Posts Tagged ‘cactus’

Thorny Neighbors

I call this saguaro Old Man. I found him while walking a wash near my daughter’s home here in Tucson. He fell over and bit the dusk not too long afterward. — Photo by Pat Bean

Saguaros come in all sizes and shapes. Is it my imagination, or do you think this one is giving the finger to the low-flying balloon. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr

Heat’s Up in Tucson

A cholla cactus in bloom. — Photo by Pat Bean

The temperature was 115 here in Tucson yesterday. Yuck! You need to be a cactus to survive in this weather, I think.

And then I remember that in 1956, I moved to the Texas Gulf Coast and didn’t have air conditioning for the next 10 years. How I survived, while changing cloth diapers (four kids in five years) continually for seven of those years, I have no idea.

I guess deep down I’m as tough as a cactus. Or once was. My outdoor adventures currently are confined to walking Maggie in the early mornings when it’s still a bit cool. She just gets taken outside long enough to do her business after that.

And a barrel cactus. — Photo by Pat Bean

Anyway, it seemed an appropriate day to post some of my cactus photos. I hope it’s cooler where you live.

Bean Pat: One of my favorite blogs is Brain Pickings. And I especially like these words of Albert Einstein, which seem especially appropriate these days. http://tinyurl.com/ydhxg629

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“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. To “Why am I here?’ to uselessness. It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus” – Enid Bagnold

These cactus made me think of John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulder Makes Me Happy." -- Photo by Pat Bean

Where Ideas Come From

I was asked this morning where I get my writing ideas.

It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this, and I still stumble over the answer.

This morning, my inspiration for my blog was a walk through a desert landscape filled with many varieties of cacti.

Within 100 yards of leaving my daughter’s driveway, I had seen half a dozen different varieties. Their differences set off my brain on a path of comparing the cacti to the people I know. Tall and short like Mutts and Jeffs; sunny like the blooms on a barrel cactus or especially thorny like the cholla; open to life, like the saguaro’s wide-stretch reach to the sky, or closed up like a low-growing hedgehog cactus.

Perhaps it was this old dead saguaro, looking much like an old man reaching for the sky, that was the real inspiration for today's blog. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I saw a large prickly pear cactus that glowed pink around its edges. It made me think of someone like myself, who prefers to look at the world through rose-colored glasses.

The truth is my writing ideas come from everywhere, at least the starting point. If I’m lucky, as I was today when I went searching for a quote to go with today’s blog and found Bagnold’s great one, I get a bit of inspiration that will tie my thoughts into something more meaningful.

Then there are days when I sit down to write about one thing and end up writing about something entirely different. It’s as if my fingers on a keyboard take charge.

I suspect that unless you’re a writer probably none of this makes any sense.

Oh well. That’s the writing life. Some days you communicate, and some days you don’t.

Bean’s Pat: Wistfully Wandering http://tinyurl.com/dxb8xhp Alice Springs. This blog was my choice for today because it is a place that is calling for this wandering/wondering old broad to visit.


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Have you ever taken the time to look into a deer's eyes. Perhaps you should. -- Photo by Pat Bean

”  Though it sounds absurd, it is true to say I felt younger at sixty than I felt at twenty.” — Ellen Glasgow, “The Woman Within”  

Travels With Maggie

 There have been many thrilling minutes in my life. When I was young, I watched my babies breathe in and out as they lay asleep, and felt the grasp of their tiny hands around my fingers. Each of their achievements – from taking their first steps to bringing home their first paycheck, made my heart sing with joy.

After my babies had flown the coop, I was free to chase other thrills, like rafting the grand canyon, going on a safari in Africa, and even jumping out of an airplane. It would not be unfair to say that I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie.

But when I took my dog Maggie on her walk this morning, I felt more alive than I think I have ever felt before.

The sky was full of puffy rose and lavender tinted clouds that let one know the sun had risen even if it wasn’t visible this overcast day. A cool breeze stirred the hair on my bare arms, but I wasn’t cold. The caress on my skin felt like a gentle lover’s touch, one I never wanted to stop

The purple buds on this mailbox cactus appear to be straining for warmer weather so they can burst forth in joyous blooms. -- Photo by Pat Bean


I wasn’t alone in my enjoyment of the moment. The coolness gave Maggie, now 13, a briskness to her steps that, like mine, have begun to slow. She walked with ears flapping in the wind, and her short cocker-spaniel tail, straight up, a signal to the world that she’s in charge.

I was vividly aware of everything around me, the cedar waxwings crowding the leafless branches of an oak tree, the straining purple buds on a huge cactus in a mailbox planter, the eyes of a deer staring at me as I approached and a single dandelion in a winter brown yard.

In my younger days, I would have probably only seen the deer, and even then would not have taken the time to look into its eyes and make the connection I did this day.

While a few of the older female writers I’ve been reading lately, like Diana Athill in “Somewhere Toward the End,” spend too many of their words bemoaning what age has taken from them, I have nary a complaint.

With age has come acceptance of myself, deeper understanding of how the world works, and the wisdom to know that the simply things in life can be as thrilling as getting to the top of the mountain.

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The Women's Museum and the statue that prompted a question.

“There’s something that’s been bugging us Texans. And it’s time that we set the record straight … There ain’t no saguaro in Texas. It’s not the kind of cactus we’ve got.” Rev. Horton Heat


It’s always been my belief that every question deserves an answer. So today I’m going to answer the one from a reader who commented on the photograph of a statue that went with my Jan. 10th blog about the Women’s Museum in Dallas.

The statue features a woman atop a huge saguaro cactus, and the question was: “Do saguaro cacti grow in Texas?” Honky-Tonk comic singer Rev. Horton Heat says; ”No.” The plant experts agree, but with an addendum: No wild saguaro grow in Texas.

You might be able to forgive Rauol Jossett, the statue’s creator. He was a native Frenchman, who carved the plaster and cement statue in 1935, just two years after immigrating to the United States. Perhaps he got his idea from western movies of the period that featured huge saguaro in their supposedly Texas backdrops. Or maybe he copied the idea from other artists whose work depicts the huge armed cacti in their Texas landscapes.

No wonder Horton Heat wanted to set the record straight.

The Centennial Building and another of Raoul Jossett's giant ladies found at Dallas Fair Park

But now that I’ve answered the reader’s question, let me tell you what else I learned in my research. The Women’s Museum statue is called “Spirit of the Centennial.” It was created as part of the renovations to turn a 1910, double-duty stock coliseum-by-day/music-hall-by-night building into an administration building for Texas’ 1936 Centennial Celebration.

The model for Jossett’s sculpture was Georgia Carroll, the lead singer for the Kay Kyser Band. She later became the band leader’s wife and an actress. She just died earlier this month.

The administration building was converted into the Women’s Museum in 2000, and is located in Dallas’ Fair Park, where a stroll through its Texas sized, 277-acre grounds can turn up six other giant-sized ladies created by Jossett. Let me know if you find them all.

Meanwhile, I love questions. Anybody else with one?

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