Humor and other diversions

Originally, I thought today’s blog post would be my response to Chad Stafko’s snarky Wall Street Journal article about runners, Okay, you’re a runner. Get over it, but then I read Mark Remy’s hilarious response here in his Remy’s World column at RunnersWorld.com. So I’ll just share the links with you and tell you a different story, though it also has to do with emotions like anger and humor and other things integral in the aforementioned articles. Enjoy! I’m curious to know which article you relate to more.

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My day started off all wrong yesterday. I had gone to bed the night before anxious about an email related to some work I’ve been doing, and the emails started up again early in the morning. Confusing, long emails filled with the “my way is right” subtext.

By 8:30, my breathing was jagged, and my mood was, too. I knew I needed a diversion. I had the perfect thing in mind. Over breakfast, when I would normally be checking email or Facebook, I decided to cull my growing magazine pile and came across an article about an art installation at the local museum. An artist, Tom Shields, had put chairs in trees. You read that right. The magazine article included some great pictures, but this was something I had to see for myself.

I grabbed my camera and plenty of warm layers to combat the chilly wind and headed out the door. On the way to the museum, I bought a salted caramel hot chocolate. There are very few foul moods that a salted caramel hot chocolate can’t make better.

Here was my first look at the little patch of woods, a mini forest of sorts, where the chairs were. I knew they were there but wondered how close I would have to get before seeing them. The title of the installation is Forest for the Chairs, but at first, I was missing the chairs for the forest.

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The camera could see what my eyes could not. Can you see the chairs yet?

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A closer look

I felt like I had stepped in Wonderland, or an Escher drawing or maybe even Oz. Continue reading

If there’s confetti, it must be a party

I looked out of my office window on Monday and saw what looked like a party going on in my yard, with leaf confetti fast becoming a thick blanket of decoration:

Fallen leaves mix with the orange lantana remnants to create a medley of nature’s confetti.

The source of the confetti is all of our trees, lately having to decided to get with the autumn program, change color and drop leaves everywhere.

Just one source of the confetti in the yard

It’s like God is throwing a party and decorating the earth with brilliant colors to remind us of how beautiful life can be, even as winter looms.

Confetti for my artist’s date
Lately, I’ve felt a bit like the dried-up leaves on the ground, not the pretty reds and golds and bright oranges newly fallen and confetti-like, but instead like the crisped brown ones that crunch when you step on them and hitch a ride into the house on the dog’s feet.

I realized I’ve been ignoring my artist’s date, a term Julia Cameron defines in her book The Artist’s Way as a weekly solo date that she insists is essential for any creative person who wants to make creativity sustainable. So I decided to set out in search of more confetti for my artist’s date. And I knew exactly where to find it.

Continue reading

The skinny on the passion flower

Two of the most popular photographs in last week’s post were the frog and the purple passion flower. I was intrigued to learn from one of my readers that the passion flower got its name because its parts reflect the story of Christ’s crucifixion, (often referred to as Christ’s passion) including: the crown of thorns, the lashes Christ received, the three nails and the five sacred wounds, and 10 of Christ’s 12 disciples.

Another take on the passion flower

If you Google passion flower’s name meaning/origin, you can end up falling down a rabbit hole, which is pretty much what happened to me. I’ll link you to Wikipedia’s discussion, which has an interesting range of information about the flower, its name and its history. Continue reading

The enchanting garden

One of the days my husband and I were out in Oregon, he came back from his morning run very pleased. He had a surprise to show me on the campus, one that he knew would delight me. He wouldn’t tell me what it was, though, not wanting to spoil the surprise.

Let me back up a moment to remark on the beauty of the University of Oregon’s campus. Both my husband and I attended universities that were of a mostly utilitarian, bricks-are-best style, and while in Eugene, we found ourselves commenting again and again what a pretty campus it is.

While my alma mater has an arboretum near the main campus, UO’s website boasts that its campus “is an arboretum” (emphasis mine). To call it an arboretum isn’t a stretch, considering the rest of the campus description: “… with museums, libraries, laboratories, and lecture halls situated among over 3,500 trees of more than 500 species. Bring in the harvest at the urban garden, explore the nearby historic cemetery, or walk along the banks of the Willamette River” (Source). They’re not exaggerating about the nature that is an integral part of the university.

Back to the day my husband took me off our usual path through campus. Here’s where our journey took us: Continue reading

Training dogs that rescue … trees?

Spring is in the air, and for my part of the world, that means pine pollen is, too, turning the air and everything else a dusty yellow.

I can always gauge the level of spring fever by the number of tree and flower photos in Facebook status updates I see in a given day. Yesterday’s beginning of spring brought a profusion of blooms online. One friend posted a photo of a gorgeous bonsai tree blazing with fuchsia-colored blooms. Another posted a picture of Monet’s beautiful painting Spring (Fruit Trees in Bloom).

A third friend posted a link to a story about a pear tree blooming at the site of the 9/11 memorial. The tree had been found severely damaged among the rubble after the attacks, was relocated and nursed back to health, and then replanted at the memorial site. Isn’t it amazing that someone thought to bother saving that tree and now visitors to the site can see it as an offering of beauty and hope and nature’s resilience?

Let’s turn back to that pine pollen, for a moment, and some amazing dogs who are being trained to make sure pine trees stick around and keep on giving us their tangible, hopeful announcement of spring every year.

Auburn University is doing some really cool work in a project called EcoDogs that trains dogs to detect certain items of ecological interest: animal droppings, baby fawns, boa constrictors and even tree fungi. That’s right: tree fungi. Continue reading