Monthly Archives: September 2015

A Few Words

Still no words. I have been sitting here for more than an hour, typing and deleting sentence after sentence, trying to come up with a way to describe my experiences these past two weeks, visiting some of America’s most beautiful National Parks. It’s hopeless. I’m still on the road and I need to get some sleep. Here are some more pictures.

The Petrified Forest

The Petrified Forest


The Painted Desert

The Painted Desert


Landscape Arch in Arches National Park

Landscape Arch in Arches National Park


Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park


Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde


The Scary Ladder ( yes, I climbed it)

The Scary Ladder ( yes, I climbed it)


Our wonderful tour guide at Balcony House in Mesa Verde National Park

Our wonderful tour guide at Balcony House in Mesa Verde National Park


Long View from Balcony House

Long View from Balcony House


Kiva Ladder, from outside the Kiva

Kiva Ladder, from outside the Kiva


Kiva ladder, from inside the Kiva

Kiva ladder, from inside the Kiva


In the Sun Temple, Mesa Verde National Park

In the Sun Temple, Mesa Verde National Park

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No Words

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imageWhen you wait your whole life to see something, you have huge expectations. You are a little bit afraid that nothing could possibly live up to them. Let me tell you now, the Grand Canyon does not disappoint. It far exceeds anything I could possibly imagine. When I first saw the canyon, I gasped and then I wept. So much beauty! There are no words, so I’m going to stop trying to find some. I will add pictures, but they don’t come close to doing it justice. If you haven’t seen it, you must get out here. Listen to me; don’t wait your whole life to see this.

Jeans

I didn’t really mean to wait until the day before my vacation to go shopping for new jeans. I tried to start the quest earlier. A couple of weeks ago, I needed clothes appropriate for jury duty. I was spending time in department stores, looking for plain black pants. It made sense to look at jeans while I was out and about. It made sense, but it was depressing.

Jeans aren’t jeans any more. When I want new jeans, I want five pockets, straight legs and one hundred per cent cotton denim. Dark blue denim, not faded or stone-washed and certainly not already worn out. Why in the world would anyone want to pay good money for jeans with holes in them? I can wear holes in them all by myself, thank you very much. And don’t even get me started on embellishments.

So I looked at jeans a couple of weeks ago, but my real goal was to get black dress pants and that was a whole lot easier, so I gave up on the jeans. I had time. I had weeks. Surely there would be better hunting after I fulfilled my obligation to the judicial system. That’s what I thought.

I kept putting it off. I remembered a previous jeans-shopping trip when I tried on twenty-four pairs of jeans without finding even one that fit. I didn’t want to face it, but I needed new jeans for this vacation. There will be canyons. There will be deserts. There will be hiking. My old jeans were getting so frayed, they were almost trendy. I’m an old lady; I don’t wear trendy jeans.

This morning, I set out. My usual first stop on a quest for jeans is the local thrift store. Manufacturers don’t seem to make classic jeans any more, so I try to find them gently used. I drove to the thrift store, but it was closed. According to the hours posted on the door, it should have been open, but there was another sign on the door, a handwritten sign that said, “Store is closed.” Succinct. Undeniable.

I was forced to move on. To a real store, with actual new blue jeans. Two stores. The first store had some interesting knit pants, but not a single pair of jeans that I even wanted to try on. Not only did they all have spandex in them, they were all “skinny.” I don’t do skinny. I did buy some knit pants, in a size I couldn’t believe was really my size. The brand runs small, that’s what I’m saying.

Fortunately, the next store had jeans. They even had some with straight legs and some that were boot-cut. I was thrilled. They’re not perfect jeans. One pair is too long and the other pair has odd pockets. Both pairs have a tiny bit of spandex in them, but neither pair is frayed or slashed or faded or skinny. I called it a successful shopping trip and hurried home to pack. Yes, I washed my new jeans first. I don’t want to be hiking those canyons in jeans with odd lint patterns where the size stickers were.

One More Painting

I couldn’t stand it. I just couldn’t stand it. It had been weeks since I had even tried to paint anything and I was starting to feel as if I would never do it again. I opened up my Sta-wet palette and it had stayed wet enough to smell musty. Should I just dump the whole thing and start over?

