Seven Days In the Life…

Challenge: One(or two) black & white photographs from your daily life for each of seven days. No people. No explanations. You may challenge yourself at any time.


Visiting The Wyoming Dinosaur Center

A year and a week ago, we visited the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, and just had to go back.  I always tell people my nine-year old is “a bit of a dinosaur enthusiast,” which, while true, is an understatement, and ignores that both his father and I are even bigger nerds about it.  I mean, how often do you get to see the actual feather imprints of dinosaurs?!?

close up of Microraptor fossil with feather imprints visible
Microraptor (early Cretaceous, China) with feathers on both upper and lower appendages. Wyoming Dinosaur Center

This year, after spending the night in Thermopolis, WY…IMG_4215 in our favorite hotel (warm cookies in the lobby in the evening) and running along the boardwalks and suspension bridge that criss-cross the World’s Largest Hot Springs, we headed over.

I kid you not, the music playing as we walked in was the same as what my husband and I walked, together, down the aisle to: Bach Cello Suite No. 4 Sarabande  (What a gift to have Nils Bultmann play at our wedding.)  I was geeking out and tried hard not to get overwhelmed before making it to the main room this year.  No luck.  It is such a phenomenal collection of specimens from the beginning of life on earth.  So much of what is on the floor is the real fossil, not casts or models, and it is mind-boggling. True, it has amazing, huge specimens of Supersaurus (“Jimbo” for those in the know) and Camarasuarus, but everything here is amazing: Stromatolites, first arthropods, fish, plants, amphibians, reptiles and on and on and on.  Absolutely worth the two (or eight, or 14) hour drive.

It’s a small museum, absolutely packed with incredible fossils. It has the most complete fossil archaeopteryx on display in North America,IMG_4272 (2)

(although The Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta has a replica of the Berlin imprint/fossil that is indistinguishable from the real one.) I made it up to a stony, fossil skeletal lystrosaurus, “the most humble badass of the triassic,” before I couldn’t absorb any more.

I handed the camera over to my six-year-old and the rest of the photos are hers.  I love seeing her view of things.

Rhamphorhyncus, Late Jurassic
The framing. Definitely a child of mine.


Supersaurus in the middle, Camarasaurus rising in background


Go see for yourselves!!

One night and a hike in Sedona

We spent just enough time in the charming Sedona last week to make me wish we lived there.  We started the morning in Phoenix and drove north to visit Montezuma Castle National Monument, or rather two of us did and the one with pneumonia and I drooped our way back to the car and drank juice and coughed until it was time to go.  I got just enough of a look to be amazed, and realize any pictures I took made it look like a doll house in the rocks. Guy overheard a teenager lie to his sister that this was Montezuma’s summer home.  *snort*  

We drove on through Jerome (more on that coming soon) and finally made it to Sedona just in time to be crushed to realize The Red Planet Diner is no longer.  We mourned the loss of Space Junk, the entree, then found a worthy replacement at MoonDog’s Pizza.  Granted, we were starving, but I’m still pretty sure the pizza and ancho chicken sandwich and spaghetti were great.  I wanted to ask the owner if he was Moondog, expecting some old hippie, and was grateful I didn’t….because we heard a pack of coyotes singing and chattering three times that night and I put it together.  Aha.  Moondogs are coyotes.  See, here, we hear a couple coyotes do a low howl now and then, but the moondogs in Sedona have a LOT to say.  Especially at the full moon.

Moonrise over Sedona

Even after a night filled with coyotes, snoring, and two coughing kids, we were sufficiently reenergized by breakfast at Nick’s to go on a short hike before the day heated up.  We headed to Boynton Canyon in a designated Red Rock Secret Wilderness of the Coconino National Forest to hike the Vista trail for the supposed vortex at the end.  We’ll take all the good mojo we can get for the Peanut. Perfect for us.  Gorgeous and restorative, and only one of us needed a piggy-back ride back to the trail head. We’ll go back again and hike some more of those beautiful red rocks for sure.


After a roadside picnic, we piled back in the car for a drive along Oak Creek Canyon, a thirteen-mile stretch I remember well from the first time my husband and I drove it; I was pregnant and the curves and the dizzyingly close canyon walls were intense and nauseating.  This was a much easier drive.  We stopped at the canyon rim and got a chance to get out and look back….and promise to come back again soon.  Thanks, Sedona!




