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Under Umbrellas

I love prepositions in general.  When I was in the classroom teaching English, the students always had fun coming up with extreme examples, once I set them loose with my proviso:  prepositions simply explain where Tweety Bird runs trying to get away from Sylvester the Cat. Or Rocky flies to allude Boris and Natasha.  Or The Joker hides to escape Batman.  You get the idea.  Of course, that could be anywhere:  over the rainbow, into the cage, beyond the horizon, beside the dog, up up and away, and under the bridge are just a few options.

Under LYNX UNDER LEDGEFor me, UNDER has always been an especially lively preposition.  My favorite, I guess.  Cats—wild and domesticated—find refuge UNDER a rock formation or UNDER a table.

Under CAT


Under PRAIRIE DOG UTAHSome animals live UNDER the ground or UNDER the water, but pop UP to visit.


Some look UNDER water for lunch.


If you are so inclined, you could hike UNDER arches and natural bridges, such as Angel Arch (Canyonlands National Park, Utah) or Rainbow Bridge (Lake Powell, Utah).

angel 3

UNDER rainbow bridge

At Christmas, my dog’s favorite place was sleeping UNDER the Christmas Tree, waiting for Santa and hoping Grandma might drop some of the candy she hid UNDER the Christmas tree skirt.


Under UMBRELLA 1Under UMBRELLA 2Of course, one of the best views is being UNDER an UMBRELLA.  My favorite Umbrellas were displayed by Christo as an art exhibit along I-5 UP the middle of California.  Christo placed yellow umbrellas in California and blue umbrellas in Japan, creating a temporary international art exhibit back in October 1991.  The umbrellas were on display for several weeks—a piece of art you had to experience at the time because it would not last.  To learn more about the Christo’s Umbrellas, you can view my earlier posts:  Christo’s Umbrellas: A Look Back and Christo’s Umbrellas: The Japanese Route.

umbrella and fauna

This post is my response to Sunday Stills, The Next Challenge: The Letter “U.”  To see the other responses, visit here.

The Hope of Spring

“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.  The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”  Henry Van Dyke


Today is the Vernal Equinox, the official start of Spring 2015.  Where I live in California, the weather has been great lately—the 70s and 80s as the highs—and blossoms are bursting forth across the city.  I realize other parts of the country might be colder and gloomier, but it is still the start of spring.  So take heart!  Embrace the change, the hope, promise and expectation of spring.  As Margaret Elizabeth Sangster said, “Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.”

IMG_4960When I ran errands the other day, I captured some of the blossoms that were evident across the city.  Even brought a couple inside to brighten the living room.  What signs of spring are you seeing in your neighborhood?




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“Man needs, for his happiness, not only the enjoyment of this or that, but hope and enterprise and change.”  Bertrand Russell

“It’s spring fever. . . . You don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  Mark Twain

“Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways.  The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.”  Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’”  Robin Williams

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”  Zen Proverb

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”  Anne Bradstreet

“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”  Percy Bysshe Shelley

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.”  Bern Williams

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  Doug Larson

“Spring has returned.  The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”  Rainer Marie Rilke

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt,”  Margaret Atwood

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”  Hal Borland

“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!”  Sitting Bull

“No matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.”  Sheryl Crow

“Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!”  Wallace Stevens

“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.”  Geoffrey B. Charlesworth


“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.”  Ruth Stout

“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”  Harriet Ann Jacobs

“An optimist is the human personification of spring.”  Susan J. Bissonette

“Spring is when life’s alive in everything.”  Christina Rossetti

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.”  Gertrude S. Wister

“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.”  Henry Beecher

“Earth laughs in flowers.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Flowers leave some of their fragrance in the hand that bestows them.”  Chinese Proverb


A Good Use for Drones! Really. Watch the Video


When you hear the word DRONE, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Internet Image

Internet Image

For me, it is danger, invasion of privacy, drone strikes meaning killing. Calling a drone a UAV—unmanned aerial vehicle—does not undermine the negative connotation.  In fact, I bet many might guess the “A” in UAV could stand for “armed.”   An article in The Guardian explains that more and more countries are trading or selling drones for military use.  That fact is not comforting.

When I went online and plugged drones into a search engine, most of the top options that appeared were to buy them along with some info on Do-It-Yourself Drones.  Sure, there are people who buy the kits available online for benign uses such as flying over parks and such, but even those can create problems or be used for wrong-doing.  Most drones are used for military and civil applications like policing, firefighting and security surveillance, and they are used for missions that are too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for manned operations.

My general sense has been that drones are a technology that has more potential for problems than solutions, a technology that has already been used too often with deadly results.  One article—“How to Stop Worrying and Love Drones”—says the technology does not warrant the stigma that is attached to it.  Apparently part of the negative reaction to drones is the general qualms most people have about change of any kind.  One idea shared in the article is to make drones even more commonplace by getting kids building them in science classes, so drones can be better understood and appropriate use can be part of the process.

