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November 2013
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Friday Poetry: Poetry by Marianne Moore

I, too dislike it: There are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.

Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in

it after all, a place for the genuine.

Hands that can grasp, eyes

that can dilate, hair that can rise

if it must, these things are important not because a


high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are

useful. When they become so derivative as to become unintelligible,

the same thing may be said for all of us, that we

do not admire what

we cannot understand: the bat

holding on upside down or in quest for something to


eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless

wolf under a tree, the immovable critic twitching

his skin like a horse that feels a flea, the base-

ball fan, the statistician-

nor is it valid

to discriminate against "business documents and


school-books"; all these phenomena are important. One

must make a distinction

however: when dragged into prominence by half poets,

the result in not poetry,

nor till the poets among us can be

"literalists of

the imagination" - above

insolence and triviality and can present


for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them,

shall we have

it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,

the raw material of poetry in

all its rawness and

that which is on the other hand

genuine, then you are interested in poetry.

Christmas Poetry: The Journey of the Magi, by T.S. Eliot

"A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of year

For a journey, and such a long journey:

The ways deep and the weather sharp,

The very dead of winter."

And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,

Lying down in the melting snow.

There were times we regretted

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling

And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,

And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,

And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly

And the villages dirty and charging high prices:

A hard time we had of it.

At the end we preferred to travel all night,

Sleeping in snatches,

With voices singing in our ears, saying

That this was folly.


Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,

Wet, below the snow-line, smelling of vegetation,

With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,

And three trees on the low sky.

And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.

Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,

And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.

But there was no information, and so we continuted

And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon

Find the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.


All this was a long time ago, I remember,

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we led that way for

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With alien people clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.

Friday Poetry: The Buzzard, by David Hodges

Awkward, hunched, high up

among bare branches,

sharp-taloned hunter,

reliving the day's

missed chances,

staring downwind

through the icy landscape,

sifting images of prey:

nothing misses

his sharp eye.


Bright sunlight catches

something moving

out of cover,

and in an instant

he's a blur of feathers,

pure killing machine

transformed again

in his awesome

hunting flight.

Friday Poetry: The Zebras, by Roy Campbell

From the dark woods that breathe of fallen showers,

harnessed with level rays in golden reins,

The zebras draw the dawn across the plains

Wading knee-deep among the scarlet flowers.

The sunlight, zithering their flanks with fire,

Flashes between the shadows as they pass

Barred with electric tremors through the grass

Like wind along the gold strings of a lyre.

Into the flushed air snorting rosy plumes

That smoulder round their feet in drifting fumes,

With dove-like voices call the distant fillies,

While round the herds the stallion wheels his flight,

Engine of beauty volted with delight,

To roll his mare among the trampled lilies.


2013 Thanksgiving Tucson Trip Day Three 11/26/2013

We decided to take this day to visit the Kitt Peak National Observatory. It is about a 1.5 hour drive from Tucson on highway 86. The observatory is set in quite a dramatic setting. The mountain drive up to the Observatory is very interesting and winding. There are ample pull outs to stop and take photos. There is no charge if you want to visit, and to do the DIY tour. There is a charge for the guided tours. We packed a picnic lunch, and had a picnic at the Observatory.


Kevin at the entrance.




We were lucky to be able to go and view the sun.


 This photograph below is of the solar scope. I loved the shapes.


I took this photo below and converted it to black and white. I thought it looked sought of arty.


and more...




Like I said, very arty!

Afterwards we drove back towards Tucson ending up at the San Xavier del Bac Mission and Church just as the sun was setting illuminating this beautiful church so that it glowed in the desert.


Inside was beauiful...


and look at this gorgeous ceiling...


and this detail...





2013 Thanksgiving Tucson Trip Day Four 11/27/2013

Wednesday 11/27/2013 it was overcast and cool. We decided to visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens in urban Tucson. This is a small facility with a butterfly house. We had nice overcast weather; great light for photography. Admission is $13 per person.


"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."


I loved the cactus garden.


There are many other interesting parts to these gardens - a beautiful herb gardens, native american crop gardens, butterfly gardens.

The greenhouse where the exotic butterflies were held was hot and humid. We left our coats in the car prior to entering.


You had to tread lightly.


 Butterflies are so beautiful.


The greenhouse contained some gorgeous orchids.


We ate our picnic lunch at the Gardens and then decided to go and visit the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.

We really enjoyed this. There is no charge.


This is truly remarkable personal gallery of the local artist DeGrazia (died in the 1980's.) I remember his images from christmas cards that I remember from my childhood.


I loved the chapel that he built on the premises.


Look at this glorious interior.


Here are images of the artist's home...




We ended up photographing the sunset at Gates Pass.




