Saturday, May 22, 2010

I am the Cheeto Bandito......

I felt that this Raven need a post all his own.

While traveling through the Petrified Forest at one of the stops we encountered this raven. He was obviously used to humans and how to finagle a treat or two from them.

I squatted and talked to him and told him how it wasn't healthy for him to eat junk food, but he just wouldn't listen. So I said ok, but just a few, and asked Guerdon to hand me some cheetos. (unfortunately one of my junk food weaknesses).

He gratefully gobbled them down and I climbed into the car. Off we drove to the next overlook.

When we returned to the car there stood a raven. Could it be? The same raven? or were they all "trained" that way?

We decided that it was indeed the same raven, because when we drove off we saw him overhead flying over the car. Next stop there he was.

After that we drove too far and too fast for him to catch up. But from that point forward every time we see a raven in a parking lot we joke about how he followed us there from the Petrified Forest. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

We just flew in from Vegas and boy are our wings tired!

Introducing the latest members of the Wrensong family.....Zazu and Buzz, two lineolated (also know as Barred Parakeet, Bolborhynchus lineola) parakeet boys. Zazu is the cobalt blue and Buzz is the normal green.

I had been wanting to have a parrot type bird again and was researching all the different breeds. When I read about Linnies I realized that I had found the perfect bird! They are small and quiet, other than an occasional jungle yell (which I have yet to hear) and can learn to talk. So far all I've heard are these cute little whistles and buzzing noises that I could sit and listen to for hours (like I need another excuse to be in the computer room.....):P

Once I decided on type I started looking for the perfect breeder, someone who handraised the babies and fed a proper diet and had their birds best interest at heart. I had originally e-mailed Bonny of Winddys Wings and she put me in touch with Sharron in Kingman Arizona. I was put on her mailing list for when she had some new babies hatch and when they did I sent her a deposit. I had originally thought I would just get one but then decided he would be a lot happier with a companion during the day when I was at work, so decided on two boys.

Zazu and Buzz left for the long flight to Seattle (by way of Houston) on Thursday. Guerdon and I drove down to Seatac airport and the Continental Cargo building. They arrived in the most fantastically put together crate for travel! They had sunscreen mesh over all the windows and door, a perch mounted inside and all the fruits, vegtables and grains they couldn't possible consume in a couple of days. The drive home seemed to take forever (possibly because of the horrible traffic) and they were SO quiet, other than a little buzz here and there.

When I put them in their new cage they set right off to exploring. Linnies are more of a climber and though they will fly they prefer to stay on their feet. Zazu surprised me by coming right over for some loving which I didn't hesitate to give. Buzz is a bit more stand-offish but he still like some attention.

If you have been looking for a pet bird, I can't recommend this little bird more highly. Please read up on them at: , , and join some linnie lists like the one on Yahoo... Linnie lovers. :) If you still think this is the bird for you, I can't recommend Sharron more highly! (not to mention all the cute Linnie pics!!)

I bought a nice large cage that I could load with toys and a playpen for these boys to be on when I was out in the family room. Here's a pic of the playpen:

Looks like fun, huh? :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Just a glimpse....

Our next stop was Canyon de Chelly. An interesting name for a Navajo and ancient pueblo people.... The name Chelly (or Chelley) is a Spanish borrowing of the Navajo word Tséyiʼ, which means "canyon" (literally "inside the rock" < tsé "rock" + -tsé "inside of, within"). The Spanish pronunciation of de Chelly was adapted into English, apparently through modelling after a French-like spelling pronunciation and is now pronounced d SHAY.

Some interesting information about Canyon de Chelly: Canyon de Chelly National Monument was authorized in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover in large measure to preserve the important archeological resources that span more than 4,000 years of human occupation. The monument encompasses approximately 84,000 acres of lands located entirely on the Navajo Nation with roughly 40 families residing within the park boundaries.

I had originally planned on taking a Navajo tour into the canyon on horseback and by jeep. Unfortunately when we got there we were told the Canyon was flooding and there were not allowing any trips in. I tried to be cheerful about it and telling myself that "oh well, it just means I need to take another trip back", but it was still very disappointing that mother nature chose to keep me out of the canyon.

We made the best of it and toured all along the upper rim. I was still able to get some beautiful shots but it still left me craving more.

The following are shots of Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto, the beautiful rock, canyons and the mysterious cliff dwellings.

If you look carefully in the following photo you will see pictographs of deer and other animals in the canyon wall (this is taken from the other side of the canyon and I don't exactly have the most powerful lens :)) click to bigify....
I typically don't take pics of hogans, not considered proper without the owners consent...but I figured this one wasn't occupied.

One of the locations we visited was Massacre Cave Overlook. It received it name from the following event......On a snowy day early in January of 1805, one of the Navajo villages suffered a surprise attack by Spanish Lieutenant Antonio Narbona and his military expedition deep in Canyon Del Muerto. Most of the men were away hunting in the Lukachukai Mountains. When the old men and women spotted the raiding party, they fled in the snow and took refuge in what is now known as Massacre Cave, high up in the 1000 ft canyon wall and inaccessible from above. The Spaniards located them from the rim and there are still marks on the walls of the cave left by ricocheting rifle bullets. Some of the Spaniards made the hard climb up from below. In one of the hand to hand battles which followed, a brave Navajo woman pushed a Spanish soldier backwards off the ledge and fell with him to their death on the rocks below. The Navajo because of this call this site The Place Where Two Fell Off.

