A scenic byway is a specially designated road that travels through an area of natural or cultural beauty. You can drive on through your life as fast as you can, more focused on the destination than the journey. Or you can choose to be present and revel in the journey that is life. I choose the latter. Eyes wide open and marveling at the beauty that is everywhere all the time - this is My Scenic Byway.
What a way to end the year, right? A visit to Death Valley. The death of 2011 and the birth of a new year. It seems fitting, doesn't it?
Earlier today we woke up at 5:30 am in Pahrump, NV (love that name and will write more about this place later) and drove to Death Valley. We watched the sun rise across the land, saw a coyote and wild horses. Drove around to see some sights before heading south to the Mojave.
It was my first visit to this wondrous place and certainly, hopefully not the last. I can't wait to return and see more. The place felt magical and was far more beautiful than I expected.
I am sitting here now, several hours south in Yucca Valley, visiting with friends, talking about new year's resolutions, listening to music, drinking wine in front of the fire and remembering the beauty from today. Beautiful images and memories to close out the year and ring in a new one.
Wishing you happiness, health, peace and love in the new year! P.S. Go see Death Valley!
I just watched this little 10-minute TED talk/video and I had to share it with you because its so beautiful and moving and powerful. This is how I want to end my year - reflecting on gratitude. Focusing on the beauty and the opportunity that we encounter every single day in nature, people and the world around us that we have created. Wow. Please take 10 minutes and watch this. It will cleanse your soul.
You know I love street art. Love it so much. I just found this link through a friend - from a site called Street Art Utopia. The site's motto? We declare the world as our canvas. They have a list of what they refer to as "106 of the most beloved street art photos - Year 2011." Check it out. The stuff makes me want to weep with joy. Beautiful, clever, funny - this is why I love this stuff so much. I love that someone sees something on a random street, usually some small area of blight, and has this vision of something beautiful or humorous that fits there, and then goes and makes it happen. And then we all can enjoy it - collectively understanding the beauty or the humor. Something to make us stop and pause and admire and maybe giggle as we go about our busy day.
Everyone of course knows Banksy, but long before and long after him are all these equally talented (or more), lesser known artists, each with their own style - giant murals, posters, drawings, miniature sculptures, on and on. I never get tired of looking at these works of art.
My sister in law makes notebooks out of vintage, often wacky, hardcover books. She keeps the hard cover and then inside keeps some of the choice photos and then adds blank pages that you can write on. Key is keeping some of those kitschy photos from the books. They are awesome. Really. And there is something there for everyone. If you love kitsch, you will adore her stuff. She searches for only the best. The other day she showed us some of her latest finds. So weird they are still blowing my mind. You look at some of these and you think, who the hell published this book? And why?? To give you some idea of what I am talking about, check out a few pix I took from some of her latest finds the other day.
This one...seriously. I cannot believe someone actually spent money publishing this book.
This one...speechless. This is a book about the Australian outback. With dolls.
Seriously the entire book is photos of these dolls.
Hanging at my sister-in-law's place is fun. Not only does she have a cool, artsy, funky, fun decorated house all year round, yesterday she had a holiday sale at her house to sell some of her and her family's crafts. She has a booth every summer at the Saturday Farmers Market in downtown SLC and she sells some of her stuff at some local boutiques year round. I took these photos yesterday when we stopped by to pick up some of her crafts for holiday gift giving. Most of these photos are of the things that are always in her house, many that she made, with a few pix of some of the things she is selling. She is a crafty one!
She finds old books and turns them into switch plates, notebooks and greeting cards.
On top of the tv.
Chairman Mao does Christmas in the kitchen.
The Colonel stands guard in the kitchen.
Non-PC antique boy scout handicrafts plus tiny Mormon missionaries and some of the switch plates she makes.
Jesus, Mary and Buddha and some greeting cards for sale.
This is just there in the house all the time - but we added the book.
Fun animal plant holders for sale.
Flamingos in the back yard.
My favorite painting in their home, plus some crafts for sale below.
I visited the Art Barn yesterday for the 28th Annual Holiday Craft Exhibition and Sale. Twenty-eight years they've been doing this! The Art Barn is home of the Salt Lake City Arts Council and it has been a community art center since the 1930s.
Today (Sunday, December 18) is the last day of the holiday sale, so get on over there if you can. They have great gifts for the holidays. If you missed it this year, remember it for next year. If you aren't from Salt Lake, I bet your community has similar seasonal sales for local artists and artisans. I think it is always better to gift local arts and crafts when you can. Buy local and support creative forces. Happy holidays!
