Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Wild Rising in the Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden has been aiming to keep things fresh, give people reasons to come back, and be part of the art world as well as the plant world. That is, they strive to be a community place. They had an art exhibit throughout the garden a year or two back that I did not care for (the one with the giant standing pigs in bright colors and polka dots). This past year, Electric Desert was their nighttime exhibit--and I also did not care for that one. I felt like it detracted from rather than enhanced the garden.

All of this to say that their newest exhibit, Wild Rising by Cracking Art, does work--it is both fun and thoughtful, both during the day and at night (I'll save the nighttime pictures for later, though, as I find that I have too many).

As you walk toward the entrance from the parking lot, you look up to see frogs of various colors. I don't know if it was because I was with a two-year-old when I first saw them, but even as a person not inclined towards bright colors or primary colors, these frogs made me happy.

Keep walking and solemn meerkats meet you. 

Can you tell yet the material? These animals are all made of recycled plastic, their message being sustainability. So beside each installation, you'll find a sign telling the story of each particular set-up. 

The type of animal and its behavior ties in with a particular message or concept related to environmental awareness. 

The snails I wasn't sure about. Maybe because of the big, blue snail that takes up center stage looking so very bright (remember, I'm not a bright color person). Maybe because of all the words (I tend to like my words in books and just images for visual art). But the more time I spent with them, the more I tended to like seeing the yellow and red snails up above me. 

The big yellow snails were more favorable to me than the big blue snail--they blend in better with their environment. 

The big, blue crocodile, though, I was all over. He's crying "crocodile tears" as a commentary on our awareness of the existence of sustainability issues and our continued lack of focus on taking action. I love the lizard types of animals and he was by a bridge and bridges tend to go over water and water is blue--so I didn't mind blue in this context. 

I caught a special moment between these two; let's say no more. 

My photo doesn't do justice to the plastic fish up in the sky. They're so silly because you have the regular plant exhibits down at the bottom, then you look up to see "toy" fish. And the blues and whites blend in well with the blue sky, so the colors aren't jarring. They, of course, are a commentary on plastic in the ocean. When whimsy meets tragedy, eh?

These green birds are just so big that they're terrific. I'm more of a green person, it's true, and yet it's also true that the cactus behind the birds are green, right? 

The snails over in another corner of the garden were some of the most natural of all. 

They were almost black, some shiny with blue and others with green. 

These snails are the type for quiet reflection. 

In general, though, even with the bright colors, these installations blended with the garden and felt natural to it. Obviously, of course, they're not natural there, but they made sense in each space. Some I liked more than others, but mostly they at least didn't detract from the garden. For the most part, they did enhance it. They're conversation starters and photo opportunities. They're fun things to look at and smile at. And yet they're also offering up some serious commentary, reminding us to be aware of our place in the world and the effects of the choices that we make. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Fall Holidays

I am reminded that fall is my favorite season. It would seem that it should be spring, but as beautiful as spring is, there is something agitating about spring. Fall, on the other hand, is comforting and cozy.

As far as the fall holidays go, I'm not so big on Halloween as everyone these days seems to be. I like dressing up and I like candy and bats are pretty, but the rest of it? I'm just not interested. So right now that everyone is all in the Halloween mood, I'm excited that Thanksgiving is coming up.

Perhaps Thanksgiving gets hyped less because its theme is not commercial--and unlike Christmas, it still retains that good core. (Okay, Christmas does, too, to many people, but it has that highly commercialized exterior.) Yet I do like to put out all my turkeys in November, and I do like to buy a little Thanksgiving something at the stores just to show that hey, there are those of us who like Thanksgiving, too, not just Halloween or Christmas.

You have to be quick about it, though. Stores put out such little Thanksgiving merchandise (apart from the foodstuffs that come later, of course) that you have to nab it right when you see it or it'll be gone.

I do like the vintage-inspired signage that you can sometimes find, so I picked up these two at Hobby Lobby earlier in the year. They somewhat go with my Victorian-esque style.

At Wal-Mart, I got place cards not because I necessarily needed any but just to get something. And also because the name (Julia) they used for an example is the name of the character in my novel--and as you'll know if you've read my book, Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday.

At Michael's, I found these two necklace kits. I guess they're designed as a craft for kids to do on the day of, but I just wanted the wooden turkeys for me. I'll make a necklace or bracelet or two without the plastic beads.

