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The Adventure Turns Out to be Life

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When I started this blog, I really had no idea how to do it. I just wanted to promote our art and share it with those who might appreciate it. Now, I’m reading books about blogging, and it is even harder than I expected. Everyone says to write about your passion. Unfortunately, I have many. Among them would be creating my art, reading, spirituality, cooking, nutrition, activism, grammar and fitness. That’s the short list. And it’s not just what do I write about, but how do I plug in the time to do it while actively pursuing all that stuff. I create, I write for the local paper, I’m writing a book, I teach yoga and strength training and I have a home, a husband and two dogs. Since I believe in eating close to the source, I even make my dogs’ cookies. (Not their food, though.)

I thought I was crazy busy when I was raising my kids. Little did I know. And as I age, I’m not able to do as much as quickly as I once did. Add to that the fact that time compresses as you age and you understand my conundrum. I really would like some thoughts on this one.

Meanwhile, I’ll just start writing and see what happens. I might even have to have another blog, but again, the question is, how? Well, I will need one when the book is complete. But that’s a different problem altogether.

I do think I have some wisdom to impart that was acquired while becoming human. It takes time to become a fully functioning human being. Some never get there. That’s pretty evident when you watch anything on the television. It seems the world is going to hell in a hand basket–and if you know what that means, you know my age. But, my heart tells me there is more good in the human race than bad. We just have to look for it. I see it every day on the faces of my people in class. I see it in the posts of ordinary people on Facebook. I watch as ordinary humans help one another make it through this life a little more easily. Just look a little more closely and you’ll see it too.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have to be vigilant. Greedy opportunists are busily raping the planet until I fear for future generations. And outspoken activists are busily trying to undo the damage. Let’s hope we have time. It begins with us. I guess that’s the message I want to send out there. It begins with you. You were born into a free-will universe. You make the choices that determine your path. You have to stand up and be counted if you want to change anything. What do you stand for? What do you believe is important? How can you help? Can you speak up? Can you sign petitions? Can you donate? Can you actively help your fellow humans? Of course you can. You get to choose. You always get to choose. And that’s the adventure you came here to experience. Life. Wonderful, joyous, beautiful, full, voluptuous, exciting, interesting life.

Never forget that it’s short–make the most of it. Don’t fill your life with regrets. Get out there and enjoy it. Find joy in it. Joy is hiding in plain sight around every turn in the road. Be grateful for that joy. Do other animals experience it? Maybe more then we do. I know my dogs experience it. I see it every time we take them for a run in the desert. I believe it’s one of the things they live for. That and food.

Maybe that’s the answer. I can write about joy!

Adventures With Grandkids

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I promised I’d write a post about the visit of the ankle biters. Well, one of them is a little older than that, but still young. They are both males, but with really different personalities. That’s how it goes with kids.

The youngest had never met us, but that didn’t seem to be a problem as long as we acted like loving humans, which how could you not do? They were lots of fun, but I’d quite forgotten what young ones were like to entertain. We gave them art stuff and took them on adventures and everything worked out fine. I now have pictures on my fridge done by both of them. Now, that’s art.niles family

So, we loaded up food and the two dogs and the boys and headed out! Dogs can be more unmanageable than boys, but they really were quite good on this trip. I worried about all of them getting too close to the cliffs, though.

I am including a photo of this adventure: the Devil’s Fire, or as some call it, Little Finland. By either name it is totally awesome. The trek to it is a bit daunting, but neither of the boys had to be carried. As we approached the hills, the boys (Finn and Jude) noticed white staining on the rocks, so I taught them how to lick rocks (I’m not too sure mom appreciated that) to tell what it is. In this case it was alkali or salt. They got quite a kick out of licking rocks! Me too, for that matter. The desert is full of alkali areas, so they can lick rocks to their heart’s content.

We climbed to the top where the really special stuff is and right-away showed them petroglyphs on the very rock they walked upon. These glyphs are probably as much as 10,000 years old. I can’t even imagine that span of time. And to think humans were here then is awe inspiring.

I look for special rocks and twigs whenever we are out as I use them in my art. We found Moki marbles for the boys–round bits of sandstone rock. I have many of those, as well as chert and round rocks and just rocks I love. That would be most rocks. I figure we have about 50 ton of rock on our property, and aside from the landscape rock, we’ve carried it all in–from little to large. Needless to say, they had rocks in their pockets when we got home too!

It was great to have them here, and it seems they liked it to! Now we look forward to the next great adventure with them.

