Chihuly Magic in the Desert

IMG_6419I had a tranquil New Year’s Eve, wandering alone (amidst a crowd of thousands) in the Desert Botanical Gardens. Las Noches de las Luminarias is a beautiful holiday tradition here in the Arizona desert as the gardens are transformed for 31 days by the bright tiny spark of twinkling lights adorning the desert trees and the soft glow from 8,000 hand-lit Luminaria bags lining the walkways. This year, the desert plants were accentuated by the magic of Chihuly glass sculptures.

A starburst of blazing blue captures the guests' attention as they enter the park.

A starburst of blazing blue captures the guests’ attention as they enter the park.

I spent a long time with each sculpture, partly because I searched for angles to photograph, but mostly because they are beautiful, whimsical, and fantastical. It was good that I was alone because I would have annoyed anyone with me by my dawdling.


I am pretty sure that these pieces represent flowers and cacti (need to do some research), but they feel like snakes…beds of brilliantly beautiful snakes.

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It’s a quarter moon…

It’s a quarter moon in a ten cent town
Time for me to lay my heartaches down…


1/40 sec at f/11, ISO 100, 200 mm lens w/ 2X extender on 70-200 lens, Canon 60D

I borrowed my son’s 2X extender to capture tonight’s first quarter moon. He may or may not get it back.

Quote from “Easy From Now On” written by Susana Clark and soulfully performed by Emmylou Harris.

Tonight’s Moon

Waxing Gibbous

I wasn’t sure what a “waxing gibbous” is, but a quick search led me to

After the new moon, the sunlit portion is increasing, but less than half, so it is waxing crescent. After the first quarter, the sunlit portion is still increasing, but now it is more than half, so it is waxing gibbous. After the full moon (maximum illumination), the light continually decreases. So the waning gibbous phase occurs next. Following the third quarter is the waning crescent, which wanes until the light is completely gone — a new moon.

What 4th Grade Looks Like

Have you ever seen Gregory Peck’s remarkable portrayal of Atticus Finch in the film version of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird?

Mary Badham’s Scout is just as I’d imagined her to be when I read the novel.

Take a look at her hairstyle, which mirrors mine when I was a kid — brown, straight, with bangs — frequently messy.

However, for special occasions (school picture day, for example), Mother would cut it, perm it, curl it (bobby pins in my hair overnight … much more comfortable than the enormous cylinders I wore each night during high school … but I digress.)

The picture below shows me in 4th grade, the year of my first bad experiences in elementary school. Prior to this, I was blessed to be taught by three sweet women,  Sister Mary Jerome, Sister Rita, and Mrs. Buechlein, who praised and encouraged everything I did; I blossomed as a student.

On the first day of 4th grade, Sister Mary Jerome yelled at me. During her introductory speech / lecture, she asked if there were any questions. I raised my hand, stood up (the law at the time), and happily announced that Mother had given birth to my brother Andy the night before. She crossly told me that such a comment does not belong in the classroom and to save it for recess. I withered, and the tone was set for the entire year. I did not bloom again until I survived out of her class.

I find it appropriate that my one physical memento of that year is this picture which reveals the horrific hairstyling techniques of my well-meaning mother.


Have you ever discovered a word and were drawn to it? PERSPICACIOUS! I like the sound of it and the looks of it. I roll the word around in my mouth and play with it in my mind. There’s something perspicaciously smart about the word, and I’ve been looking for a way to use it.

What do I do? Walk up to someone and say, Hi! I’m feeling quite perspicacious today. How about you? Or should I write, That is a perspicacious comment, there. How about this: While Dan’s writing is perspicacious, yours is rather obtuse.

PERSPICACIOUS: penetratingly discerning or perceptive

Synonyms: insightful, wise, astute, sagacious, discerning, perceptive, clear-sighted, smart, sharp; Antonym: obtuse. 

Don’t you think it’s a pretty cool word?

While I’d like to include a photo that shows my perspicaciousness, I couldn’t find one. Instead, I’ll share a shot I took Saturday night at the park where I met “Lizard Man” … I wonder how perspicacious HE is!

Night Bridges

Yesterday, I spent three peaceful, solitary hours watching people and shooting pictures as the late afternoon melted into night. This small city park borders a narrow river traversed by four bridges: an old train trestle, a beautiful old bridge, an ultra-modern foot bridge, and the powerful light-rail bridge.

Lights dance across the sleek light-rail bridge and paint the water in a riot of changing colors.

The train streaks across the lighted bridge.

The bold lines of the new light-rail bridge contrast with the quiet of dignity of the old bridge built in 1931.

I found these boys hanging out under the bridge and asked them to just continue doing what they had been doing; they were happy to indulge me. While the un-posed shot has some flaws, I thought I’d post it just to let you share in the boys’ fun as they await the rumble of the next train. (I’d like to recreate the scene so that my lines on each side of the shot mirror each other.) 

Exercise in focus

I wanted the focus to be on her eye. See the dirt on her hat? That’s because she just loves wearing this yellow hat & I love photographing her in it. Notice the wispy hair in her eyes? She has not yet had her 1st haircut.

50 mm 1/2000 sec f/1.4 ISO 400