Germany – Man vs Nature – Ornate Designs

It is a WordPress Photo Challenge and the topic is Ornate. Man has challenged Mother Nature.


Mother Nature presented this work by Jack Frost who embellished this Campanula flower with spikes of white crystals.

metal scrollwork on wood

Man replied with this intricate metal scroll work on carved wood at Residenz Wurzburg in Germany.

tree branch

Mother Nature fired back with the work of Sylvia Spider who embellished some dead spruce needles with a fine web thread. Jack Frost then highlighted each element with a sparkling series of frozen droplets.

inside church

Man said “Go big or go home” and presented the lavish decoration of the inside of Zwiefalten Abbey in Germany.


Mother Nature confidently turned once more to Jack Frost and said, “Show them a close-up look at frost crystals.”

Who will win this Photo Challenge? The choice is up to you!

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is: Ornate.

Border between Hence and Thence – Fence and Border Photos

Boundary, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of another.
– Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary –

zig zag white linesArizona – Reflection of a fence – the boundary between wet and dry.

One time there was a picket fence
with space to gaze from hence to thence.
– Christian Morgenstern –

tree overlookRestraining fence at the Grand Canyon – when common sense isn’t enough…

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
– Robert Frost –

reflection trees goldenArizona Sunset – the border between day and night.

I like that time is marked by each sunrise and sunset whether or not you actually see it.
– Catherine Opie –

This week’s Photo Challenge – Boundaries

From Chaos to Order – Photos of Grids

Grid refers to a framework of spaced lines that are parallel and may also cross one another to form a series of boxes, normally squares or rectangles. It can also refer to a network for distributing power.

Grids have the power to be visible, as seen in these photos. But they can also be less obvious, to downright invisible – like the layout of text and photos in a magazine or the composition of a photograph or piece of art. Grids are all around us – how many can you see from where you are sitting?

To see these Grid Photos at their best, click on one of the photos to open a slideshow. To close the slideshow, press your ES-Ca-pay button (or the tiny ‘X’ on the top left of the screen).

When the Great Fire of London destroyed most of the medieval city in 1666, Christopher Wren was invited to design a new one. Within days, he had drawn up an elegant grid of broad boulevards leading to majestic squares, but it came to nothing – the existing landowners wanted things as they had been.
– Norman Foster –

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is: Grid

Maytag Matilda – A Horse From Every Angle

The Photo Challenge this week is to look at a subject from different angles. I’ve chosen a Horse sculpture that stands in Plaza Fountainside, Fountain Hills, Arizona.

This horse, a mare, is called Maytag Maltilda. She weighs  5,000 lbs, stands 9 feet tall and  is 11 feet long. The fabrication artist is Dixie Jewett. In her workshop in Dayton, Oregon, Dixie pieces together bits of metal and garage sale finds to create one of a kind masterpieces.

To see Maytag Matilda at her best, click on one of the photos to open a slideshow. To close the slideshow, press your ES-Ca-pay button (or the tiny ‘X’ on the top left of the screen).

People respond to her work, Jewett feels, not only because the sculptures look so amazingly lifelike and animated, but also because “they can identify with all the little bits. They’ve got stuff like that at home.” She vividly remembers the reactions of one couple. “The wife was amazed by how realistic and alive the horse looked. Meanwhile, her husband was up close to it and said, ‘Wow! A ’57 Chevy headlight!’”
– Norman Kolpas, Dixie Jewett – Horse Sense, Southwest Art –

The story of Dixie Jewett’s life is interesting, though difficult to piece together. The Southwest Art story referenced above is the most complete rendition of this remarkable woman’s life, but is a scant one page. I hope someone writes a more complete biography some day, because it isn’t often that an Alaskan Bush Pilot/renowned welding artist is a woman!

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: From Every Angle

Grand Canyon – Half and Half Vistas

Many of my photos of the Grand Canyon attempt to show the immense size and depth of this geological wonder.  The photos below, however, capture the half and half balance between rock and sky, or rock and trees. To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about this aspect of composition when I took the photos. The WordPress Half and Half photo challenge made me go looking for photos, and this is what I found:

place tower clouds Grand CanyonDesert View Watchtower on the south rim of the Grand Canyon – this really is a half and half photo, isn’t it! Did you know that a woman, architect Mary Colter, designed this building? It was completed in 1932.

place tower clouds Grand CanyonDesert View Watchtower – really more of a thirds photo with sky, rock and trees.

place trees Grand CanyonSouth rim of the Grand Canyon – the foreground is one half, and the background is the other.

place trees Grand CanyonSouth rim of the Grand Canyon – a diagonal half and half split.

When a man retires, his wife gets twice the husband but only half the income.
– Chi Chi Rodriguez –

When you hear the expression half and half, what do you think of?
For more photos that interpret this WordPress Photo Challenge, see Half and Half

From Arizona to Alberta – Grand Canyon

In the foothills of the Mazatzal Mountains in Arizona, the cool night time air has a moderating effect on the heat that climbs up from the desert in the valley. But as spring progresses, the heat becomes more intense earlier and earlier in the day. When we start to think it would be a good time to check out how the air conditioner is working, we know it is  time to leave the desert and head north to Alberta.

So we packed up our Jeep and began a long and scenic journey home. The Car Guy was confident that the Jeep GPS System would guide us, but he packed a paper map book just in case. He had a number of maps to choose from, but selected the one put out by Harley Davidson because it highlighted the most scenic routes… for motorcycles.