And A Happy New Year

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jewelry 9-14 041While I never make New Year’s Resolutions, I’m making one today. I plan to pay more attention to my blog with stuff I hope will be helpful. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I set this up, but I know more now. Although this is an adventure, art blog, I hope to redefine those terms for you and myself because I am finding that just being alive is an adventure.
Life is full of wonderful, exciting experiences. We have such a beautiful planet and so much to be grateful for. My focus will be on this. So, if you’re reading this blog buckle up for a fun ride.
Blessings for the upcoming year!

The Business of Art Revisited

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I told you that I’d be relaying information gleaned from my attendance at Dixie University’s “Business of Art” seminar. Mostly I was frustrated and disappointed. Perhaps it is because I only attended the Saturday portion, which focused on painting and photography. The sessions about Facebook and Instagram did contain some useful information, though. But I wanted to know about marketing our art. Not much of that was discussed.

I want to know how to market art because I live in a small retirement community. Well, Mesquite didn’t start out that way. In 1878 farmers came to the area hoping to make it home. But when torrential rains hit in June of 1882, dams were broken and families displaced. Finally, in 1887 Dudley Leavitt and his wives settled what was then called Mesquite Flats. They, too, were forced to leave because the Virgin River flooded them out. It wasn’t until 1897 that Mesquite was finally settled for good.

Yep, this is the desert. But if you watch the national news, you know that recently we had rains that undermined I-15. The damage was so extensive that the road had to be closed and traffic rerouted. It forced drivers to drive through The Valley of Fire, a real hardship–not. That is some of the most beautiful country in the world. The following picture was taken outside Valley of Fire, but this is what you’ll find there.

red rock for blog

There are videos of the rain we had recently, so I’ll try to figure out how to insert a link for you. Even learning how to blog is an adventure, as I’ve come to realize.

Meanwhile, back at the seminar. While I did get a smattering of info about Instagram, I’ll have to go onto my smart phone, set it up and then give you the lowdown. I did get a real feel for how sharing photos on Instagram can be useful to marketing your art.

Then there was the Facebook portion of the day. Basically, I learned that I have to have a Facebook fan page for our art and then make albums, tag relevant network contacts, invite others into my network, share albums, boost posts, watch insights, share, use links and friend and like all relevant people that can help boost views. With that in mind, you have to remember that it is a business page, and not for personal sharing.

I have created a fan page, but have lots more to learn about it. I will share that here too. For me technology is one great adventure.

Next comes Christmas. I promised to make gifts for everyone, but time is getting short. I do have earrings and spirit dolls already made, so I’m somewhat ahead of the game. Here’s a picture of some earrings.

earrings for blog

I find I really enjoy creating them. Leather has become a new fabric for exploration. Love it. It, too, is repurposed from furniture store samples.

I will next be talking about an adventure with my husband’s grandkids. Ankle biters–three and six. So, stay tuned.

 

Been gone a long time from this blog

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So sorry to be absent so long. I will be returning with new adventures in art. The next great adventure is a conference called, The Business of Art. I will post what I learned, so stay tuned for some hot tips. And, I’ll post some new jewelry and art objects. I’m learning to work with some new media, like rocks! We recently did an art festival in Kayenta, Utah. Although it wasn’t as successful as we’d hoped, the location is awesome–red rock, sand, cactus! We worked hard to provide new art for sale. Randy made wooden jewelry boxes! They were beautiful. I am also making spirit dolls for comfort and support. Here’s one. Well, I tried, but I’m on my iPad and it is hinkey after the latest update. I’m going to try one more time from my computer.jewelry 9-14 041

