Monthly Archives: June 2017

Quiet times

… mid-January, late afternoon looking up Sycamore Canyon from near the end of the canyon. Sycamore creek wends its way from the lower right corner upstream through the canyon;  low clouds obscure the San Francisco Peaks and Kendrick Peak while from the left horizon, Bill Williams Mountain and Sitgreaves touch cloud base. No sign of humans, and life continues as our little planet hurtles through space circumnavigating our star the sun and collectively our solar system is circumnavigating the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way … the journey will continue until it doesn’t and at some moment in what seems to us the distant future, earth will cease to exist. It is helpful that our life spans are so short as we do not sense or appreciate the constant change that our home is constantly experiencing … I like us, but there will be a time yet to come when we may not be and that is okay too … we will have played our part in the evolution and life of our planet and perhaps we will find a new home, somewhere out in the stars … sweet, but if not, that is okay too. For now, we can appreciate life on planet earth and the special quiet times and places where we can ponder life and our role in it and in a few hours I will be back at it and beginning my day with multiple shots of espresso … life continues.

I think I got a lot done today … pretty sure I did … some important things, like  ordering two bottles of Tabasco Chipotle sauce from Amazon, determining  that there are usually 16 rows of corn on an ear of corn and that the number of rows is usually an even number. I finally came to understand that the number of belt loops on men’s pants is directly related to the price of the pants. Better quality ones have seven loops, less expensive have five loops and Dockers have six … I have all of them.

Time to wrap the day and the week. If you are planning on coming north this weekend, rethink it as we are currently buried in smoke from wildfires up here and fire conditions are in a high state of risk.  Check with the USFS for conditions in the forest you are planning on visiting; conditions are not good and in the Goodwin Fire between I-17 and Prescott, there are mandatory evacuations being ordered in some communities. If you do come up, be careful.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend … I’ll be back on Monday the 3rd .




May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit.

Though the world knows me not, may my thoughts and actions

be such as shall keep me friendly with myself.


Max Ehrmann


… as in a mixture of dissimilar things, a jumble or whatever … one of the opals I finished today in approximately the actual size and a photo that Jens just sent me a few minutes ago from a trip our families took together back in 1986 and I think it was on the ferry from Germany to Denmark? Anyhow from left to right, Corky, me, Jogi, Michael and Sus. Terrific memories and thank you Jens; keep scanning.

Another day mostly in the great indoors working on gemstones, out for some PT and then down time listening to another Grisham novel … Sycamore Row, and it is one of my favorites that I have read/listened to of his work. Got some nice yields on a few stones with the Burma ruby coming in at 1.31 ct; had been worried it was going to go south of 1 ct. all the opals turned out nice, the emerald split, oh well, I knew it was a possibility with that stone … to the landfill with that one. The gem silica (chrysacolla) came out a very translucent robin egg blue … love that material and I got a start on the Turquoise.

Time to wrap the day … work on photos in the morning, turquoise in the afternoon and the ISO group over in the evening.

Have a beautiful day, remember those beautiful days already lived, but focus on and live today so that you remain in the present and add to the beautiful days already lived. Smile and share your joy.




If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember.

You are braver than you believe,

Stronger than you seem, and

Smarter than you think.

But the important thing is, even if we’re apart … I’ll always be with you.

A. Milne


… also known as time between overhaul and it appears that this crow is just about at the limit with missing barbules in his feather structure … still everything seems to be working good as he launched from the top branch of this pine tree on the tee box behind our home. Kind of reminds me of how I feel some days :+)  It was hot and One seems to just go through the motions in this heat … me too. The crows are having some difficulty with the heat too and when on a perch their beaks are wide open trying to keep their systems cool; fortunate for me I had a bottle of Purely Sedona, ice cold water.

Supposed to be below 100F here tomorrow with a high of 99F and it will find me remaining in the house working on projects; finished the twelve stones today … eight opals, two gem silica chrysacolla, a ruby and an emerald. There are few things more satisfying than pulling the final polish on a gem quality stone and seeing the beauty that has been extracted from the earth after hundreds of thousands of years waiting to be discovered.

Starting a neat project for a friend tomorrow with a very old and beautiful piece of natural turquoise from the Kingman mines. I bought it about thirty years ago and Keith said he had the piece for close to the same length of time before selling it to me.

I think the photo tomorrow will have to be of some gems … maybe I’ll document the two new projects, (turquoise and also a carved quartz tube) in similar fashion as the large opal project I did a couple of years ago. That is the Molly Stone a 1040 carat top gem quality opal now residing in the GIA Museum in Carlsbad, California. I wrote a peer reviewed article on that project for Gems and Gemology, the quarterly journal of the GIA, and it can be viewed at: .

Got the day started with breakfast at Enchantment Resort … love that place. Have a beautiful day and share the beauty that is life with those you meet and greet; nothing does it better than a smile.



