June 16, 2017. Big changes often involve multiple facets fitting together. Such was our decision to go from a small travel trailer to a larger one. Not just the trailer changes. The tow vehicle must also change. And after months of planning, selecting, and financing our dream – one last essential piece about did me in: something called a weight distribution hitch that serves to help Blackie (truck) and Silvie (trailer) move smoothly together. Using friction to control sway – fascinating. A variety to choose from, but a strong preference for the kind we had with the small trailer (only bigger). Precise measurements of the trailer still sitting on the dealer’s lot an hour’s drive South proved elusive, highly frustrating in ordering the new hitch. A few cross words flew between the two of us piecing together our bits of understanding (and not!) of hitches and measurements … but ultimately all came together. And in the process, the weight distribution hitch emerged as symbol. Notice those chains. Ties that bind.
We’ll be rolling through Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, and New Mexico shortly. Trusting our hitch!
March 23, 2017. We recently returned to Rancho Lomitas in lower Texas near the Rio Grande border – an area with birds and plants that just don’t come further north. When there last fall, we took a photo of what we thought to be peyote growing along the roadside. To everyone’s surprise, the proprietors pointed out the distinctions between peyote and our picture of a star cactus – an endangered cactus that Rancho Lomitas is helping propagate in their nursery but had never seen growing natively on the ranch. Wow! This revelation came minutes before our departure, no time to revisit the star for more (better) pictures.
On this return trip, a high priority was finding that star cactus! Oh, did we look and look and look – walking slowly, eyes trained on roadside edge, up and down the stretch of road where the tiny star “had to be”. Well, maybe. Hours of looking yielded no star, but did prompt a poem. Afterward, a seasoned resident at Rancho Lomitas comforted us with the comment that rabbits do eat such (indeed the nursery samples are in wire cages) which leaves me eager to return again to photograph bunnies for an update to this collage. (Image note: fingers show a peyote the same size as the elusive star – star enlarged in center of collage – the two look alike to novice eyes.)
February 7, 2017. Still weeks till Spring’s official arrival. But given three definitive signs arriving in the span of mere hours, I am celebrating the distinct possibility that hard freezes are behind us.
The image below is a very startled young possum cowering on a shelf beneath the pet feeder after the Labrador and I discovered him – crouched in the food bowl munching happily, no doubt proud of his discovery of “easy” feeding – a perspective shattered by barking, lunging dog and camera flashes in the face. (Too dark to see the visiting cat but I know well the source of those howls. The robins didn’t stick around to pose.)
December 7, 2016. The world swirls with opinions, oppositions, petitions, all manner of unpleasant realities. I wrote this poem the morning after the November US election and set it aside till I could think more clearly. I keep humming to myself the last line of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “The Messenger” – I just want to see what’s next. Then and still, the view is murky.
November 28, 2016. We escaped just before Thanksgiving to the Rio Grande Valley, to look for green jays – a bird that doesn’t come much further north than that southern tip of Texas. We’d never seen one! Binoculars and cameras in tow, off we went. We stayed at Rancho Lomitas (http://www.rancholomitas.com/) – a native plant nursery with RV spots tucked here and there. Thanks to a long-term RV resident who feeds the birds, green jays were ever-present if not exactly sitting still for portraits.
On a tour of the nursery, I learned a new word – ramadara – that immediately began tickling the poetic lobes of my brain. This image is a collage of three separate jay photos which gives a sense of the thorn scrub they inhabit and their gregarious nature.
October 30, 2016. Over the past week, through all sorts of stress and disruption, I have been watching a morning glory vine protruding from a water bottle – sitting on my front porch to catch sunlight, I see it going in and out. That vine has kept me sane!
I guess the plant had to adapt, learn how to bloom in a bottle, as the first 3 buds to mature did not quite make it before dropping off. Then the fourth (pictured) and a fifth succeeded with flourish. Hoorah!
July 22, 2015. My partner and I have just completed a walkway that keeps reminding me of a poem I wrote back in 2011 when I was working on a similar walkway, using his favorite hoe to slice into the hard-packed ground and create a recess that could be filled with decomposed granite and limestone slabs. This poem was first published in the anthology di-verse-city 2012, © Austin Poets International, Inc.
The diamond hoe, a marvelous tool for weeding, was relatively new to us in 2011. It was his hoe, his constant companion in the yard, and I was reluctant to use it for fear I’d chip a point. He assured me it was the right tool for the job at hand (he was right) – and using it proved eye-opening in unexpected ways.
The image is a collage of the trusty hoe (unchipped through the digging of much rocky terrain) and the new walkway. Stepping on the walkway, I am mindful of his skill at placing the stones, our joint endurance at digging, hauling, and then filling without cross words. The work was hard. The walkway is a beautiful tribute to our togetherness, and it seems fitting to honor the hoe a second time around.