We Survived the Grand Wash Bay Death March

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Death Hike

I’ve been absent awhile–crazy busy with work and art and family, but I’m taking a few minutes to share an adventure with you that was pretty scary at the time.
We have some German friends that we take into the desert when time and opportunity permits. We’ve always taken them to places that we have scouted out first and have run out of those, so Randy decided he wanted to see if we could get to the river from Lake Mead.
Several years ago, this would have been impossible without a boat, but the lake is down by more than 100 feet, so it isn’t anything like it used to be. There’s actually a sandbar you can cross to reach a point where you can see the river.
We first unloaded at a spot we could hike from, set up and ate lunch. Then we headed out across dry (or not so dry) lake bed, thinking we had about two miles in and two miles out. That’s what google earth showed, anyway. Turns out to be way more miles than any of us had anticipated.
Let me interject here: our friends are 70 and 73 and we are 63 and 62–not young ‘uns anymore, but not cause for alarm at the beginning of the journey. They live at the edge of the desert and take long walks when temperature and weather permit. But, neither had hiked for several summer months.
After crossing the lake bed, we encountered an area overgrown with Tamarisk trees or bushes really. These monsters were imported for erosion control and have taken over the water ways throughout the southwest, choking out native vegetation and destroying native habitat. Well, they nearly destroyed us.
After we fought our way through the bushes, I and the Germans decided we didn’t want to see the river afterall. Randy suggested we cut across and then head back along the lake shore, as it looked easier. Looks can be deceiving.
Randy headed for the River and we cut across the old lake bed completed congested with Tamarisk.
Part way through, I discovered that our male friend had mild diabetes and didn’t have any water with him. He began to stumble and fall and I began to get worried. In hindsight, I sould have insisted we go back, but it seemed like this was an easier choice–turns out we were caught between a rock and a hard place.
We often encounted areas where there was still water and fisures where the mud had dried and shrank up. Let’s not even talk about the branches that grabbed, tore at and tripped us up.
About two-thirds of the way through, I started to get really concerned for my friends. I made haste to the shore where Randy waited for us. Bu now it was four o’clock in the afternoon with only one-and-a-half hours to dark. Randy took off for the car and flashlights and water and we trudged along the shore.
Our friends were already exhausted and out of water, but there was nothing to do but carry on. The terraine was so rugged that I knew we would never make it out before dark and I was worried about getting the 73 year old diabetic out. He had fallen many times. And his wife was complaining about cramps in her legs. She, too, had no water.

I moved to the head of the pack and scouted easier routes for them, all the while getting more and more scared. Not of wild animals, nor of spending the night in the desert, but of losing our way or of my friends giving out. As night fell–thank god we had a full moon, the way got harder and I felt lost in the wilderness.

My friend shook his head and said that we were going to die out there. I don’t remember ever feeling that way because I knew that Randy would find us, but I just didn’t know if we were where we should be. Finally it got too dark to carry on and I knew we needed to stop and stay put if we were to be found that night.

My friend insisted we walk 300 more yards and it’s a good thing we did. Over the crest of the hill I could see a light coming our way. Until that point, I didn’t even know if we were headed in the right direction. Once Randy reached us with water and lights we headed out again, my German friends supporting on another and Randy and I leading the way. There we three huge ravines to cross and an uphill climb to reach the truck, which Randy had pointed out way and left running.

My trust in my husband was rewarded, but I’m not sure my friends will ever want adventure again, and I can safely say that I don’t want that much adventure either. The truth is that we could have died out there. One of us could have fallen and gotten seriously hurt.

Please, if you head out on a hike, make sure you are prepared for anything that might happen. And listen to your gut. If I had, we would have turned around and been safely at the truck long before nightfall. As it was, we hiked at least 6 miles in unforgiving terraine. Amazing what you can do when survival is at stake.

This is What Real Adventure is About

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Wow! I’m finally settling in from our camping trip to the Maze in Canyonlands. For those of you who don’t know where that is, think of the four Corners area of Utah. It is incredible big sky country and the most remote place in any National Park in the U.S. of A.

Start out at the ranger station with eight trucks loaded to the max and 20 passengers, then head down the Flint Trail for the Doll House campgrounds. It only took us 12 hours! That should give you some idea of how difficult the trail is and how remote the location.Image

But boy was it worth it. We spent 5 days in camp–days of leisure, hiking and fun. Mostly fun. But, being a bit of a princess, I like real accommodations, like indoor plumbing and sheets. We slept in a tent on an air mattress that couldn’t seem to keep air. My wonderful husband did provide a heater for the shower water and an enclosure. But the main toilet was outside behind a rock.

The park service has new regulations. With the dry weather, the fire hazard is great, so no fires. That means not charcoal, and that means no dutch ovens. Propane stoves only. We pretty much cooked everything at home and sealed it in cooking bags. But it was still great!

We traveled by truck to Chimney Rock and Indian Cave and then hiked. This is a picture of Chimney Rock. Awesome doesn’t even come close. This is created by erosion from wind and water.Image

My greatest breakthrough came on the way out. Because the climate is so dry, the fallen juniper trees twist themselves into wonderful, evocative shapes. The bark is shredded and textured to look like scales, so I saw dragons everywhere and wanted to bring one home, but no–illegal. But those wonderful dragons inspired me to create some from polymer clay and fabric. They are still whirling in my head awaiting creation. I’ll post one when he’s done.

Here are a couple more photos for your pleasure. Check out the big sky country.Image

This next photo shows what the area Surrounding the Doll House is like. Enjoy the photos, we enjoyed the trip.

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