I also got a wooden tree there. It's two flat pieces of wood that fit in together to make a 3-D shape. Perhaps I might try staining it at some point; I'm not sure. It has little leaves with space on them to write what you're thankful for. You then attach them to the tree. I thought that might make for a nice little sentimental thing to do. I don't always like the forced, flat sentiment, but this year I am reminded that I am in fact quite genuinely sentimental, so perhaps this will work. And you can always make new leaves year after year, always keeping the tree around. (I also just have a thing for trees, so maybe that's why I got this one--or it could be that it seemed like a genuine Thanksgiving thing, not a commercialized thing.)

I don't usually put anything outside, but I guess I wanted to get into the spirit of the fall holidays that some of my neighbors are starting in on without all the Halloween things they have. So I put a pumpkin in the middle of my usual door wreath. Pumpkins can be either Halloween or Thanksgiving, though the sentiment definitely puts it in the spirit of Thanksgiving. And why not? If other people love Halloween so much that they start putting out Halloween things in September, I'll just go ahead and love Thanksgiving so much that I start putting Thanksgiving things out in October.

I don't want to call on fear; I want to call on thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Walking through Dreams - Part 2

Click here for Part 1.

I went to see an old friend while I was at the Happiest Place on Earth. Her house is so pretty, kept nice and neat and bright with flowers. It had been years since I'd visited her.

I really had to make it over because, as you can see, I'd dressed like her, right down to the lace-edged shorts under my skirt. You know, I'd heard people say that a dress is a great option for Disneyland because it's comfortable and you can add leggings when it gets cold at night. I'm a dress person, but I always wear jeans to Disneyland--until now. The dresses were great. (Though I did find that the fabric on this particular dress took a long time to dry, which did not go well with my Grizzly River Run soaking.)

I only regret that I usually take off my glasses for posed pictures and I forgot to with Minnie. Guess I was more focused on meeting her. (I also forgot with Darth Vader, but maybe that was because I didn't want the increased intimidation of not being able to see when I was around him.) My dress had pockets, so I would put my glasses in one pocket and my phone in the other to have easy access to the PhotoPass code at the end.

I also caught a glimpse of the Cheshire Cat while swirling in a teacup. I told you, I spent a whole morning (well, maybe not the whole morning) just bouncing around by myself to the PhotoPass spots--I highly recommend it. 

And the Castle, of course. 

I noticed that they did many "magic" pictures with me--perhaps the magic is a little easier when there's just one person in the picture? Or maybe since posing is quicker with just one person, they're able to spend a little more time with you to get different types of shots. 

Lunch was at Carthay Circle in California Adventure, out on the patio. Carthay is gorgeous inside, though it was also a lovely day to spend outside. Also nice was getting to take a long break in the middle of the day. I didn't get very tired this trip because of the dining that we did, even though I'd never spent so long at the parks (two and a half days). 

The best thing are their signature biscuits. Don't pass them up; they're full of fine dining flavor and flair.

Speaking of fine dining, dinner that day was at Napa Rose over in the Grand Californian. Arts and Crafts style and California cuisine, a literal stone's throw from the parks. 

Glass windows overlook the hotel guest entrance into California Adventure. The drink is Pushing up Roses. 

The entree was the Skuna Bay Salmon, which had a strawberry dust and corn relish. I couldn't picture how that would all go together, but it was stellar. Napa Rose lived up to its name as the best restaurant at the Disneyland Resort. 

Though it was about three weeks after my birthday, this was when we were all able to get out there, so technically it was kind of all for my birthday. So if I got to indulge quite a bit, that's why. 

Breakfast the next morning (I told you we did a lot of dining) was at Carnation Cafe on Main St. Given that I'm usually into taking advantage of the shorter wait times in the morning, I never have breakfast in the park (unless it's something on the go). So it was super nice to get to do something so classic. 

Afterwards, we saw Frozen at the Hyperion and the Coco street show by the Pier. The latter was nice but the former was amazing. Even knowing beforehand that it was a full, Broadway style show with high production values didn't change how great it was to finally see it in person. Beautiful sets and costumes, wonderful use of projections, and a talented cast. 

By this time, I was aching for salad and also picturing long lines in California Adventure, so we made our way back across the way for lunch at Rancho del Zocalo, where we also sampled some Halloween Time treats, the Frozen Abuelita Horchata, the Pan Dulce Ice Cream Sandwich, and the Orange Sugar Skull Pot de Creme. The pot de creme also tasted of Abuelita hot chocolate, and the pan dulce was (unfortunately for me) better than most of the bread I can find where I live (I mean, the one in Mesa isn't bad, but I also feel like I've had better and isn't there anything super good that's closer?). 

