Monthly Archives: November 2016

Cool … cold

… and that sums up the temperature this morning; about 34F when we took off this morning and 30F by the time we made it to 7500’, but as long as we had the sun coming into the cockpit it was quite pleasant. We didn’t have a lot of time this morning so I took these shots of the peaks from just inside the Verde Valley, looking up over the plateau. I was somewhere between Casner Mountain and Long Canyon when I took this shot looking up over the plateau, more or less to the NNE. On the left horizon is Kendrick Peak, then the San Francisco Peaks and finally on the right Mt. Elden. Beyond the face of the plateau and up a ways you can see the northerly walls of West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon.


A delightful lunch at Mesa Grill at the airport, and then my friends headed back to California and me to the ponds to get some waterfowl shooting … home to One and a short hunt with her as she does not like the cold very much … a sandwich with prime filet of beef for dinner and a slice of flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Yum.

Quick wrap, some sleep and start the day with some espresso. Quiet day planned, but who knows?

Enjoy your day and share a smile with those you meet and greet.




The green of all the fields is mine, the stars, the night, the wind at play,

A peaceful heart, while quietly

I go my way

Max Ehrmann


… through some recent uploads I came across this shot which I took a few weeks ago out back of our home. This is a shot I do every year in the fall; the wild peach tree out back has beautiful golden leaves and below the tree there are several Yucca plants with incredibly sharp spears. The leaves from the peach tree fall and more than a few are skewered by the Yucca plant. Normally I save these images for around April 15th and draw a comparison between the IRS and the taxpayer … actually a pretty accurate analogy to how I used to feel. But it is a beautiful image so here it is … sure there are other analogies that can be drawn from this, but I’ll leave that up to you.


Since it was mostly a day inside, I caught up with a bunch of little projects … for fans of Rod McKuen, I got my 3CD pack of the trilogy The Sea, The Earth, The Sky that he did with Anita Kerr, ripped and uploaded today and am currently listening to The Sky … I’m not sure if there has ever been a more enjoyable listening experience than these three albums. So the three pack in Vinyl will remain sealed and un-played and an ornament of sorts I guess. If you are not familiar with Rod McKuen you should treat yourself and if you want to avail yourself of a couple hours of poetry put to music you can buy the 3CD pack on Amazon at:

A beautiful day with lots of rain and possibly some snow tonight, but bright and clear in the morning, so perhaps a flight before noon … can hardly wait to see the snow on the peaks.

An incredible feast prepared by my friend Michael tonight, one of the finest dinners any of us has ever had anywhere … a great time with friends from California … the finest of foods and wines (they had the wine, I sipped the finest vintage 2016 Purely Sedona Water) and all topped off with his signature flourless chocolate cake and of course his world famous macaroons. You can check out Michael’s creds at: and while you’re at it take a look at his products on the website and give yourself the gift of great macaroons!

Time to wrap the day … and if you’re feeling a bit out of sorts, take a look at this peach tree leaf … you’re breathing … keep smiling.




Whatever else you do or forbear;

Impose upon yourself the task of happiness;

And now and then abandon yourself

To the joy of laughter.


Max Ehrmann

A place of dreams

… I spent the afternoon with friends at Arcosanti and we got the tour of the facilities. It was to be the new paradigm in urban design; a project begun in 1970 by Paolo Soleri, it is an “urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community and environmental accountability.” More than 7,000 volunteers have helped construct the project and it is worthy of a visit. Originally conceived to host a population of about 5,000, there are currently less than 100 people living there. You can access the community from their off ramp at I-17 near Cordes Junction, about midway between Phoenix and the Sedona off ramp. Their website is:  and it is worth your time to take a look at it And then pay a visit to the property. Sometimes dreams and reality mesh and sometimes they do not …


The image tonight is pretty much as shot from the dining room into the stairwell area of the six story main building at Arcosanti. The view out the back window was less than fabulous, so in a place of dreams beauty filled the window with an image of Kendrick Peak; One was there to guide us through and keep us safe and a universe of dreams and other places and times was seeping into the fabric of our reality … fun!

Love the weather and I can envision the snow that is covering the peaks … anxious to fly up there when the weather improves.

Hope your Thanksgiving weekend was enjoyable; into another new week and methinks it shall be a very good one. Keep breathing and smiling … the two go kind of hand in hand.




But from the brooding beauty of the night, and daily dancing shafts of golden sun …

The mystery and wonder of the world … that play the soundless music of the soul

And fill the heart with memory’s olden dreams … From these will come at last your faith in God.

Max Ehrmann

While we ate turkey


… this young lady was eating grass, compliments of Chaparral Pines Golf course. I ending up going over to a friend’s home in Payson for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday instead of the quiet day at home I had planned … first time I have been invited anywhere via a call on an aviation frequency whilst in the air, so said yes. After a delightful dinner I headed home and while heading out of the Chaparral Pines community I spotted a herd of Elk dining on lush and not so lush grass. It was at sunset so the lighting was not great, but I got some good shots. Love this shot, so on with the holiday weekend.