Early in the trip, the Jeep GPS declared a distaste for conventional routes, as if to say, “I am a Jeep – I want to feel the rocks and mud beneath my feet- I reject these surfaces you call pavement…”  We were not keen on traveling from Arizona to Alberta by dirt roads, so I consulted the map book that The Car Guy had packed and chose another route.

Jeep was not enthusiastic about this twisty, winding motorcycle friendly road, and didn’t hesitate to tell us:  “Make a u-turn if possible. Make a u-turn if possible. MAKE A U-TURN IF POSSIBLE!”  When Jeep eventually accepted we weren’t turning around, it’s digital read out erased the road as we progressed, as if to say, “I do not approve of your choice. I will hide this road.”

By the end of the first day we had arrived at the rim of the Grand Canyon. The main viewing lookout was packed with tourists from all over the world. Most of them had their cell phones mounted on sticks so that they could document their ‘trip of a lifetime’ with selfies. We noticed, however, that our shadows were clinging to a rock face a short distance beyond the safety of the guard rail – so I took a shadow selfie.

There are no words to describe the Grand Canyon. If you have never been there, go. If you have been there before, go again.  If you are there during tourist season, go early in the morning, or near sunset – there are fewer people.

… Nothing prepares you for the Grand Canyon. No matter how many times you read about it or see it pictured, it still takes your breath away. Your mind, unable to deal with anything on this scale, just shuts down and for many long moments you are a human vacuum, without speech or breath, but just a deep, inexpressible awe that anything on this earth could be so vast, so beautiful, so silent.
– Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent –

Side Note on the Trip from Arizona to Alberta:

The Google estimate for driving time between our Arizona home and our Canada home is about 23 hours. Factoring in several stops on the Canadian side of the border for Tim’s Iced Capps; one border crossing; refueling for us and our vehicle; offloading of waste; sleeping; sight seeing, etc – the trip takes us 3 days.

And two nights. In the hotel breakfast room on the second morning, I should be able to remember what room number we are staying in. 211? No that was the exit for lunch. 225? No that was the exit for Dairy Queen, wasn’t it? 205? No, that was the mileage from Idaho Falls to Butte…

I miss the days when you got a key with a number on it…

Do you trust your GPS, or do you still depend on your paper maps?

Finding Sea Glass at British Columbia Beaches

Brown and White Sea Glass – I found these tumbled and weathered pieces of glass on beaches in and around Vancouver, BC, Canada. They were originally brown and white bottles that were discarded twenty or so years ago. Green glass is also fairly common.

Other colours of glass are not that easy to find, but if you have a rock tumbler, you can make your own weathered looking glass: Making Tumbled Glass.

If you would like to learn more about sea glass, click on this link: Sea Glass Journal.


This weeks WordPress Challenge is Weathered.

Why There are Back-seat Drivers

This is a story that started out with the Monarch Butterflies in my garden. I learned a bit about them and their remarkable journeys. It seemed quite natural then to discuss human journeys, directionally disadvantaged navigators, and why there are back-seat drivers.

An Arizona Monarch Butterfly

Some humans are remarkable navigators. Others – not so much. I call these people ‘directionally challenged’. Unlike a butterfly that can find the way from Canada to Mexico with only the sun and the stars to guide them, certain people are lost by the time they drive past the edge of their neighbourhood.

My spouse, The Car Guy, is moderately directionally challenged. The invention of GPS navigation has been a godsend for him. He has a friend, 3P, who is both directionally challenged AND has failed GPS 101. 3P can get lost when he ventures past the end of his street.

We discovered this on a recent road trip where 3P was the driver, and The Car Guy was the navigator. The ‘wives’ sat in the back seat of the vehicle. Neither wife realized that the spouse of the other would have difficulty finding the local mall, let alone executing a road trip that involved more than one left turn.

The driver’s vehicle had a GPS system. The Car Guy had a map and another GPS system. Both men, however, were unaware that the other had a navigational deficit. Both assumed the other knew the route and would, in fact, navigate when needed. Within half an hour, they had not only erred with the first few critical turns in the road, they were, in fact, heading back towards home.

That is why some people, usually wives, become ‘back-seat drivers’. They aren’t nags -they are navigators!

Do you have a ‘directionally challenged’ driver in your family?

Fly Air New Zealand – Safety Video, Bear Essentials, Epic Safety (Videos)

There are two critical points in every aerial flight—its beginning and its end.
— Alexander Graham Bell, 1906 –

Trouble in the air is very rare. It is hitting the ground that causes it.
— Amelia Earhart, 20 Hrs 40 Mins 1928. –

You land a million planes safely, then you have one little mid-air and you never hear the end of it …
— Air Traffic Controller, New York TRACON, Westbury Long island. Opening quotation in the 1999 movie Pushing Tin –

The QuipperyDon’t you wish all airlines were so creative!?

Beery Best of Canada – Molson Canadian Beer Fridge (Video)

Happy Canada Day to Canadians everywhere!

Savage Chickens beer

The website ‘Beer Canada’ mentions these statistics about beer:

Canada has many competitive advantages in making world class beers: proximity to malt barley, large fresh water supply, educated workforce and more than 10 million local beer drinkers.


Per capita consumption of Canadian and imported beer was 63.34 litres per person based on total population. At the provincial level, consumption is highest in Newfoundland at 77.32 litres per person. Beer is Canada’s most popular adult beverage and the Canadian beer industry continues to hold an impressive environmental record. On average 99% of beer bottles were returned in 2015.