I spent an interesting balance this trip of spending time by myself, with one other person, with a small group, and with a large group (nine people, that is). I rode rides, I sat around, I watched shows, I saw street performances, I took pictures, I met characters, I ate food of both the fine dining and the park dining varieties. I caught the tail end of Fantasmic, which is my favorite part. I think I did it all. 

It was all so wonderful overall that I do believe I dreamed it all up and then my dream became a reality through which I began to walk. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Walking through Dreams - Part 1

I told you I'd be visiting Batuu again soon, didn't I? It's been a while since I went to Disneyland twice in the same year, but you know what? This year has been rough for a variety of reasons, so I can use some extra cheering. I'll come in with a second post later that focuses on Disney, but it'll be Star Wars today.

This picture is so good it looks green-screened. 

In June, I had my four hour window to hang out in Black Spire Outpost, but this time I could just wander in and out at will and spend as much time as I wanted to there and still know that I'd be able to come back later if I wanted to. Amazing. I am enthralled by this place. It's beautiful. I truly believe that it has been there forever and that when I am there, I am on another planet. It's gorgeous. All of the architectural and atmospheric detail and all of the backstories.

Going first thing in the morning doesn't necessarily give you a shorter ride wait time, but it does give a great opportunity for pictures. Take some of your own and take advantage of PhotoPass. The overcast mornings provide good lighting and there will be less people in your pictures. 

Last time, I had lunch at Docking Bay 7 and liked the place but didn't care for the food. This time I tried breakfast from Ronto Roasters. Twice. The first morning by myself--and then the second morning I split one of the wraps with someone while we waited in line for Smuggler's Run (we had late breakfast reservations). It's my favorite breakfast thing now. No line and a solid, easy-to-eat-on-the-go food. I need fuel for a day at the parks but I don't always want to take time for a sit down breakfast, so this is perfect. 

Speaking of Smuggler's Run, I finally had the opportunity to be more than just an engineer on the Millennium Falcon since I wasn't by myself this time. Only, we never got the whole group on together, so it being only two of us, I still only managed to be a gunner, not a pilot. And I don't know, engineer might just be more exciting than gunner. There are more types of buttons. Gunner does put you a little closer to the screen, though, so I think it lets you see what's going on better. Someday, someday I'll get to make that jump to light speed. 

I love petrified wood both in Arizona and on Batuu.

From my face, perhaps porgs smell a little fishy?

Not sure why I'm so thrilled about the First Order's presence on the planet.

Just hanging out at the outpost.

Seeing Black Spire Outpost at night was exciting. The colors change with the lighting, and it all remains gorgeous. 

The Marketplace is well lit with lamps from above. 

I'd been saving Oga's Cantina; this time I made it there. Being just two people (for the cantina, not for the trip), we stood at the bar. Maybe other spots have their perks, too, but that seems like the best place to be. You feel right in the middle of it all. 

My drink was the Jedi Mind Trick, a lovely light cocktail perfect for being at the park. I appreciate that it felt light on the alcohol because that's what feels appropriate for Disneyland. The drinks are all beautiful and if this one was an example, quite good, as well. 

Oops, can you tell that I barely reach the bar? 

On our last night there, we watched the fireworks from in front of the Falcon. That's my new favorite spot for fireworks. Sure, you can't hear the soundtrack, but I didn't mind since these were the Halloween fireworks and I'm not big on Halloween (I'm in the minority these days, I guess) and I'd watched them in Disneyland proper the night before. This time I could just enjoy the fireworks behind the black spires. Gorgeous. You're also super close to where they launch them from, so they're bigger and louder. A most impressive sight. 

Oh, yes, and elsewhere in time and space (specifically, at Launch Bay in Tomorrowland), I took this weird picture with Darth Vader. I am tiny, this we know. Everyone's right; it's intimidating meeting him, especially when you don't even come up to his shoulder. I told him I support the Empire because, you know, it seemed polite. 

Walking through dreams and playing with our imaginations, it's nice. It helps us relax and it helps us store up good memories. Memories of walking through Black Spire Outpost and showing everything to my family and smiling with them. 

Click here for Part 2.