Solbit walks through a “riddled” Tucson

Dear Nicalai,

Guess what I found on our walk yesterday here in Tucson? I found three riddles. What’s a “riddle?” The Merriam-Webster dictionary told me that a riddle is “… a mystifying, misleading, or puzzling question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed : conundrum, enigma..” That’s just exactly what I found on our walk. As soon as I saw my first riddle, it came at me just like that.  Bam!  Then, I saw others.  Yeah, I think Tucson is full of riddles.

Can you answer this Tucson riddle?  What has pedals, wheel rims, sprockets, and you can find it on streets?  I think I know what you’re going to say, “A bicycle!” Wrong!  Look at this photo of my first Tucson riddle.

What has pedals, wheel rims, sprockets, and you can find it on streets? Answer: a trash can.

Isn’t that a pretty receptacle for ugly trash? Someone in Tucson is really good at recycling.

O.K., here’s another riddle that I came upon during our walk. What berry brings to mind the great outdoors?  Here’s the photo of my second riddle.

What berry brings to mind the great outdoors? Answer: That would be Wendell Berry, farmer, author, and environmentalist.

The tile art that Wendell Berry inspired on this Tucson street says, in part, “…and I feel above me the day-blind stars/ waiting for their light/for a time I rest in the grace of the world/ and am free.”  Did you ever feel that way when you lie on the grass and stare up into the vast blue sky with floating clouds?  I sure have.

One more riddle, then I have to go, because Nona and Papa are anxious to go for another walk.  They’re obsessed with getting in 10,000 steps a day.  Guess it’s some old peoples thing, but I don’t get it.  Here’s the riddle: How can the moon keep you awake at night when you’re camping?

How can the moon keep you awake at night when you’re camping? Answer: it makes the coyotes yelp and howl and sing.

I don’t know why the coyotes make so much noise when the moon is out, but the moon does seem to have an effect on them.  Have you ever noticed that when you’re camping out west?

Those are my three riddles from Tucson.  I will probably find more on our walk today, but I won’t write you about them — unless they’re really, really good. Bye! I’m your friend.

Love,

 

 

 

Solbit

April 2017

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit goes into the wild at a museum

Dear Nicalai,

What do you think of when I say, “Museum.”  Quiet? Orderly? Many rooms?  Yeah, well, we just got back from a museum that’s nothing like that.  When you go to this museum, it’s almost like going into the wild. No kidding.

Uncle Jim, Aunt Pat, cousin Michaela, Nona, Papa, and I went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum here in Tucson.  Tucson is a stop on our 7-month road trip. I’ve never been here.  It’s an interesting town, with old western and modern features.  You should come here sometime.  Oh, but Nona just reminded me to stick to my topic: going into the wild at a museum.

You don’t believe a museum can be wild, a desert-type wild? I met some wild creatures here.  Look at this one.

I got as close as I could to this Mexican Fireleg Tarantula, but I had to stop when my head hit glass. Bonk!

The Mexican Fireleg Tarantula is a type of spider that lives here in the desert. It’s much bigger than this little plastic jurassic.  I’m pretty sure the glass saved me from becoming a spider-snack.  If I were naming this spider, I’d add hairy, the Mexican Hairy Fireleg Tarantula. Guess spiders can’t go to the barbershop.

Among my surprises at the museum was this bird.  I don’t think of water birds living in a desert environment, but let me show you.

I think the heron had my problem. It got as close to Michaela as it could, but then its beak hit glass. Bonk, again!

Look at that beak.  That glass saved Michaela from a hole in the head.  So, it is safe to be at this wild museum.

Ever hear the term, “The Trickster?”  That’s what some Native Americans called a dog-like animal, the coyote.  Nona, Papa, and I have heard coyotes at night when we were camping.  Now, I got to see one running loose in the desert.

No glass between us and this coyote, but we couldn’t get near it, or rather it couldn’t get near us, because of a wall on the desert floor that we stood on top of and looked down from.

Coyotes are related to dogs and wolves.  I’ve seen a lot of dogs, mostly friendly ones, but Papa says to keep my distance from a coyote, if I ever see one.  I guess coyotes are not so cuddly and friendly.

Not all the wild things at this museum are scary.  It’s okay to get close to some of them, as long as we don’t do anything to hurt them.  Here’s my favorite friendly wild thing of today’s visit.

Desert butterflies are beautiful, although they look just a little burnt by the sun, don’t they?