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

What we live for

… early evening a trip to the airport, get the aircraft out of the hangar, preflight it, hop in and belt in, close the canopy, start the engine, taxi to the end of the runway and then apply take off power and accelerate down the runway … faster and then that momentary awkward feeling as you transition from racing down the runway and rotate and transition into flight leaving the earth behind and below … looking into the vast expanses of space and but for the limitations of our equipment we would continue the journey into space.

I took this shot of a Cessna Citation 525 taking off at sunset one evening and he was climbing out at a few thousand feet per minute heading for ….  Oh well, some day it will happen and in the meantime we can dream and imagine it every time we start down the runway … will this be the time when we suspend the natural laws and break free? Go Bezos, Musk and all the others trying to make it happen!

A cooling trend coming up this week … YES …

Into the new week and it does look like it will be a beautiful week … friends and fun things … putting the final polish on twelve stones tomorrow and then a few complex carving ideas I have been thinking about will be attempted … one thing I know is that it is not unusual for some of these things to work in my mind, but not in reality. They really look neat to me so I hope they work; first is about an 8mm hollow piece of quartz, high polish in and out with holes drilled facing forward to take a round blue sapphire and side diamonds. The trick will be to convert the concept to reality. I’ve done some more complex pieces in black jade before, so hope this will work. A turquoise project begins this week too … maybe some in progress shots along the way.

Time to wrap the day and it has been a good one … hope yours was too.

Smile and share the joy you find in the moment … that is where you are and so am I :+)



At nightfall…though I know I shall sometime no more

Open my eyes to the light or day, I am one who looks at stars when

Unchained from the work-bench at Nightfall.

They are a sign that I am not ephemeral,

Not you, nor you, whoever you are.

The dawn comes and the dark and the sign sparkling in the brooding night,

Forever and forever.


Max Ehrmann

looking forward

… to the coolness of fall … this is a shoot from last September down at the ponds in Page Springs. It was near days end and the Great Blue had a pretty relaxed attitude as he flew along the water occasionally dipping his wing in the water and casting his reflection onto the surface of the water and the water reflecting up onto the inner wing. Too warm for a trip down there now with a high of 108F this afternoon, One and I are hiding out in the cool depths of our home. Except for some morning errands I have to run, I think that will be the plan for tomorrow too.

Some cutting projects in progress, a little writing and a lot of ice tea in the fridge … it is nice to not have the pressure of deadlines in the practice anymore and nice to refer work out and focus on a new book I’m reading or a gemstone I am cutting; currently 14 stones dopped up and about 70% completed … opal, chrysacolla – gem silica, amethyst and Oregon sunstone.

Into the weekend for me and I’ll be back Monday morning. Be careful out there in the heat and be aware that the USFS has implemented Stage II fire restrictions in the Coconino National Forest. If you are planning any activities in the forest please check that forests website out for restrictions.  You do not want to be the cause of or caught in a fire out there.

Have a beautiful day and share a smile with those you meet and greet.



I thought that time went sweet and soft and slow,

And left no marks save those of gentleness

That bound you to my life with strong caress;

And you saw naught but all my soul’s deep truth,

No fading bloom, nor form the years bent low,

But ever still the beauty of my youth.


Max Ehrmann

Kendrick … hoping

… I took this shot of Kendrick Mountain on October 1st of 2016 and it was a beautiful day to get the fall colors on the eastern slopes; all across the eastern facing slopes you can see the downed and dead timber left from the Pumpkin Fire, years ago. The USFS is burning this downed and concentrated fuel, from the top down in order to remove it from the landscape; many of the dead trees are still standing and they pose a threat to anyone in the area because they could come down anytime. I’m sincerely hoping that the fires they are igniting do not also take out the  trees or the leaves on the trees that produce these beautiful fall colors too … we’ll see come fall.

In the background top the right side of Kendrick are two other mountains in the lineup; first is Sitgreaves Mountain and behind that Bill Williams Mountain. Behind me to the east are the San Francisco Peaks which were also dressed in beautiful fall colors. Fall … cool weather to look forward to. Think we hit 108F in the Village today and hotter tomorrow. Other than an outing with One after 7PM tonight I explored the great indoors all day; finished another audio book “The Litigators” by Grisham and thoroughly enjoyed it. Started another book tonight and am pondering a flight first thing in the morning before it heats up. I do love cool :+) Kinda fun to wake up late (6:30) and then just relax, listen to a book and infuse espresso. I’m convincing myself I think … espresso and relaxation.

Stay cool … smile and enjoy the day … help someone else enjoy it too.



So each one to his wish, and as for me,

I sit tonight and wait

To find the answers to my soul in me,

And in the beauty of the sky and sea.