Noble goal, but I am still skeptical.  I guess I am one of the 63% of Americans that—according to a PEW Research survey—worry an increase in personal and commercial use of drones would just make things worse.

Then I saw this video.  It shows a great use of drones to help in the fight against poaching elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns.  It is a great experiment by the Charles A. & Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation that works to balance technology and the environment.  This specific project is called Air Shepherd and uses drones to track and stop poachers.  And the pilot program has been a success.  I am thrilled Air Shepherd is working to help elephants and rhinos.  In fact, I plan to donate to the foundation to expand this project into more countries.  But in the broader sense, Air Shepherd is also a great reminder that it is never the technology, the tools, that are either good or bad, but the people who put them to work.

SORRY:  This video has been removed from viewing, even though I can still see it on Facebook.  Here are two different links that should get you to the video on the use of drones to fight poaching:  One via IndieGoGo and the other via Facebook.

I applaud the people at the Lindbergh Foundation and especially those working on Air Shepherd.  They have given me hope, even in the face of drones flying overhead.  That is a change I can embrace!  If you are interested in making a donation to Air Shepherd, visit IndieGoGo.

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“Technology is just a tool.”  Bill Gates

“New technology is common, new thinking is rare.”  Sir Peter Blake

“Technology . . . is a queer thing.  It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.”  C. P. Snow, 1971

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”  Albert Einstein

“This is perhaps the most beautiful time in human history; it is really pregnant with all kinds of creative possibilities made possible by science and technology which now constitute the slave of man—if man is not enslaved by it.”  Jonas Salk

“The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.”  B. F. Skinner, 1969

“The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.”  Antoine Saint Exupery, 1939

“We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster.  We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”  Carl Sagan

“If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”  Omar Bradley

“Historically, the development of machines had amplified man’s ability to destroy.”  Edmund Cooper

“The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.”  John Naisbitt

“Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don’t need to be done.”  Andy Rooney

“Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams, but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love, and understanding.”  Louis Gerstner, CEO, IBM


In Praise of Orange

Years ago, on a leadership trust retreat when I was serving as a dean, the group had to play some silly trust games and then be told what our leadership colors were.  I don’t remember mine—green or blue, I think.  What I do remember is that a vice president in the group from a different college (thank goodness) was a real jerk—competitive, self-serving, little evident respect for his team.  From my view, he was loud and obnoxious as well.

His color was identified as orange.  You know, like fluorescent orange traffic cones.  He was pegged as loud, aggressive, and demanding.  That assessment was probably true about him—he seemed like a real jerk to me.  But it was so demeaning to the color orange.

napping catrobinAlthough orange is often noticed in the natural world—from my view—it is assertive not aggressive.  It is very natural, heartwarming, energetic, even strong and forceful.  The psychological associations with orange include strength, resilience, optimism and spontaneity. Those qualities make sense regarding the color orange, since orange is the color of southwest vistas, spring flowers, fall leaves and gorgeous sunsets.  Here are a few photos to prove my point about how special orange is!

Saugaro NP Rincon & West 325

I’ve shared my views on the color orange before.  This post is my response to the Daily Challenge: Orange—click here to see the other responses to this challenge.

butterfly in orange flower

in a vase

poppiespoppies golden valley

rose and bud



Saugaro NP Rincon & West 066

striped flowers

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Oregon Sunset

Oregon Sunset


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“’I feel a little dizzy,’ said Orion. ‘But also wonderfully elated.  I feel that I am on the verge of finding a rhyme for the word orange.’” Eoin Colfer

“I can throw an orange like a baseball, but I can’t eat a baseball like an orange.  Let that be a life lesson for you.”  Jarod Kintz

“If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable—each segment distinct.”  Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Green, Green, Wonderful Green

water lily vista

“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.”  Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Fallen TreeI know Kermit says it’s not easy being green.  And I commiserate with him and his plight.  But in the natural world of plants and trees and vistas, green is really wondrous.  No matter what season, green is always present, covering mountainsides, supporting flowers or standing tall among the trees.  Basically, green—although occasionally jumping out on its own—is the ever present “wind beneath the wings” of the rest of nature.


Tree Twisted Trunk“Be like a tree in pursuit of your cause.  Stand firm, grip hard, thrust upward, bend to the winds of heaven, and learn tranquility.”  Dedication from Father of the Trees

“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.”  Martin Luther

“When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy, and the dimpling stream runs laughing by; when the air does laugh with our merry wit, and the green hill laughs with the noise of it.”  William Blake

Oak Grove Carmel CA


Jedediah Smith State Park 2

“On and on they flew, over the countryside parceled out in patches of green and brown, over roads and rivers winding through the landscapes like strips of matte and glossy ribbon.”  J. K. Rowling

Roadside Hwy 1 Northern CA

redwood path

Horse in Gorman Hills

“When I go out into the countryside and see the sun and the green and everything flowering, I say to myself, “Yes indeed, all that belongs to me!”  Henri Rousseau

cactus orange flowers



orchids“April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks GO.”  Christopher Morley

cactus white flower

yellow flower

water lily

young aspens

Gorman Hills

This post is my response to the weekly challenge by Sunday Stills.  See all the other responses here.

