the William Randolph Hearst Castle.  What struck me almost immediately about this beautiful place was his love of doing it.  He was a world-class antique collector (today we might call him a hoarder).  He was a serial builder.  He built publishing businesses, one of the most productive film studios of the time and homes.  He had between 30-40 homes all over the world.  He loved the creative act of building.  He was daily, actively involved in the act of creating.  He inherited a fortune, but created his own over and above that.

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Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Roman Bath, Hearst Castle

Roman Bath, Hearst Castle

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27 NASB)

To be creative is part of who we are because we are created in the image of the original creator.  We are a unique and personal creation.  I have found and many researchers concur that there is a deep and abiding satisfaction in the act of creating.  There is great satisfaction in the doing of a project, not just the accomplishment of the project.  Some find it in their professional life, or in the act of building a business or raising children and making a home.  It is different from recreation, community service or social activities, but it can become a part of these activities.  Some sing, write and play music, some are artists and crafters, some cook and bake, some garden, some decorate, some sew or knit, there are woodworkers/builders, some write….some enjoy the doing of several of these.  Just for the pure joy and (sometime) frustration of the act.

It is okay to be afraid, in fact it is required.  No one has ever created anything worthwhile they didn’t fear would not work.  Once we understand and accept it, we can only then finally live with our fears and create our best work. I’ve heard it said, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.”  I am discovering many people who really live this way.

I have a cousin (June McClary) who has turned, “Lunch With Friends” into an event.  She and they make the most wonderful hats and dress accordingly for these festivals on a regular basis.

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Another cousin (Frances Peterson) who gardens, cans, bakes and cooks; then lays down at night to have the energy to get up and do it all over again.

Fran

Both my brothers, a couple of my male cousins and my nephew all are musical.  They write music, sing and build instruments.  They play music even when no one is watching/listening.  Sometimes they would rather do that than eat.

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My brother-in-law purchased the Theater Organ from The Saenger Theater in Baton Rouge.  He then took it apart and reassembled it in his den – REALLY!  He built an extra room for the pipe chamber.  It is an amazing sight and sound.  He also rebuilds player pianos…these are ongoing projects of love.  If you are ever in the Jackson, MS area, let me know and I will assist you in a grand tour. (No picture available at press time)

I have a friend (Karen Clark) who paints…beautiful still life and landscapes and portraits.

Karen

I have another friend (Toby Morgan) who absolutely loves working with wood and building furniture.  You can see the joy in his face when he talks about a project. (No picture available at press time)

Lastly, I have a life-long friend (David Gray) who finds, rebuilds/restores, and resells pinball machines. He has enlisted his son in this fun activity.

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I write.  I write because I love it. Even if no one but me, myself and I reads it or enjoys it.  I also love to garden and do crafts with my Grand-Wonders (or alone).  I have another life-long friend (Trish Holland) who turned the love of writing into a profession.  She writes children’s books.

Trish Holland

These people above are all part of the Baby Boomer generation, so they (we) have taken “hobbies” to a whole new level.  Follow our lead; find what you love and what makes your heart smile and fear, then do it.

This is an interactive blog post, please add, in the comments, what you do that makes your heart smile and add pictures.

MORE SIGNS FROM THE ROAD

We drove from Redding to Eureka on state Hwy 299 connecting to Hwy 1, 101 to Mountain View Hwy over some really beautiful and unbelievably narrow, steep and curved mountain and coastal roads (more about the actual stuff we saw later).  Sweet husband did a wonderful job, I on the other hand I used the break on my side of the car to the point I pulled a muscle in my back (REALLY!) and THANK GOD FOR GOOD BREAKS.  Below are just some of the signs we passed…some gave me pause…yes, there were plenty of idiots on bicycles.  Many times we had to stop for workers cleaning up rock slides, YES REALLY!

bike curve curvie duck flood golf horse and rider ice rail steep warning steep Tsunami worker