2013 Thanksgiving Tucson Trip Day Two 11/25/2013

The next morning, Tuesday 11/25/2013 we had a nice hot breakfast at our hotel, the Best Western Innsuites on N Oracle drive and decided to head out towards the Saguaro National Park (West) and to the Desert Museum. We had read good reviews about the Desert Museum. It is more like a zoo than museum. Cover charge is $20 per person, and it is well worth it. We ended up spending about 4 hours wondering the grounds.


 There is an annual pass per family of $75 per year.  We found the docents to be knowledgeable and informative. I found out about scorpions, and the harris hawk. We had a very good siting of this mountain lion sitting in the sun. Good kitty.


There were a number of animals I had never seen before: javelinas and coati. Javelinas are NOT pigs (although they sure look hog like to me. Coati's are related to ferrets, but these reminded me of large bear-weasels.

The museum is nicely laid out with concrete winding walkways. The bushes and plants are nicely labeled. And of course there was this saguaro home to a little bird.



I loved how the sun was backlighting this cholla. I had to take the photograph.


This bobcat was fascinated with a squirrel (off picture.)


This litte gray fox was curled up in the sun. My favorite exhibit was the hummingbird aviary.


It was such fun to sit down on one of the benches and watch and listen to the little hummingbirds buzzing around. Hummingbirds are such amazing little creatures.


We shared a burger at the local eatery on the premises. Time flies when you are having fun. Then we decided to go into the National Park and do a quick orientation, as we still had some light. The visitors center consists of restrooms, and a watering station. The visitors center shop and information center has good maps, and you can talk to the rangers to get advice.

We left the Visitors Center and hiked on three short trails to get a sampling: Valley view trail. We spotted a deer amongst the cacti and saguaro's.






We spotted the petroglyphs on the Signal Hill hike.


And photographed the sunset at the Desert Discovery Trail... P1090158

We ended up back at our hotel after a very satisfying Day Two.


RIP Nelson Mandela, Tata Madiba, 1918 - 2013

The news of Nelson Mandela's passing at the age of 95 has flooded the news outlets and social media. It brings back memories. I remember watching his release. No one knew what he would look like. We hadn't seen any recent images; all we had were images of him in his youth and prime. I remember that I was in Pretoria when I stood in line waiting to vote. What an electric time. We had no idea whether there would be violence at the polls, or whether the country would erupt into civil war. Tense times. I remember watching his inauguration. I remember feeling that I needed to escape to the streets outside. To feel the celebration, the joy. I ran out into the streets of my neighborhood in Pretoria. What a feeling! Heady times. South Africa needed a leader, needed greatness. We were lucky we got both: a leader and a great man. Without President Mandela's leadership I firmly believe that we would have had civil war. Do you remember Madiba attending the World Cup Rugby final? Do you remember feeling that this was our President! Black, white, brown, pink = President Mandela belonged to us, the people.

I am deeply saddened by news of his passing. The world seems a smaller place now that he is no longer in it. He will be deeply missed. I will never forget.

Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. - Nelson Mandela


Friday Poetry: The Rain in the Veld, by Oswald Mtshali

He dripped like an unpreened cat

tossed by a prankster's hand

into a tubful of icy water

chilling the bones and setting

the marrow into an unsalted broth;

licked the laughing lips

jellied by cold mucus

flowing from an unwiped nose.

To be a youmg capering cowherd

with an empty billy can buckled to the belt

and driving a homeward bound herd

of robust cows with hides steambathimg

blood gorged ticks, and frisking calves with

nostrils spurting steam jets, O! so cavorting carefree.



2013 Thanksgiving Tucson Trip Day One 11/24/2013

As we do every year, around this time of year, we love our road trips. This year we decided to visit Tucson. We had initially decided to drive, but the weather turned nasty and we worried that we would get stuck in it. So we decided to do something completely spontaneous, and thanks to last minute travel dot com, we had booked a flight, a rental and 5 nights in a hotel in Tucson. I had a momentary panic attack as we booked everything on Friday night, with scheduled departure on Sunday. I called everyone - hotel, and rental to make sure that they had received the booking.

We flew down early Sunday, arriving in Tucson midday after a bit of wait for our connection in Phoenix. The flying time to both Phoenix and Tucson is relatively minor, and both airports are small and manageable.

Once we gotten our rental at the Tucson International Airport we got our bearings (Tucson is nicely layed out on a grid system, and is quite easy to find one's way around) and decided to drive the Mount Lemmon scenic by way. We had read that it was a very nice drive.


 On the way up the road twists and turns with a number of pull outs to photograph the views. As you climb in altitude the countryside changes from desert with cacti to a more alpine ecosystem.


 We stopped frequently and took photo's. As we made our way up in altitude the climate changed to a magical winter wonderland.


It was truly quite something to see the change - quite something.


We spent the afternoon exploring the Mount Lemmon Scenic by way. We returned to Tucson in the early evening, and checked into our hotel.