You can see why my favorite museum ever is this desert museum.  I wish more museums could go wild like this one does.  By the way, what’s your favorite museum and where is it?

Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

 

 

 

Solbit

April 2017

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit says use your powers of observation

Dear Nicalai,

Nona, Papa, and I practice looking a lot.  You wouldn’t think that looking — or observing — takes practice, would you? Yet, the more I practice, the more I realize that I miss seeing what’s right in front of my face. I need more practice to be good at looking to see what’s there.

Here’s an example.  So, I’m riding along in Nona’s pocket looking down at the ground as it passes by. What do I see?  Dirt. Stones. Nona’s foot moving. Then Papa says, “Stop, did you see that?” Nona stopped. What?  “Look down there below you.”

What I had missed but what was clearly there for me to see was a laboring ant moving a big piece of food — big compared to the ant. What a strong ant!

I would have missed the ant with its vegetable burden payload, if Papa hadn’t pointed it out.  That’s another thing about looking: we have to help each other to see things.  Also, we need to pay attention when someone points out something to see.

On the one hand, looking isn’t easy, but, on the other hand, it doesn’t hurt and can be fun, and you can learn things from what you see and others miss.

When we walked the pathways nearby San Pedro House, not far from our place in Sierra Vista, Arizona, we enjoyed looking at this pond.

Pond water, reeds, maybe some algae, that’s about it, right? Wrong!

Well, we heard something.  Water doesn’t make that sound. Neither do reeds, not even in a strong wind. Algae doesn’t either. Papa knew that sound from the days when he had grown up on a farm.  “That’s a frog. Maybe we can find it if we look really hard,” Papa encouraged us.

There’s a dispute who found the frog first, Nona or me. She used her binoculars, and I didn’t, so I should get the credit. Nona put that circle on the picture though.

We had to keep pointing to the frog because Papa just couldn’t find it. It kept croaking away, and Papa kept asking “Where is it?”  I wonder if maybe he needs glasses for distance?

You can see that the frog is well designed to be very hard to find.  That helps the frog escape predators, like hawks, snakes, and people.

I think we were able to look for birds and find them more easily than the frogs. Often, we would hear the birds singing first. Then we’d look in the direction of the sound, and then we might find them.  That’s how we found this bird. Isn’t it interesting how ears help our eyes?

The lark sparrow kindly posed so that Nona could get a good picture of it.

So, our ears helped us to look. A birds sings, peeps, or squawks, and we hear it as, “Look at me. Find me.” Our ears tell us which way and how high or low to look, and then, if we’re lucky, we see the bird.

By the way, some birdwatchers are so good that they don’t have to look to know what bird they will see.  They know each bird’s calls, so all they have to do is hear it. Nona and Papa aren’t there yet.  I don’t want to discourage them, but, I doubt they ever will identify birds just with their ears. Still they do enjoy looking for birds. Enjoying what they do is what’s important.

Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

 

 

 

Solbit

April 2017

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

A Gulling Experience

Dear Nicalai,

Greetings from the Beach! We’re in San Diego.  How is it here? Well, you might say that we’re having a “gull-ing” experience, but that could mislead you.  We’re just having a good time observing the behavior of a certain type of beach bum, the gull.

We’ve learned to watch our food around gulls.

These juvenile western gulls just heisted someone’s apple from a lunch bag!

Another behavior trait that I have observed among these gulls is that they like to make noise together. Maybe they think they’re singing, but their “vocalizations” hurt my eardrums.

Squawking, squawking, squawking, they’re driving me crazy!

I was beginning to think that gulls are just another kind of pest. Just when I was wondering how to get rid of these pests, I discovered this gull performing an important service at the beach.

A lifeguard gull! Amazing.  Now I’m wondering how does a gull save lives lost at sea? I can’t imagine, but the sign is very clear, isn’t it, identifying this gull as a “lifeguard”?

As we strolled the beach, Nona said, “Solbit, look there, even gulls dare to be different.”

Sure enough, a Heerman’s gull — looking different — stood there proudly and apparently comfortable with the many western gulls sharing the beach with it.

Well, squawking gulls still jangle my nerves, but I admit that a lifeguard gull and a gull that dares to be different have both taught me to appreciate gulls — even those little apple thieves amused me.

Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

 

 

 

Solbit

March 2017

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

“Help!” Solbit Cries Out in the Desert.

Dear Nicalai,

Do you have any idea what it’s like to be nearly strangled in the desert?  Well, I do, and I’ve got photographic evidence of the attack.