Max Ehrmann


… on the east side of the gap between Long Canyon and Oak Creek Canyon there are some really neat areas that are hidden from view; at least I’m not sure where you could get a peek into them, so here they are … emerald green treasures in incredibly rugged terrain. I see this almost every time I’m returning from the Flagstaff area, flying on a 45 for entry to a left downwind for Rwy 3 in Sedona so decided to shoot and share it.

A very hot day and more coming up … enjoying the beautiful world of the great indoors. The sky is starting to look like the monsoons may be starting and looking forward to them and the beautiful skies that come with them.

Time for a wrap, have a beautiful day and share a smile or three with those you meet and greet today.




O Passer-by, O passer-by!

Have you good words of me

Upon your lips as I draw nigh

To you each day?

If so, I ask

That you’d them say,

For soon I’m gone and cannot hear,

So speak the kindly word

I beg, and smile while I’m yet near …


Max Ehrmann

Unfiltered … breathe deeply

… I flew early Saturday morning and as usual the air quality throughout Northern Arizona sucked as the USFS continues its policy of managing fires; that is to say that they take a naturally occurring fire and not only let it burn its natural course, but use it as an excuse to expand the fires way beyond what it would have naturally burned. Sine the original fire was a wildfire (usually a lightning strike) they can keep it going through additional aerial and ground ignitions and all without the necessity of obtaining approvals from the EPA or in our case the ADEQ. So where the natural fire may have burned out in a few days or a week or so, they can and will keep them going for weeks on end without regard for human health … or tourism.

Who in their right mind would want to spend their time and vacation money to visit the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Lake Powell, The Painted Desert, Sedona, Payson or any of the other beautiful areas in Arizona when after spending thousands of dollars, this is what they get to experience? If the USFS would compress their burns to a few weeks or a month a year, that would be tolerable … but the endless weeks and months of this is pure insanity. Darn good thing there is excellent medical care available for those with respiratory ailments in Flagstaff, and you know you are safe, because the EPA has forbidden anyone to smoke a cigarette inside or near a public building … my gosh, can you imagine how much worse that would be?

This is what it looked like in every direction; according to releases from the Fire Incident manager it was to be worse today and much worse for the next several days and this is managed, make that optional, burning to achieve worthy goals, perhaps, but totally taking the factor of human health and impact on businesses out of the equation.

While I did get the autofocus to work on this shot, I eventually had to go manual because there was not enough contrast to get a focus at lower altitudes.

A word to those who fly drones … do not ever fly your drones within five miles of these fires. There are TFR’s (Temporary Flight Restrictions) for pilots in these burn areas. This particular fire has a five mile radius, surface to 12,000’ msl. Today a wildfire started a quarter of a mile from residential areas in Williams, and they could not get the helicopter in to do water drops because some idiot was flying his drone over the fire getting a video of it. They did locate the drone operator, he got it out of there and then they were able to get the helicopter in and suppress the fire before it spread to the residential areas.  If you are flying in there, they cannot … you would only lose an inexpensive drone, they could lose their lives. Treat all fires as having a TFR for you too. I usually fly at least a thousand feet above the TFR ceiling just to make sure there is no actual or perceived interference.

So what are we looking at? Actually an incredible view of the area. Starting lower left you have a portion of Lower Lake Mary and Lake Mary Road heading up towards Flagstaff, to the right of that a third of the way up is Walnut Canyon and about midway on the left is Pulliam Airport and to the right Flagstaff. Mt. Elden and the San Francisco Peaks, center right, and above and to the left is Kendrick peak from whence a river of smoke is flowing into Flagstaff and to the left of that is either Sitgreaves or Bill Williams Mountain. Kinda think the later and Sitgreaves may be tucked behind Kendrick. Really a beautiful sight if the air is clean.

A very warm smokey week coming up … heading down to Phoenix in the morning for some clean air :+)

Have a beautiful day and week … we are here … we are breathing and we can make a wonderful day for ourselves and others.





I sat with the stars on the hill of life

And looked at the world below.

I ran with the winds where winds begin

And followed them where they blow.


I lay by the sea on the beaten rock

And rode on the farthest wave,

I watched by a child on its night of birth

And followed it to its grave.


And love in the still of the star flecked night,

When earth was all strewn with gold,

Has lifted my heart like the chords of song

Oft sung in the worlds of old.


And though I have not understood all of this,

Made up a laugh and a wail,

I think that the God of the world knows all,

And someday will tell the tale.


Max Ehrmann


… my new attitude towards the ever present polluted skies we have due to continuing burning operations by the USFS has reached a level that can best be described as one of indifference. I cannot remember a day in weeks where we have had clean air. Many days are reminiscent of the LA Basin and as far as you can see, smoke is in the air. A wildfire starts which maybe would burn out a small area … enter the managed burn concept … the naturally occurring fire was fortunate enough to have started in the midst of say a 55,000 acre area that they want to burn. Lucky for them that this is classified as a wildfire and now they get to manage it; that translates into adding new ignition areas, defining the area they want this fire to go even though it would never go there by itself and so for weeks on end, they keep the fire going … the real kicker is that since it was originally a wildfire, they do not need to get EPA or ADEQ approval for what they do.

