Category Archives: Musings

Summer Vacay 2015 Pt. 1 Phoenix

PhoenixHotThree things about our time in Phoenix. One. It’s hot in the summer. Hot. Every day we were there was over 110. Two. Everything is at least half an hour away from everything else. Three. Picking up old friendships is just like riding a bike. You never forget.

We spent a hot week  in Phoenix catching up with dear friends. Don and June. Their daughter Casie and our son Eric have nearly the same birthday so we’d shared parties and done life together when they lived in Austin (Yikes, twenty years ago!!). Though our visit hit at a rough time for them, June’s mom died two weeks before we arrived and they were closing on a new house, they graciously put us up and let us do life with them again for a week.

Barnes Dbacks gameSaturday we took in a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field with Don and June. Sunday we visited Open Door Fellowship Church in Phoenix. The pastors are authors of one of our favorite Bible study books, The Cure.

After that we met up with at restaurant and brew pub in Tempe to celebrate Father’s Day together Barnes and Herringsand finally meet their son-in-law Kyle and 9-month-old grandson Carter after following them through Facebook. Later in the week we cooked out at Kyle and Casie’s and took in a sunset parting with hopes they’ll all come to Austin sometime soon.

Taliesin West
Taliesin West

Since everywhere in Phoenix is a drive we narrowed down our touristy stuff to three excursions: Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home in Scottsdale, The Musical Instruments Museum, and the Phoenix Art Museum.

We started on Monday at Taliesin West which turned out to be so much more than the Wright’s winter home. It was home to the Taliesin Fellowship, a place for young architects to come apprentice with Frank Lloyd Wright. Much of the building was built by the apprentices who learned by doing. TaliesinWsculpture

Wright believed that creativity breeds creativity so he included music and dance as part of the training in order to teach architects about movement. Heloise Crista was an artist who came to sculpting through dance because of the encouragement, influence and mentoring of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship.

TaliesinWestApprenticeWhile the building itself demonstrates Wright’s usual attention to setting and detail in its design, the most inspiring thing about touring Taliesin West for me was the attention to the creative process that it represents, both in Wright’s personal philosophical vision as an artist and as a mentor. The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture continues at Taliesin West.

BiltmoreAZAfter Taliesin West we headed over to the Arizona Biltmore for lunch. Frank Lloyd Wright collaborated with former student Albert Chase McArthur in the design of the hotel which opened in 1929.

Tuesday Ted played TPC Sawgrass in Scottsdale with Don and Kyle. While the guys played golf I helped June go through a big bag of her mom’s costume jewelry. Of course I came away with some cool earrings.

On Wednesday we visited The Musical Instruments Museum, or The IMG_0829MIM, another monument to creativity. The desire to create music is so strong that all over the world for centuries people have taken available materials and fashioned them into musical instruments. I got a bang out of the gong. Only one per customer.

MIMUd15,000 instruments from nearly 200 countries are on display at the MIM. Visitors walk through geographically arranged displays wearing headphones to look at instruments while hearing them played. Among those instruments I’d never seen before but loved were the Ud, a Middle Eastern stringed instrument.

MIMSteinwayThere is also a musical history section which includes Johnny Cash’s black suit and guitar, John Lennon’s Imagine piano, and the first Steinway piano, made in Steinway’s kitchen.


MIMTedCasalsThen Ted saw Pablo Casals’ cello and the visit went to a whole ‘nother level. As a young music student Casals was one of Ted’s heroes. Ted’s teacher studied with  a colleague of Casals. Amazingly there was no glass or anything around the cello. We stood close enough to touch it as Casals music played through the headphones.


ArtMusJapMedRmThursday  we visited the Phoenix Art Museum. I’ve never toured a museum with a docent before. Our small group were treated to explanations about paint, techniques, style, history, etc. in a selection of works. She explained negative space using the pieces and their placement in this Japanese meditation space.
ArtMusGerome Our docent pointed out Jean-Leon Gerome’s Pollice Verso. Gerome did extensive research for his historical paintings, so much so that filmmakers came to museum to study this painting as a reference for creating scenes in the movie Gladiator.