Dinosaurs of Arizona

The other main reason we went to Arizona last week was to see dinosaurs.  The dino-philes amongst us had heard there were some fine Triassic fossils, models and murals spread throughout Arizona.  Some of us researched how and where to see every last dinosaur and dinosaur-like creature in the state.  We also brought some of our own and showed them around.

Now, my kids were beyond bored with the amazing facts about the Grand Canyon, including the that the top layer of earth there is Kaibab limestone, rock older than the dinosaurs.  As you proceed down the canyon, the rock gets even older, with the deepest part of the canyon being 1.5 Billion, with a “B” years old!! (Vishnu and Zoroaster formations. Geonerds, check out this awesome geologic map of Arizona. )

Of more interest was the rock formations left from the early and late Triassic periods (Moenkopi and Chinle) for the Postosuchus and the Coelophysis fossils they contain.  (That’s “crocodile from past” and a 10-foot-long bipedal, carnivorous early dinosaur.)

We looked high and low and this is what we found…

In Flagstaff’s Museum of Northern Arizona

In Petrified Forest National Park and the park’s Rainbow Forest Museum, Arizona


At the Museum of Natural History of Mesa

*What a gem of a museum.  The Dinosaur Mountain exhibit is several stories high and combines geologic layers of rock with animatronic dinosaurs, animal, and plant life from the corresponding age.  The flight exhibit was also a bit jumbled, but worth visiting.  Not pictured is the Dino Zone, a room for kids to touch, climb and explore around life-size models of  a stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and triceratops set in front of realistic background murals where my children spent more time than the rest of the museum combined, crawling in and out of a tube.  Because they were raised by animals.*

And then there was The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:


Some of us see dinosaurs everywhere 

May you too find dinosaurs wherever you look.

The Grand Canyon, April 2017

Ostensibly, this recent trip was about taking the kids to see the Grand Canyon….and they both thought it was a total dud.  I joked beforehand with a friend who had taken her young kids about the whining, “Moooom.  We’ve been here twenty minutes and haven’t even seen a condor yet. Lame.”  In reality, it was less than a minute, no lie, before my six-year-old daughter turned to me and said “I can’t believe we drove a HALF HOUR to see this.”  (Bless her heart.  We actually took a week vacation, a four hour flight and did five hours combined, driving, to get here…but still.)

I’ll put up lots more from our trip in the following days, but here’s some of the best pictures from our morning at the Canyon.  For your viewing pleasure, none of the wilting or whining or “mood enhancers” (Jolly Ranchers, handed out at desperate times,) are included.  But, there IS a condor!

I haven’t enhanced or filtered any of these, only cropping one and spot-removing grit form three images.  The colors of the canyon are muted in the morning and develop as the sun moves overhead.  If you’re not eight and/or hot, tired,crabby, or generally miserable, it would be amazing to stay the day and watch the colors of the rocks “change”.

No Xmas Cards

Are you flooded with catalogs already?  I am. It starts in October and turns to a deluge. Toys. Puffy vests. Plaids. Glitter. Shiny. It’s like a war-boy’s death approaches, all this chrome in my mail box.

After my fifth sample Minted card with foil-pressed letters, I’ve decided not to do Christmas cards this year.  They’re too precious.  Too ostentatious.  Gold foil??  I’d be delighted to receive such a beautiful card.  I love getting pictures of people’s gorgeous families, and especially love the ones where someone is not thrilled about being in the picture.  But I ‘m not wading through gallery choice of gold foil and glitter and the staging the perfect picture of my kids this year.

I’m not putting on our annual Solstice Spectacular, either.  Last year I tried to go small for the holidays and it still felt like too much.  Maybe it’s a bah-humbug kind of year, but I actually just have hope that it will be calm and lovely instead of garish and rushed and overdone.  Maybe.  There’s always a chance I’ll give up and lay down on a shelf in Target like the priest in the window on Easter morning in Chocolat.


What are holiday cards for?  Well-wishing for the season and new year?  Plus a little piece of something beautiful and peaceful?  Well, here you all go.  I hope you are well this holiday season.  I hope you find moments with your loved ones that make all the external noise disappear.  I hope you have time for hot chocolate and that you experience the joy and wonder that my kids do at the first snow.  And as for a little piece of something pretty, this is what caught my eye looking through this year’s pictures so far, in no particular order.  Enjoy and happy, early holidays.