Thursday at 6PM a meeting focusing on smoke will be held at the Summit Fire District, 6050 E. Firehouse Lane in Flagstaff and specifically it will be about the Boundary Fire in the Kendrick Mountain area. So five people showed up in Sedona, maybe more will show up in Flag on Thursday? Why bother? from the Sedona agenda they put out it was mostly to explain to us why they do what they do, and why we should just accept the smoke. The idea of using the EPA suggested covering of piles with plastic to dry it out and burn clean is basically ignored … too much work to cover a pile with a few bucks of plastic to reduce the smoke output …

Take a look at the photo attached; I took this shot this morning from just west of Kendrick Peak from an altitude of 14,000’ and looking towards the ENE. Still snow on the peaks , smoke everywhere. To the right of the peaks is Mt Elden and below that is Flagstaff. This is what it has looked like for the last four, five … who knows how many weeks … another summer of smoke appears to be unfolding. From the ground it usually looks a little better because you cannot see the widespread smoke/haze, but that whitish haze against the mountains? That is smoke.

I going to miss shooting the downed and dead logs they are now burning on Kendrick, as they make fantastic abstract photographs as they slowly return to the earth, rotting and providing nutrients to the soil … and put no smoke into the air. I hope they do not overdo the burning and take out or damage the aspen that provide such beautiful colors in the fall. We’ll see.

A great day and flight, trailer hitch installed whilst flying and then home and drove my Yamaha Zuma II back and had new tires put on it. It handles much better with the new tires as opposed to the sixteen year old tires it had … made me nervous. Fun dinner with a friend and back up to the airport early in the morning and a return to the air. Appointment late afternoon in Flagstaff and then dinner with a friend up there.

Life is an adventure … Some things you can change and some things you cannot. I love the Serenity Prayer which is read at each and every AA meeting.

Have a beautiful day



The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen.


… have consequences and in the selection of your art form will lead you down an artistic path which separates you from others. In visual arts involving the capture of images you have the choice between the momentary glimpse and capture of life and the continuing capture of life as it occurs which is the video. At about age fourteen I had already made my choice to pursue the momentary glimpse of life, frozen in a fraction of a second and from this momentary and transient image you tell a story about that which you have captured. If you have done it right your audience will continue to come back to the image and have a sense of wonderment whether it is the beauty or the mystery of the image. The video captures a short history and through the intertwining of other stills or clips tells a story which the artist hopes will bring you back time and again.

I got an email from a very good friend laying me low for my lack of storytelling and blending in other views and media in my recent ride up Schnebly Hill Road, and he is absolutely correct in his assessment of what I did. I do intend to do better, but it will be in the sense of these videos that I continue, pure action and an effort to mix in other perspectives; everything in my artistic history is to tell a story or display the beauty that can only be captured in a fraction of a second and not over a timeline of minutes or longer. Wing positions and splaying of feathers is lost when seen in real time in a video, but when you capture that moment in a fraction of a second you get to see things you cannot see while watching the event in real time. So I am an artist of fractions of a second … happily I have friends and relatives whose talents are in the other sector … but I intend to be more innovative in the story line art form going forward … stay tuned. This friend, by the way, is a huge fan of my camera art and I have very high respect for him, his expertise and advice.

I guess the point is that to attain a high skill level in whatever you choose in life, it is necessary to work on the skill sets required for the choice and the skills are not necessarily transferable to other choices … I’m still very much a novice in the skills of story lines … thank you friend!

I took this shot of One tonight as she was out on her early evening hunt and there were just a few seconds when the sun illuminated the grasses she was using for cover and except for her eyes, left her concealed … no kills tonight so she selected some prime blades of grass for a salad before getting her tuna for dinner.

Nice flight this morning and got some good video of Schnebly Hill Road; due to the wide angle of the GoPro camera I didn’t get the footage I wanted, so will give it another go with the Canon 5D MK IV and a 100mm lens on it to shoot the length of the road. Gets a little tight flying between the mittens and the plateau to get the requisite angle to shoot the road. Have to be quite close to one or the other. I will get it!

‘twas an absolutely wonderful day today and tomorrow shall be the same. Flying early and then getting the trailer hitch put on the SUV (boat is due in two weeks), and then dinner out three consecutive nights … Yay!!!

It is so great waking in the morning … another day to be lived … choose well as it shapes subsequent days and always smile.




May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit.

Though the world knows me not, may my thoughts and actions

be such as shall keep me friendly with myself.


Max Ehrmann