Back Monday morning … cheers and keep breathing … never know what will be coming your way next … expect beauty and it will envelop you.



I am the dawn, the whisper of winds, the perfume of morning.

The passing night fondled me, hovering close to me, softly, silently.

The breaking day builds the spirit temple of my joy, I abandon myself!

I see all as one, and nothing repels me, as this new day climbs noiselessly out of the valley of the night.

Peace lies over the world and over the world of my soul.


Max Ehrmann

Thankful and smiling

… it was a wonderful day. Flying in the morning, home for a while and then back up to the airport to change oil and recalibrate my horizon on the iEFIS flight computer. Was to dark when I finished to get back up and fly, so a quick trip by Basha’s to pick a few things up including a half dozen fritters, doughnuts et al. After 5PM the bakery boxes everything up in half dozen and dozen boxes … $1.99 for six. Yum! 


I took this shot of Russ and Maria in their motorglider this morning; we are west of Sedona about eight miles at an altitude of about 6800’ and on a flight path that took us to Casner Mountain. The north western part of the Verde Valley is below us, then the rim where the Coconino Plateau breaks off, the plateau above the rim and in the distance the San Francisco Peaks with a beautiful cap of snow on it. We continued to fly formation for a few miles more whilst they flew straight line and I moved in and out and up and down getting shots of them. At Casner, they peeled off and headed back to Payson and I climbed to 12,500’ while heading up to the peaks. Winds were in the high 20 kt range at altitude at the peaks, but in a direction that I was able to work the orographic (ridge) lift in front of the mountain. The wind was roughly at 80 degrees to the peaks and thus when it strikes the mountain slopes it bends the airflow up the slope and when flying close to the slope it will give you lift and a good climb rate; I had close to 800’ per minute in front of the slope. Much fun! 

Have a joyous and happy Thanksgiving day … partake of wonderful food and the company of friends and family. Keep breathing and smiling for life is truly good. 

Back Monday morning 




Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am;

and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope.

And though age and infirmity overtake me,  and I come not within

sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life;

and for time’s olden memories that are good and sweet; and may

the evenings twilight find me gentle still.


Max Ehrmann


Best of the best


… well, maybe yes, maybe no, but it is one of my favorites from this morning’s flight. Bob and I spent about two and a half hours covering the beauty of the morning ranging from Sycamore Canyon to fifteen miles or so E of Grand Falls, Kendrick Peak and just kind of all over the place. Strong winds aloft so we stayed a respectful distance from the Peaks. About a month or so ago I sent out an almost identical photo of Kendrick Peak, except that, that photo showed the peak blazing with fall colors and now it is snow all the way down from the peak which is 10,425’. ‘Twas a beautiful day in the sky. 

Made a trip down to the ponds late afternoon and got some great shots of a couple of ducks jumping from water that was a rich gold from the reflections off the hills in the distance … have not uploaded them yet, but it looked like there were a few that were exceptional. Home for a gourmet dinner of hotdogs, baked beans and a salad … One feasted on salmon primavera.  

Time to wrap the day and hoping for another flight in the morning. Hope your day was good … the quality of your day is always your choice as how you choose to perceive it … keep breathing and keep smiling. 




Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am;

and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope.

And though age and infirmity overtake me,  and I come not within

sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life;

and for time’s olden memories that are good and sweet; and may

the evenings twilight find me gentle still.


Max Ehrmann

Sweet flight

… I got this shot of a Great Egret a few days ago down at the ponds; saw him there again yesterday, but didn’t get a good shot … so it goes! This is the first one I have seen down there, but friends tell me that they do frequent the Verde Valley. I love hunting for wildlife and getting the action shots; shots where they are just standing or perched are okay, but it the action that really attracts me to them. Took this shot with the Canon 1D-X, 100/400mm lens, ISO 400, f5.6, 1/2000th and spot focus using al servo hi speed shooting raw format. I shoot with the images recorded to both cards in the camera which is a just in case scenario if one card goes bad.


Clear skies in the morning and I think a lot of snow accumulated on the peaks so it will be a flight up there in the morning and see how it looks … maybe there will be snow on the other peaks and volcanic cones too. Ten hours and I’ll know … possible there will be some low clouds too with the peaks protruding above them … hopes for all kinds of good things and you will be getting the best of the best tomorrow night. 

Lots of inside work today … One was not thrilled with the cool wet outside and spent less than ten minutes out there this afternoon.  

Time to wrap it … hope you had a wonderful day too and that tomorrow will be a repeat … breathing, smiling, friends and family and all the other good stuff. 




And in this journey over a thousand hills and valleys called life, he is wisest who

is patient where the way is hard, has faith when he does not understand, and carries

into the dark places the light of a cheerful heart.


Max Ehrmann

It’s raining


… I get to spend a day at home in the rain and perhaps contemplating the need to reform myself, however unlikely that may be. More than likely I will be sorting through gems that I have not looked at in a long time, working on photographs for calls and enjoying the gentle art of doing nothing … thinking, reliving great soaring moments and thinking of new sailplanes … and the additional time I can spend pursuing my love of wildlife shooting when I am not chasing clouds. 