The docent not only made the individual works more meaningful, but added to my sense of appreciation and wonder toward all the art I saw on my own that day, including the special exhibit on American Modernism.  I love finding a new artists I hadn’t noticed before. Now I really want to see more by Phoenix surrealist Philip C. Curtis whose works were featured at the museum.   Yayoi Kusama’s You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies is a walk through light installation in a mirrored room. It was awesome. Creativity seems to be a theme on this trip.

After a week in Phoenix we loaded up our rental car on Friday and headed north to Sodona, Flagstaff, canyons and cooler weather.

Things that stress me out

1. Yelling. Saying things louder doesn’t make them more true, more urgent, or more more important. I will respond immediately to yelling because I want the yelling to stop but my response is likely to be neither efficient or effective because the louder and more belligerent, the more I am shutting down. I recognize that what I interpret as yelling might merely be another person’s emphatic or frustrated voice, but I’m usually too rattled to distinguish that in the moment. I tend to remember being yelled at and sometimes will be overly cautious when the same scenario arises in hopes of avoiding a repeat of the yelling.

2. Meanness. Mean people suck. Hurting another person is neither empowering or intelligent. Whatever small, sick victory meanness may elicit in the emotions, the end result is destructive not only to the recipient but to the instigator of the meanness. I find it hard to trust mean people, even when they haven’t been mean to me. I tend to remember and regret the times I’ve been mean to other people long after they’ve forgotten about it.

3. Presumption. My time, energy, and resources are limited. I need my alone time and I see scheduling and availability as two different things.  I hate feeling set up by the question “What are you doing?” Just invite me to the specific event or experience and let me decide whether I’m in or out. Worse yet, don’t ask me that in front of the people involved so that saying no makes me feel like I’m rejecting them rather than declining to participate in the event in question.

4. Making phone calls. I like texting. I like letter writing. I like talking face to face. I don’t mind public speaking at all. In fact,  I rather like it. I enjoy communicating, but I hate talking on the phone and the worst is if I am the one who has to initiate the call.  I feel vulnerable, exposed, and trapped when I have to make a call. I dread it and put it off even I’m calling someone I love talking with in person. Even when it means something good for me if I just make the call. Apparently this is a legitimate phobia appropriately called telephonophobia.

5. Driving. I don’t mind road trip driving but city driving and especially driving in an unfamiliar area is really stressful. I will not drive aggressively. I think the fact that people are surrounded my a chunk of metal doesn’t not make rudeness less personal.  I drive like I would walk. I let people in, I wait my turn, I smile and wave.  I interpret honking as yelling. People who would never be mean face to face act really mean in cars. I don’t understand that.

6. Slow pace.  I do things quickly. I try to be efficient. I do the hard parts of a job first. I work before I play. When someone asks me to do something I will get it done but if that person stands there and tells me how to do it slower and less efficiently than I would do it if left alone it really stresses me out. “Take your time” is a really annoying phrase to me. My time is valuable I want as little of it as possible wasted.

7. Judging. A person’s worth is not determined by another person’s estimation of appearance, accomplishments, position, gender, status, failures, faults, actions, possessions, skills, talents, or intelligence. It stresses me out when I sense that what I have to say or offer is being dismissed because I’ve been judged unworthy in one of these areas. It stresses me out to see that done to another person.

8. Grocery shopping.  I don’t like trying to predict what other people at my house are going to want to eat. The  grocery store is usually full of slow people. They rearrange the shelves. All that food reminds me that I am fat and that I am going to have to cook (#9). Worst of all, I often have to surrender control over how my groceries are bagged. It makes me crazy if they pack like items into two different bags. I also don’t like it if I end up having to unpack five bags when everything would fit in two bags. I don’t care how heavy the bags are fill them up. Given I could write a whole blog just on this issue, I recognize that this bagging thing hinges on OCD, which is weird because I really am pretty laid back about most things. I’m pretty convinced that hell has a grocery store.

9. Cooking. Watching food cook is boring but trying to cook food fast usually results in burning it and setting off the smoke alarm. I’m not a great cook and I don’t enjoy it but I really love the approval that comes when the people I am feeding really enjoy the food I’ve cooked, so when the food is mediocre I feel like a failure.

10. Risk. I don’t mind a little physical risk like climbing mountains or jumping out of planes but I’m not a fan of social or emotional risk.  I don’t know if this is because I’m an introvert or if I’m an introvert because I don’t like this kind of risk. I’m also not a fan of financial risk. Been there, done that. Had to hock the t-shirt.