Several years ago, I also championed green and its presence in our world in a post called God’s Favorite Color.

Plumb the Depths

hawkWhenever I think of the word depth, I automatically think of depth perception and its application in photographs and paintings.  Depth perception adds that element of reality, gives three dimensions to a two-dimensional presentation.  The depth is what allows us to see the horizon, to focus on not just the surface or immediate object but the big picture as well, to capture a glimpse across the miles that suggests an ongoing reality.  With depth, the photographs seem to become more than just a moment captured in time; the depth suggests an endless quality, an ongoing view into tomorrow.

Arches National Park, Utah

arches national park

 Big Sur Coastline, California

big sur coast

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

bryce canyon national park

Crescent City, California, Lighthouse

crescent city lighthouse

Grand Canyon, Arizona

grand canyon squirrel

Monument Valley, Arizona

monument valley 2

Rainbow Bridge, Lake Powell, Utah

rainbow bridge lake powell

Yosemite National Park, Glacier Point, California

yosemite glacier point

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Of course, the same basic idea of depth applies to people as well as photographs.  Some might suggest it is through the eyes that we can see the insights, the dimensions within people that make them more than their outer appearance. But depth of character is more fully seen through words and deeds, through the consistent, continuous repetition of the qualities that matter, that help move beyond the superficial or occasional. Depth of character shows the truer broader sense of what each person is all about, highlights the qualities—demonstrated over time—that deem someone worthy of being a lover, friend, leader, hero.

Plumb the depths wherever you find them—vistas or people—for it’s in that dimension that the beauty of life and relationships exists.

Treasure it when you find it!


 “Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”  Peter Adams

 “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”  Albert Camus

 “And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”  Khalil Gibran

 “The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed.”  Jiddu Krishnamurti

 “It’s our challenges and obstacles that give us layers of depth and make us interesting.  Are they fun when they happen?  No.  But they are what make us unique. And that’s what I know for sure. . . I think.”  Ellen DeGeneres

“Success comes from taking the initiative and following up. . .persisting. . . eloquently expressing the depth of your love.  What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum toward success in your life?”  Tony Robbins

“It is not length of life, but depth of life.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Depth of friendship does not depend on length of acquaintance.”  Rabindranath Tagore

“The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.”  Leon Trotsky

“You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.”  Evan Esar

“We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers.”  Carl Sagan

NOTE: This was my response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth.  Visit here to see how other bloggers responded.

WHITE IN ALL ITS SPLENDID VARIETY (One Word Photo Challenge: White)


weddingWhite is an intriguing color.  At times, it seems easy to overlook or use as a neutral background against which other colors will stand out.  Symbolically, white is often associated with innocence and purity, hence it’s the favorite color for wedding dresses.

rainbowWhen we consider bright white light—like sunshine—science tells us that white is actually all colors combined.  Sir Isaac Newton demonstrated that fact in 1666 when he charted how white light—when shown through a prism—refracts into the full color spectrum of the rainbow.  White is obviously more complicated and mysterious than first thought.

white featherStill, when I think of the colors of Nature, white is not the first one that comes to mind.  I more readily envision a blue, blue sky or the rich greens of trees.  Flowers typically come in many colorful varieties as well:  purple and yellow and red and all the shades in between. But when I stop to really look, white is out there.  More vibrant and alive, given the contrast with the other colors.  Sometimes it is strong and massive like snow or fragile and delicate like a wildflower in bloom or a feather floating in mid-air.

When I stop to really look for the power and energy of white out in the real world, I see that it is out there, almost everywhere I look.



Clouds 3

Bryce NP, red rock canyon 137

moon rise


mt shasta

grand tetons

more cotton


falls in yosemite 2

falls in yosemite 1






Bosque de Apache outside Albu 226


white pelicans

gull close

peacock 2 tail


cactus blossom

calla lily bud





smal white sprig

small wild white

water lilies

white two

wild white

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“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.”   Erma Bombeck

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air as a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.  Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

“Who in their infinite wisdom decreed that Little League uniforms be white? Certainly not a mother.”  Erma Bombeck

“ELOQUENCE, n. The art of orally persuading fools that white is the color that it appears to be. It includes the gift of making any color appear white.”  Ambrose Bierce

“Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all.  White too. Their color is absolute.  It is the perfect harmony.”  Coco Chanel

“The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.”  Lao Tzu

“Sometimes we need the fog to remind ourselves that all of life is not black and white.”  Jonathan Lockwood Huie

This post is my submission for the One Word Photo Challenge: White.  Don’t forget to view all the other entries!  I also really like green and orange.  What is your favorite color?

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