And I got this shot just as it started this afternoon … I finally decided that it is time to pursue more of the wildlife and get the inflatable boat so I can get on lakes and shoot from water level. My friend Russ is handling the sale of Mariah as I continue to fly her until she is sold. And there is always another sailplane to be bought if I decide I made a mistake at some moment down the road … like this one that my friend Jaroslav makes: I love the long wings and high glide ratios of these ships and the jet engine is pretty cool too; he also makes the 304CZ which was the ship I owned before Mariah.  

A couple of neat soaring videos for your pleasure: and an early John Denver one at 

Although I am very much a cat person, please do watch this video that Purina has put out … a good message of healing from Puppy Power and they are donating a pound of dog food to a shelter for every view the video gets so make sure you watch it again and again and forward it on to others. Besides it is one of those feel good videos that a lot of people need right now … puts everything in perspective. SJoE_lNQdHU 

Four links is about the most I can put in an email without triggering everyone’s spam filter so that is it for links. I had a beautiful weekend, flying down to Scottsdale a couple of trips to the ponds, visits with friends and a couple of naps. It is supposed to be raining when I awake and if so the plan is to shut my eyes and listen to the rain on the roof and skylights and go back to sleep. At some moment my body will insist on an infusion of espresso and then the day will start. 

Have an absolutely beautiful day … Thanksgiving is coming and I just took my turkey breast out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge … golden potatoes riced with butter and gravy and a salad to top it off. Yum!!! 

Remember to remind yourself what a cool thing it is to be breathing and let a smile work its way across your face. 




 I bring but this one common thought, my life has wrought;

That from the dregs of drear despair, still everywhere

There is a joy I yet may sip – Tis comradeship

With all mankind, the high and low

I know.


Max Ehrmann

Got you back


… today was one of those days where plans go out the window and you are busy doing everything but what you planned … still, a good day and this afternoon I ducked out for a quick trip to the ponds and see if I could jump a few ducks. This is a great time of year to shoot, the ducks are beginning to come in and the colors in the trees and grasses lend beautiful colors to the water … and the newly arrived ducks are still spooked from being shot at all the way down here; those that have been here for a while just kind of smile and swim off … no big deal, Grussing is carrying a camera and not a gun. There were some new ones, in several ponds they did jump. Formations were very tight for some reason and this drake Widgeon was fitted in the slot just over and behind what looks like a hen Ringneck. Check the beads of water on his breast. I got good shots in two of five sequences. Kept 27 of 141 images.


A good time to buy your calendars for 2017 … go to: and buy one or ten; they make great gifts. And while you’re on the site check out the photos which also make great gifts. 

We’re into the weekend … Thanksgiving next week and Christmas before you know it … wow! Have a beautiful weekend and enjoy yourself … keep breathing and smile, life is good and for now you have it. 




For life holds cheers as well as tears,

Take this old toast from me:

This world a riddle hard you call …

A mess from which you fain would shrink?

Perhaps ‘tis wisdom, all in all.

To learn to laugh as well as think.


Max Ehrmann

On the go

… he probably didn’t make a call on the UNICOM or to the Tower before he decided to take to the air, but this Drake Ringneck duck is definitely on the go and another step or two and he’ll be airborne … think of running down a road and flapping your arms at the same time; naw, much more fun watching this little guy do it with water flying everywhere as he accelerates.
I’ve had a lot of calls for more wildlife shots and am beginning to get out there and search for the shots. All the excitement of hunting without the need to kill my prey … I have Basha’s and some nice restaurants for food, and the thrill of the hunt with a camera is just as real as using the guns … and I get to shoot the same critters day after day if they are still around. It’s actually more difficult to get a good shot with a camera than a shotgun. I use a spot focus and have to lock on with this very small spot before I begin to shoot and then pan the shot and rely on that and the tracking feature of the built in focus system to stay on the duck. Kinda like hunting ducks with a .22 rifle and iron sights. When I lock on and stay on I get amazing results for sometimes up to 40 or more pictures … if not, 40 or so shots only worthy of the bit bucket. Always fun and what a treat when you do a quick check after shooting a sequence and find some great stuff.
Down to Scottsdale again tomorrow and if I have time I want to get some more shots of Lake Pleasant. Cork and I kept our motorhome at the RV park there for several years and fell in love with the lake and area. Those were the days when I had a hangar at Turf and did most of my soaring out of there and we were only about five miles from the airport. Good times and now good memories and making more every day.
Max Ehrmann, had a degree in English from DePauw University and in Philosophy from Harvard. He also was an attorney and worked in the family meat packing business; at age 41 he left the business and practice to devote his life to his writing. Near the end of his life he told an interviewer “At DePauw I contracted a disease which I have never shaken off. The disease was idealism. Because of it I did the thing in life I wanted to do – Writing”
Have a positively beautiful day … life is good … we’re breathing and is there really a better way to start and live a day? Methinks not, so smile and share your joy … do what you want to do and never look back!
… do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
… with all its sham drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Excerpts from Desiderata
Max Ehrmann