A New Plant in Our Garden

This year we decided to try a new plant in our late winter desert courtyard; Stock (Matthiola). I had seen this plant and known about it for quite some time, but I had never used it. I wondered how it would do in the very sunny southwest. I am happy to report that it has served us well as a full blooming, fragrant courtyard resident. It has been in bloom for weeks and with proper dead-heading, I think it will stay in bloom for some time to come.

It does have a tendency to set elongated seed pods so I snip them from time-to-time and cut back the dead flowers when a stalk is nearly spent. The picture below shows one pot against our faux brick wall near the front door. There is a twin pot on the other side of the door as well.

Stock in the Arizona Courtyard

There are many references to this plant on the Internet if you care to find out more. Here is the Better Homes and Gardens contribution about Stock.

Have you ever grown this plant? What do you think about the form and color?

STATUS QUOtes — 20150223

“If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we’d all be millionaires.” — Abigail Van Buren

“Confidence doesn’t mean you’re always right, it means you’re not afraid to be wrong.” — English Quotes

“You must have conflict in your story. Even fairy tales and cartoons have them.” — Terry McMillan

“Time is money, especially when you are talking to a lawyer or buying a commercial.” — Frank Dane

STATUS QUOtes — 20150222

“Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” — Malcolm Gladwell

“Within every acorn there is the dream of an oak tree.” — JBR inspired by Sue Monk Kidd

“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” — Emile Zola

“My mother protected me from the world and my father threatened me with it.” — Quentin Crisp

Photographing Squirrels at Play – Vadim Trunov

It is often said that “timing is everything” and in my life I have found this to be true on many occasions. When viewing the photographs below, we can note that timing was probably an important factor, but patience, persistence and skill were also on strong display. We owe a big THANK YOU to photographer Vadim Trunov for capturing these whimsical photographs of squirrels acting in many ways much like other living creatures.





You can view much more of Vadim Trunov’s work on his 500px page

STATUS QUOtes — 20150221

“I can conquer the world with one hand as long as you’re holding the other.” – Unknown

“Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.” – Franz Kafka

“Impossible situations can become potential miracles.” ― Robert H. Schuller

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” – Terry Pratchett

Pickleball Games with Mixed Levels of Players

It has been just about a year since I first picked up a Pickleball paddle. It took me some time to become familiar with the bounce or should I say non-bounce of the Pickleball. I have really enjoyed playing and learning the game even though I am just an “average” player with a moment of flourishes every now and then.

I play in environments where there are players from many levels; beginners to 4.5 or perhaps even 5 (which is the best). One thing that has impressed me is the way that most players accept the others regardless of their skill level. Sometimes we play a “round robin” system where teams are paired at random, at other times the sides are selected by the players and often a more experienced player will ask a beginner to pair with them. Of course there are those times when the “better” players elect to play among themselves. At no time are any players made to feel bad because they have made an error or, as we all do from time-to-time, look foolish. Everyone is trying their best!

Here is how my Personal Pickleball Philosophy (PPP) has evolved. When I play with players of my own ability or better, anything goes. I have been in some matches where I was the weakest player and my anything goes philosophy degrades into one of survival.

I am always eager to teach others how to play Pickleball and thus I naturally become part of a beginner’s game. I do have a pretty good serve which varies from the high, soft lob to a much faster, just over the net shot which I can usually use to score an ace or two during a game. Of course when I do try my “harder, trickier” serve, I miss once in a while, but not often.

When playing with beginners or players of significantly lesser ability, I serve the ball so they will be able to return it. A mild serve that will bounce about waist high with no spin. Beginners do sometimes have trouble with this serve, but less so than other types. There would be no fun in trying to spin the ball or hit a hard shot to them. In some cases we also allow beginners to serve on a “first in” basis. This takes some of the pressure off of them, gives them more practice, and makes the game more competitive.

I also try to avoid slamming shots at the beginning players. If I can, I try to use placement rather than power to score points and some of the time, I hit it right to beginners just so they can practice and gain confidence.

Speaking of being more competitive, whenever we select sides, we try to arrange for a competitive match. Once again, what would be the point of pitting two strong players against two weak players? As it is, in many games, one side will often “target” the weaker player which I don’t mind if its me because that is great practice and every once in a while I surprise everyone!

If you watch many of the online videos introducing Pickleball, the statement is generally made that the game is much fun if everyone plays with players of near equal ability. This is very true. We are not talking about tournaments, we are talking about everyday exercise and play.

What is your PPP?

STATUS QUOtes — 20150220

“Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.” — Dan Brown

“Write your Sad times in Sand, Write your Good times in Stone.” — George Bernard Shaw

“Common sense, however it tries, cannot avoid being surprised from time to time.” ― Bertrand Russell

“Don’t make a long story short just so you can tell another one.” — Anonymous

Shooting in the Streets – Photography

Eric Kim is a street photographer from Berkeley, CA. For those who aren’t familiar with the term “street photography,” it refers to those photographers who use the streets and public byways as their inspiration and motivation to create pictures of the people, places and events happening in the natural and real world. It is like finding the poetry in every day life. This is my simplistic definition, but it will do for now.

Mr. Kim has put together an interesting website about his passion and he shares his philosophy and insights with his readers.

Recently, he posted a series of street photography aphorisms, heuristics, and sayings which he has placed in cyberspace to inspire and motivate others. He has generously offered a downloadable version to his readers at the link below.

The sayings are broken down into categories and by way of example, I am including the categories in bold with one quote from each particular section. Many of them are specific to photography, but quite a few can be brought to bring meaning to a number of life’s avenues.

I hope you enjoy the quotes listed below and that you are motivated to visit Erick Kim’s site. There are many more than those that are noted below. Eric Kim’s photography blog


Street Photography Aphorisms, Heuristics, and Sayings

From the Blog of Eric Kim


Life/Philosophy: It is really complicated to make a photograph simple.

Overcoming your fear of shooting street photography: With physical proximity comes emotional proximity.

Creativity/Inspiration: Having fewer options in photography makes you more creative (think of the benefits of shooting with a prime lens).

Motivation: Going out to shoot is like going to the gym; leaving is always the hardest part. But at the end, you’re always glad that you went.

Aesthetics: “Grain is the brush stroke of photography.”- Constantine Manos

When shooting on the streets: “When in doubt, click.” – Charlie Kirk

Photography books: There is a difference between looking at photo books and reading photo books. One is to just see; the other is to analyze.

Equipment: Don’t judge a photographer on the quality of their camera, but the quality of their images.

Success: To double your success rate in street photography, double your failure rate.

Definitions: Don’t ask if your photo is a “street photograph” or not. Ask if it is a meaningful photograph.

Feedback/critique: It is more useful to ask people what they don’t like about your shots, rather than asking them what they like about your shots.

Editing: Editing tip: When in doubt, ditch.

Fame: Rather than creating photos to please your audience, find an audience that will be pleased by your photos.

Happiness: The only key to happiness and satisfaction as a photographer is to not have your happiness depend on others.

Eric Kim’s photography blog

STATUS QUOtes — 20150219

“When you walk with bare feet, you never forget the earth. [ed]” — Carl Jung

“To live, it seems, is to accumulate at least some regrets.” — Cornell University Study **

“Honesty is telling the truth, not only to others but to ourselves as well…” — Luke Glowacki

“Skiing is a dance, and the mountain always leads.” — Unknown

** http://psych.cornell.edu/sites/default/files/Gilo_%26_Medvec_95.pdf