Let’s Go For a Ride
Out for a run
First snow
Sunset with a beverage
To the Parthenon!
Big Sky Country
Sky Over Yellowstone in August




A girl and her millipede, out for a walk
Phi and Ox-Bow, somewhere over Louisiana
The Best of New Orleans
Just passing through


Traditional Crafting
“Did you see the famly of Ammonites on the Beach??”
May you find what you’re looking for this season and new year.


A New Lens

Courtesy, the kitten ( the older one, not the new oneOMGIhaveFOURcats!!!), uh, the camera was knocked off a counter and the lens broke.  The new one is Tamron 18-200mm (on my trusty Canon EOS Rebel T5.)  There’s something wonky with it, as the image jumps occasionally…but I haven’t had the time to take it back in and have it checked.  But it does have a further range than the previous one and I’m getting used to it.

After my temporary blind spot last year, I was hesitant to take pictures.  It just drew too much attention to this new weak spot.  However, my eyes now are as good as they ever were, and the new lens has gotten me a little excited.  Just a few here to show you what has been catching my eye lately.

The underside of ivy


Wish Doll


Sky above Strickers
Welcome to your CSA!
Went well with all that candy corn
Sutter’s Ridge


Gardens 2016

Truly, the wildest garden we’ve had.  Queen Anne’s Lace has taken over the wildflower garden.


If you can get to the hammock, you can sail in it.

And the Secret Garden

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Titan Sunflowers in the vegetable garden


Son of Wyatt

Volunteer pumpkin


A whole lot of weeds  cabbage, carrots, onions and tomatoes

But if you wade deep enough, you’ll be rewarded with blackberries!


Spring Gardens, 2016

First up, the Secret Sun Garden:


The lilac in the corner is one I planted our first spring in the house, 12 years ago.  IT has thrived and brought so much joy, but this year just didn’t come back. I cut down what I could in the hopes I could revive it….but this might be the last bouquet:


And this is what the Secret Garden looks like now:


Not as bare as I thought it would be, for the ivy that has covered the wall.

I got something really special this Mother’s Day.  My mom gave me a part of a lilac that has grown at all of my homes.  It was part of the hedge between us and our neighbors in Milwaukee, where I was born, and it was the first lilac at our home in Hartland, where we moved when I was eight.  Now, it has a new home in my own garden.  I didn’t think I was sentimental, but meet my newest, oldest plant (let’s call it Ingrid):

Ingrid blends in so well (she’s in the center), it’s like she was meant to live here.

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The kids decided the front planter shouldn’t be a dirt/rock pile for digging in this year, but a rainbow garden instead:

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Although the cat thinks this still makes suitable sunbathing spots.


The vegetable garden, meanwhile, is suffering from neglect.  Not that the rhubarb minds:

When I say “Take as much as you like,” I mean, really, take it.  And more.

I’ve just been ignoring it.  My youngest gardener got excited back in March when we had an early, false, spring and we put some seeds in,


but this is what the beds look like today:


Those are mostly “volunteers” in the beds.  Catnip, calendula, tomato, pumpkin, sunflower, parsley, chives, sage, mint, and dill have all thoughtfully re-seeded themselves.  The kids have plans for a fairy garden and they want to see which gets bigger, Sunzilla or Titan sunflowers.  They also want to harvest potatoes and onions again this year, have carrots, kohlrabi, and nasturtiums  to eat on the run but like me, they just don’t feel up to turning the beds over and planting.

This is the first year I haven’t had the vegetable beds planned out.  I usually have it mapped by February.  I guess we don’t need to run a one-family CSA every year.  Maybe what we already have and do is enough this year.

A Child Was Here

Is that a Jawa? Sticker? On the bathroom wall? With a whale, a pony, an alligator and a travel-size carry case? And all the toliet paper is gone? Yes.

It is pretty clear, at any given moment, that this is the house of children.  Every day, though, I come across something that makes me say “Evidence!” in a British accent to myself.  Warning—to those of you compulsive cleaners, this may be a trigger.  If so, come on over and pick something up.  No one will stop you.

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Someone was here, and it wasn’t me.
“I’ll just throw my sweatshirt wherever. Never mind what, or who, it lands on.”
“I’m looking for this one book.”
Everyone needs a fort
SOME things tend to order in this house.
“Well, did you look in the bathroom?”
“Mom, don’t touch my collection.”
Dinosaur. Royalty.
Taking our cues from Ramona
And more forts.  I think we might even be hosting a squatter.