Well, yes, I should have but the paint was still wet, doggone it. I didn’t want to start over. If I started over, I would get bogged down in preparations and never paint. I didn’t want to never paint. Never painting again seemed like a real possibility at that point. I had wet paint. I had tiny canvases. I had a back yard with plants in it. Somehow, I would paint something.

First, I grabbed a large brush and slapped some light green paint on a tiny canvas. Then I washed that brush and changed into my painting clothes (which are also my tie-dyeing clothes) while the green paint dried. I took my moldy palette, a container of water, a paper towel and two small brushes out to the back yard, along with the now-dry canvas.

I looked around. My husband had cleared the overgrown garden patch I had painted a few weeks ago, but there were still some of the tiny red flowers on the fence. I decided to paint a couple of those, along with some of the heart-shaped leaves. If I tried to pull up a chair, I would not be able to see the flowers I wanted to paint, so I decided to paint standing up. It was a tiny canvas. How hard could it be?

Pretty hard, actually. I didn’t have a table, so I ended up putting the palette and the container of water on the ground. Yeah. Bend down, grab some paint; stand up, brush the paint on the canvas. Squint at the flowers. Squint at the canvas. Bend down again, grab some more paint; stand up again, brush some more paint on the canvas. And so on, in the heat, for about an hour. It may look as if I slapped it together in ten minutes, but I didn’t. This tiny painting took some time.

Tiny Flowers

Tiny Flowers


Sigh…
This is what desperation looks like. It’s still better than never painting again.

Jury Selection

This has been an interesting week. The most interesting part was the part where I reported for jury duty. The summons said, “Herein fail not,” so I made sure to show up well before the required time of eight o’clock in the morning. I had to drive downtown and park in a garage, which is not something I do very often, so I was nervous before I even got to the jury assembly room. That is one huge room that holds hundreds of prospective jurors in rows and rows of chairs, with giant television screens every few rows.

Each jury summons had a badge with a bar code on it and we were asked to tear these along the dotted lines and put them into plastic sleeves that would hang by strings around our necks. These badges were scanned at every step in the process, to make sure they kept track of everyone who was called. We had to listen to an introductory speech and watch an introductory video. After that, they asked everyone who had a medical reason they could not serve to raise their hands. These folks were called out of the room to talk to someone about their issues. We were told to save their seats because eighty per cent of them would be back. It’s not easy to get excused from jury duty.

I didn’t even try. I’m self-employed and my hours are flexible. I’m willing to sit on a jury if I am asked to do so. I even went out shopping on Sunday and bought new clothes. I used to have professional attire, but that was ten years and fifteen pounds ago. Since I became a tie-dye artist, my every-day uniform has been jeans and a T-shirt. A tie-dyed T-shirt. Not the sort of thing one wears for an appearance in a court of law.

I sat there in basic black and waited for my name to show up on the big screen. The first judge asked for eighty-four people. I was number forty-five. I figured it was good to be in the first group called that morning. Maybe I would get through the process and out the door before lunch.

Not exactly. The judge needed to choose twelve jurors and two alternates. He requested eighty-four people because the case he was trying was a serious case. A capital case. It was going to be a long day. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t want me for their jury because I am absolutely opposed to the death penalty, but that was not the first question they asked. It was not the second question, either. They had to ask eighty-four people a whole lot of other questions before they got to that one.

I had plenty of time to think about how I would respond to that one when it came. I considered it carefully, trying to imagine all possible scenarios, and I was still sure that when it came down to it, I would not be able to vote to recommend a death sentence for anyone. The law of the state of Florida may allow for a death sentence but I believe I am required to live by a higher law and that one requires non-violence.

They asked us to be honest. They asked us to rate our feelings about the death penalty on a one-to-ten scale, with one being, “I would not vote for it under any circumstances,” and ten being, “I would always vote for it in a capital case.” There were plenty of sevens and fives and twos. There were some eights and nines. There were a couple of tens. I was, of course, a one. What surprised me was that there were quite a few other ones.

My county is known to be a conservative county and I’ve heard that conservatives tend to favor the death penalty. I guess it makes a difference when people have to search their deepest souls and decide if they’re comfortable with blood on their hands.

It took a day-and-a-half for these lawyers to choose a jury. When we showed up Tuesday morning to continue the process, the tens were already gone. In the end, so were the ones, which did not surprise me. I was happy to be excused. I have always wanted to sit on a jury, but not when the defendant’s life is on the line.