Spider Rock was the last stop on the South Rim drive and one of the views I had looked forward to the most.
The Navajo believe that the tallest of the two spires that rise 800 feet over the floor of the canyon is home to Spider Woman. Spider woman is an extremely important deity to the Navajo people. Here is her story:

"Spider Woman possessed supernatural power at the time of creation, when Dine (Navajo) emerged from the third world into this fourth world.
At that time, monsters roamed the land and killed many people. Since Spider Woman loved the people, she gave power for Monster- Slayer and Child-Born-of-Water to search for the Sun-God who was their father. When they found him, Sun-God showed them how to destroy all the monsters on land and in the water.
Because she preserved their people, Dine (Navajo) established Spider Woman among their most important and honoured Deities.
She chose the top of Spider Rock for her home. It was Spider Woman who taught Dine (Navajo) ancestors of long ago the art of weaving upon a loom. She told them, "My husband, Spider Man, constructed the weaving loom making the cross poles of sky and earth cords to support the structure; the warp sticks of sun rays, lengthwise to cross the woof; the healds of rock crystal and sheet lightning, to maintain original condition of fibres. For the batten, he chose a sun halo to seal joints, and for the comb he chose a white shell to clean strands in a combing manner." Through many generations, the Dine (Navajo) have always been accomplished weavers.
From their elders, Dine (Navajo) children heard warnings that if they did not behave themselves, Spider Woman would let down her web- ladder and carry them up to her home and devour them!
The children also heard that the top of Spider Rock was white from the sun-bleached bones of Dine (Navajo) children who did not behave themselves!" -from Native American Lore

As we left Spider Rock night was beginning to fall and I took a couple of last minute shots on the trail back to the car.....

The next morning we hit the last two overlooks that we had missed before heading to Winslow for our next nights stay. It always amazes me how life can find a foothold in what would seem to be an impossible place....

A cholla cactus along the trail.....

This next pic is of a wonderful Navajo young man, Pat Tsosie. He, his wife, their baby and her family were all at one of the overlooks. Up until then we had managed to not spend any money and just admire all the handiwork we'd seen on our trip.....I'm not sure if Guerdon or I gave in first but we returned to our car with a pot and four pictograph and petroglyphs done on sandstone from the canyon. :) We were told the story behind each of the designs and how it affected the Navajo people. We learned that the money that he and his wife made from their artwork bought the gas that got them back and forth to college. Their family spent the summers at their home in the floor of the canyon and winters up above. The conversation with Pat and Guerdon started when Pat noticed Guerdon's sunglasses..."Hey, are those Oakleys?" Guerdon told him yes, and Pat said his wife had bought him a pair for Christmas and he loved them. He brought Guerdon over to his truck so he could show them to him and they talked for awhile on the benefits of a good pair of sunglasses. Before we left Pat asked if I would take a picture of him and mail him a copy, my pleasure. :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Walk in beauty......

From a Navajo ceremony:
In the house made of dawn,
In the house made of evening twilight,
In the house made of dark cloud and rain
In beauty I walk.

With beauty before and behind me,
With beauty below and above,
With beauty all around me, I walk

I have always wanted to visit Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly since I was a young only took me until I was 51 years old to get here. I had always admired the Navajo, who call themselves Dine'e "the people". They have a simple view of life and to me it is the best. Appreciate what you have and what is around you, do no wrong, treat others well and it keeps life in the balance. Each day their morning prayers are said toward the east before the sun rises. They express gratitude for their good life, for their livestock, for their land, and the wonders that they live among. This brings Hozhóó (harmony).

I love the Navajo creation story and share it with you now, if you haven't read or heard it before:
Navajo Creation Story

Only the Creator knows where the beginning is. The Creator had a thought that created Light in the East. Then the thought went South to create Water, West to create Air, and North to create Pollen from emptiness. This Pollen became Earth.

Light, air, water, and earth is contained in everything within nature; all of the natural world is interconnected and equal.

All of these elements mixed together, and the first thing created were the Holy People. These Holy People were given the job and responsibility of teaching what is right and wrong. Holy people were given the original laws, then they created the earth and human beings.

The Creator with the help of the Holy People created the Natural World. They created humans, birds, and all of the Natural World was put in Hozjo (BALANCE). This Hozjo (harmony, balance, and peace) is dependent on interconnectedness. All of the Natural World depends on another. The Navajo say they are glued together with respect, and together they work in harmony. To the Navajo this present world is the fifth.

The place of emergence into this level was Xajiinai, a hole in the La Plata mountains of SW Colorado. The Holy People have the power to hurt or help, and centuries ago taught the Dineh how to live in harmony with Mother Earth, Father Sky and the other elements: man, animals, plants, insects.The Dineh believe that when the ceremonies cease the world will cease.

When we left the Grand Canyon we drove through dry, desolate areas where the Navajo called home. They would have a stick built house or mobile home (with the door always facing east) and many had a tradition Hogan not far away. As we approached Monument Valley we started to see signs of the sandstone formations. I started getting excited and when I glimpsed the Mittens it was "the Mittens! the Mittens! Look there are the Mittens!" like I was that young child again. We checked into The View Hotel, owned and run by the Navajo. This is the only hotel actually in the park. It is beautifully built where it blends into the surrounding sandstone. View from our room:Inside the View, I didn't want to use a flash and the colors didn't quite turn out right, but they have beautiful rugs, and artwork everywhere.

We drove the 17 mile dirt road thru the park just before dusk. I don't think I closed my mouth once I was in such awe. They had some bilagaana (white man) names for some of the sandstone monoliths like the camel butte, and the elephant butte, and others more traditional like the Yei Bi Chei. Some of the viewpoints were named Artist's point (though there really didn't seem to be one better view than another to me) and John Ford's Point for his movies filmed there. I tried really hard to pick just my favorite pics from all that I took and was only able to narrow it down to the following. Every second the lighting would change and it would make me stop and take more pics. No view ever looked exactly the same. I'm going to end this blog post with all the views that I wanted to share. Enjoy.