Walking along in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California with Nona, Papa, and their four friends from Sandpoint, Idaho — Steve and Elizabeth and Bob and Marty — I felt completely at ease … and safe.  Then I saw something in the dirt, and, well, you know that I am inquisitive, so I went over to take a look.

“What’s that?” I wondered and wandered over to get a closer look.

Then swish, bam, before I realized what was happening this anonymous hand came at my neck.

Well, I wasn’t expecting that! It’s not as if I had said, “Hey, give me a hand, will you?”

Where’d that miniature human hand come from? Is a little man under the dirt there? Does he want me to pull him out? Oh, no, he’s trying to strangle me! Help! Even though I panicked, I had time to wonder, “Hey, how does he keep his bare arm so clean under that dirt?”

Getting away wasn’t easy. I kept bogging down in the soft dirt. “Help!”

“OK, Solbit, that’s a take,” our friend Bob said. “Well, done.” Everyone applauded my performance, and, truth be told, I am a good actor.  Yes, we were just play acting. What fun!

What you see is not always what you get. Get it? We staged these photos, just for fun.

After that scene, we all sat around on the rocks and had a snack and some water to drink.  Then we hiked back down to town.

“I had no trouble getting down the canyon. Just hitched a ride in Nona’s pocket! She and the others did slip and slide, though.

You know what I learned today from our hike with our friends?  I learned that you don’t have to be a kid to kid around and have fun.  Even grown-ups enjoy play acting!

Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

 

 

 

Solbit

February 2017

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit Sees Marilyn Monroe, a famous long gone actress!

Dear Nicalai,

We’re enjoying our time in Washington, DC, and it just got better with visitors.  Uncle Jim and Aunt Pat came out from Ohio. On Saturday morning, we all got together at Uncle Tom and Barbara’s. Uncle Tom made pancakes for all of us.  Then we went for a walk on Capitol Hill, and we did have fun.  Doing guess what?  Seeing more art!

First, we stopped for lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian; they have the best food there — you have an amazing array of choices!  After lunch, we walked over to the National Gallery of Art’s newly renovated East Building. Girl, did we have fun there looking at all the art, going out on the roof to see the blue rooster, yes blue, and visiting the gift shop, too.

Let me show you some of the art that we saw. Even though a woman takes up the whole thing, the artist gave it a man’s name,  “Gordian Puzzle.” Go figure.

Marilyn Monroe, a famous actress, was photographed by Richard Avedon in 1957. Then artist Via Muniz turned her into several jigsaw puzzles in 2007!

I get the “puzzle” part of the name, of course,  but Gordi or Gordon?  Nah, doesn’t make sense to me.  How do you explain that? Let me know if you figure out what a Gordian Puzzle is.

Nona said that guests are allowed to go out on the roof of this great big tall art gallery.  Really?  Yes, really.  She invited me out there to see the blue rooster.  Rooster? What, they raise chickens on the roof in our nation’s capital?  I just had to see that.  Look at this …

Katharina Fritch, the artist, can turn glass fiber, polyester, and resin into something big and beautiful, but who ever saw a blue rooster? Do they come in blue?

Never before have I seen a rooster that big or that blue. Have you?  He hadn’t turned blue because of the cold outside, either.  It was a perfectly comfortable day. I wonder what got into the artist.  Do you think she just woke up one day and said to herself, “I’m going to make a big, blue rooster today, and I’m going to put it on top of a big art gallery?”  Whatever, I have to hand it to her, she got it done, made it happen, over came all the challenges.  After all, a lot of people must have complained about a blue rooster on the roof of an important building. She’s my kind of woman.

One thing I noticed as we rambled around this big art gallery was how a piece of art could set off Nona and Barbara talking and talking and talking about something they were looking at on the wall.

Nona and Barbara liked to stand and stare at certain paintings. A painting could keep them chatting for a long time.

Really, girl, how much can you say about this painting?  I just don’t see all those words being generated by a piece of canvas and oil paint brush strokes.  Guess I’m just a plastic Jurassic that doesn’t understand humans, yet.

Here’s another painting that baffles me. It doesn’t have in it what the name says as far as I can tell.

From left to right: Aunt Pat, Uncle Jim, Nona, Uncle Tom, Aunt Barbara, Orange Purse in front of several paintings called “stations of the cross.” Didn’t look like gas stations and where’s the cross?