Still reeling from Christopher Hitchen's passing, I just learned that Cesaria Evora died today! I am so sad. I always loved her and her music. I suppose I should not be surprised as she was 70 and had suffered from heart problems. It has been many years since I saw her perform at Wolf Trap in the DC area and somehow I just assumed I might see her in concert again some day. Sometimes I just forget how time passes. However, I feel so fortunate to have known and loved her music and to see her perform live - twice!
Seeing her in concert was magical, especially outside on a warm summer night like I did. Her music was romantic - making you think of warm tropical nights near the ocean, feeling in love and free, dancing and drinking under the moon and stars.
She was from Cape Verde and much of her music was sung in Portuguese or a local Creole. I didn't understand the lyrics, but it did not matter. Her voice and the sound of the words and the melodies were beautiful. She performed a Cape Verde style of music called Morna. She did perform barefoot - thus the nickname - and occasionally she would sit at a little table and smoke, like she was in a cafe. I love a quote from Le Monde - "She belongs to the aristocracy of bar singers."
Her music was such a big part of me in the 1990s - the memories! I have many of her albums and used to listen to them all the time, but I haven't listened to her music for quite some time. New music comes along and we sometimes forget earlier artists and albums we loved. So in memory of a beautiful artist, tonight I am listening again to that music that I loved.
If you don't know her music, I recommend giving it a try. Cesaria (1995) and Miss Perfumado (1992) are probably still my favorites of all of her albums, probably because those were the first ones I knew. Below is a recording from YouTube of one of my favorite songs - just to give you a taste. I was going to put the original recording from the album, but I found this live performance and I love it! This is exactly how I remember her in concert. Enjoy the beauty that is the Barefoot Diva...
I had to get up and have a 6:30 am conference call. Now I am taking a little break and feeling like I have ADD. Too much coffee and not enough sleep? My mind is racing with very random, very weird thoughts such as...
Paula Abdul was in my dream the other night. And this was before I watched four episodes of the X Factor that we had taped while on vacation, so I can't say "oh that is why she was in my head." I think its odd that she was in my dream. But now I can't recall why she was there or what she was doing. Dreams are weird. And the X Factor has become an annoying show. The inane bickering between the judges and the bad dialogue from the show's host. Which is why I love my DVR. I just fast forward through all the blah blah and watch the contestants perform. Even some of those we use the fast forward because I can't sit still and listen to people perform bad and/or boring songs.
I think its weird that I spotted Adrien Brody this year at Miami Art Basel...well actually, walking briskly down the street, given that I spotted him last year in the convention center and I hardly ever spot celebrities. I walk around too much in my own head to notice people like that. So that makes it all the more weird. I feel haunted by Adrien Brody. Has he even made any movies of late or is he too busy hobnobbing in Miami at fancy art parties? Wasn't his last film some really bad looking scifi/horror flick about creating a human alien thing that escapes and kills him? From the clips I saw, it did not look like a good movie. But I guess he needed to make it so he could get some money to buy art. I suppose I would do the same if it helped me buy the art I want.
A few days ago I was on the beach, in the sun. Now I am staring out my window at a grey cloudy sky and snowflakes. December in SLC. If only I were a skier...The fact that we can fly all over the world and change our environment so drastically is weird, isn't it? What really trips me out is when one day you are in a world, say somewhere hot and crazy in India, and then the next day you are in Salt Lake City in the winter. Bam! Talk about a weird physical and mental and emotional shift, within a day. I've done so many international trips like that where I am amazed at the shift. Its just weird.
Yesterday I had to get a biopsy on my thyroid. Try having someone inject novocaine into your throat - it burns like you wouldn't believe. And then inject like 8 long, not as thin as you had imagined, needles into your throat. Good times. And should you swallow during the process - oh man. The pain was not fun. The whole process was weird and stressful. At least I am not bruised so that it looks like someone tried to strangle me. I am hoping to hold on to this thyroid for the long haul.
Man I have a lot of stuff to do around the house and errands in my life and work for my job. I don't know how people with kids do it. I can barely do it for myself. Which reminds me I have another meeting. Back to focus and reality...weird.
If you go to Isla Mujeres, a must see is a visit to Punta Sur, the southern most tip of the island, and the eastern most point of Mexico. This area is the highest in the Yucatan (I read that online and find that so hard to believe, but perhaps it is true). Here in this area next to Garrafon Reef Park, you will find a small Mayan temple to Ixchel, the Goddess of the Moon and the Punta Sur Sculpture Garden. You also have amazing views of the ocean from beautiful cliffs, and more iguanas than I have ever seen in one place. There is a little bar/restaurant where you can get a cold beer and some good, inexpensive food after your tour. They had the best chips and pico de gallo we found anywhere on the island and some of the best I've had anywhere. The sculpture garden was created in 2001 by the Sebastian Foundation and features works from 23 artists from Mexico and other countries. Here are some photos from the sculpture garden.