Papa told me that “stations of the cross” has something to do with western religious traditions.  I didn’t get it all, but I get it that this painting wasn’t about gas stations.  Did you know that Papa studied Comparative Religions when he was in college? Yeah, surprised me too.  Well, maybe that’s why he took this family portrait in front of  this painting? I guess it’s religious, whatever that means.  I don’t know.

As you can see, Papa’s photos are not as good as Nona’s.  I think he doesn’t try hard enough.  Know what I mean? I mean he could have asked them all to turn around. Also, maybe he should use a real camera and not just his phone camera.

Hey, we’re going to see you in a few weeks.  We’re flying to the west coast pretty soon. Bye! I’m your friend.

Love,

 

 

 

Solbit

December 2016

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit’s Argentinian find: bathroom humor!

Dear Nicalai,

I’m am so sad today.  We have begun our trip from South America back to the US.  We’re waiting at the Trelew airport for a flight. Trelew is in Patagonia.  Papa is in the Men’s room.  He went there to get away from my whining again and again, “I want to stay here!”  Even after our wonderful seven months living in Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina, I’m not yet ready to go home.

Papa just came back from the Men’s Room.  He saw me still pouting to Nona, but he returned anyway. Right away, he found a way to cheer me up with some bathroom humor.

“Solbit, you have to look at this photo that I just took in the restroom,” he said enthusiastically.  “Papa, I’m not sure that would be appropriate,” I replied, even before Nona could close her dropped, disapproving jaw.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “I didn’t go low with my iPhone camera. You’ll appreciate this and so will Nona.  Nona, close you mouth and look here.”  Then he exposed his big iPhone 6 screen for us to see. “This is what I saw when I was standing in the bathroom and turned my head,” Papa explained.

Papa said he felt like “The Eyes of Trelew” were upon him, just when he needed his privacy!

Papa said he felt like “The Eyes of Trelew” were upon him, just when he needed his privacy!

“For just a fraction of a second, I thought a woman was staring at me through her sunglasses, and then I started to laugh, because I realized I’d been fooled,” Papa laughed, and we did too. “That is funny!” Nona exclaimed, “I wonder if there’s one in the women’s restroom?”  She and I checked.  There was! That one is a big mirror made to look like a man’s sunglasses though. Nona and I laughed again, and I almost forgot to be sad.

Papa said that the mirrors in the Men’s and Women’s rooms weren’t just “bathroom humor” but also art.  “Art?” I questioned, “in a bathroom? I don’t think so.”  Nona jumped in, “Oh, sure, art can be found almost anywhere.  Remember the mural outside of that pizza shop in Buenos Aires, Solbit?”  I did remember that painting of movie characters. Check this out.

Right there at the pizza shop was Don Corleone and Darth Vader.  Wonder if either of them liked pizza? Does Darth Vader eat or is he just a machine now?

Right there at the pizza shop was Don Corleone and Darth Vader.  Wonder if either of them liked pizza? Does Darth Vader eat or is he just a machine now?

Oops, our plane is here. We have to put the computer away and board. I’ll have to finish this email another day.  Stay tuned…..

Our art appreciation continued when we arrived at our next stop, Washington, DC.  Nona and Papa took me to the Phillips Collection — they collect art there.  We saw this amazingly detailed portrait called, “Mercy,” by Whitfield Lovell.

A fine portrait doesn’t need to be in oil paint on canvas. This dignified image of a man who was made a slave is in charcoal and on wood.

A fine portrait doesn’t need to be in oil paint on canvas. This dignified image of a man who was made a slave is in charcoal and on wood.

I guess art can be found in many different places and can be created out of many different things.  For another example, look at this.  Papa said he thought it was oil paint on canvas, and he’s right.

Nona really liked this ballpoint pen and crayon portrait by his wife, Sally Michel. I do too.  Hey, I have a ball point pen and crayons. Maybe I’ll try being an artist!

Nona really liked this oil on canvas portrait of Marsden Hartley by Milton Avery.  I don’t have canvas or oil paint, but, hey, I have a ball point pen and crayons. Maybe I’ll try being an artist!

Well, as you can tell, we’re back in the USA.  Although I’m sad to have left South America, I’m pretty happy eating great food at Uncle Tom & Aunt Barbara’s home on Capitol Hill, and we can just walk to the free Smithsonian museums on the mall here to see more art. It’s not South America, and I do miss hearing Spanish, but I can’t complain. Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

signature

 

 

 

Solbit

November 20016

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”