Monthly Archives: March 2016

A Photo a Week Challenge: Birds

A Photo a Week Challenge: Birds

In response to Nancy Merrill’s challenge:DSC01114


This little guy is eating an olive that fell from a nearby tree.


Video of the Week #40

Video of the Week #40

Wordless Wednesday: Wishing

Wordless Wednesday: Wishing

by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

In Search of the Great Blue Heron

In Search of the Great Blue Heron

To make my physical fitness efforts more palatable, I often take my camera on my walks. The Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, AZ, is located a half-hour drive from my home. The ponds there attract all sorts of waterfowl. One day last month I decided to walk around the Preserve, hoping to get a shot of a great blue heron.


The 110 acres of the Preserve contain eight bodies of water.


The Southeast Regional Library rises from the opposite shore of Water Ranch Lake.


The solid land is veined with trails through desert vegetation. A half-mile concrete loop encircles the lake. Other gravel trails wind among the ponds. Several gardens of wildflowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Education is one of the purposes of the Preserve.  I shared the park with several groups of elementary school children on field trips, families with small children, hikers, and people who, like me, brought their cameras in hopes of capturing creatures with their lenses.DSC01058

An observatory on the grounds is open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights.


Spoiler Alert: even though several species of heron are commonly sighted year-round at the preserve, I didn’t see any. I saw mostly ducks, geese, sandpipers, and rabbits (I posted the rabbit photos on Easter Sunday).DSC01023

Desert trees of all varieties provide homes and food for different species of birds.



I can’t tell what these birds below are, with their heads tucked under their wings. I came back a while later, and they were still sleeping.DSC01050

I think these may be snowy egrets, but I couldn’t get close enough to tell for sure. I caught a severe case of camera envy, me with my little Sony Cyber-shot, surrounded by people with tripods holding impressive cameras with honking telephoto lenses.



Photographs © by Andrea R Huelsenbeck 2016


Oddball, COB Photo Challenge

Oddball, COB Photo Challenge



Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge

Monday Morning Wisdom #43

Monday Morning Wisdom #43

Found on Pinterest:


From the Creator’s Heart #39

From the Creator’s Heart #39

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay (Matthew 28:6 NIV).

Little Magic

Little Magic


I find Elizabeth Gilbert interesting. But I only partially agree with her.

I bought and read Eat, Pray, Love (after the movie—which I never saw—came out). Then I took it to my local secondhand bookstore and traded it for credit.

Some of you know I am a bookaholic (*cough* hoarder). Two new books arrived at my house today. My daughter says, “Why do you still buy books? Duh, you can borrow them from the library for free.”

Eat Pray LoveI did my share of traipsing back and forth from the library with shopping bags full of books every two weeks from the time I was six until my kids were grown. I’ve bought books at garage sales for ten cents. I still buy used books, but if there’s a book I want to read now and I can’t find it used or on sale, I’ll gladly pay $24.95 for it, anticipating a long-term relationship. I like to devour them, and then come back to them again and again to re-digest them.

But one time through Eat, Pray, Love was enough. It didn’t earn space on my bookshelf (or in my closet, or in a box on the floor of my study…). I enjoyed the intimate look at Gilbert’s life and the glimpse of how her brain works, but I’ll never read it again. Her worldview is foreign to me. She credits the universe with the power to answer prayer. I can’t relate. The universe is a created thing. The Creator is the One Who answers prayers.

When Big Magic came out, I wanted it because it is subtitled Creative Living Beyond Fear. Elizabeth Gilbert is nothing if not interesting and creative. Here she is talking with Stephen Colbert:

Yet, as I read Big Magic, I found myself longing for The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Katie, my youngest (but all grown up) daughter, visited and found Big Magic in my study. “I read this,” she said.

“Yeah, I’m a little disappointed in it,” I said.

“Me, too. But why?”

“I bought it hoping that it would take me to the next level in my writing. But it’s not that helpful.”

“That’s because you’re already creative. This book is for beginners.”

Katie’s evaluation is right on the nose. If you’ve always wanted to do something creative, but held back for fear of not being good enough, this book may be just the kick-start you need.

So, the mini-review of Big Magic is: it’s not The Artist’s Way; it’s more Creative Lite.

Big MagicBut let’s go a little deeper.

On page 86, Gilbert says, You do not need anyone’s permission to live a creative life. I’m disappointed in that, because most books on creativity start out by granting readers permission to express themselves.

Gilbert characterizes ideas as being entities having lives and agendas of their own. Their main agenda is to be given birth as art. So they go around suggesting themselves to likely hosts. In other words, the idea approaches you. You can squash it or ignore it. You can let it wait until the spark dies. You can suggest it move on. Or you can run with it.

Then Gilbert tells the story of a wonderful novel she began writing about a spinster from Minnesota who falls in love with her boss and goes to the Amazon. Gilbert had a contract for the book and did extensive research. She invested a great deal of time and effort into it. Unfortunately, events in her personal life intervened, and she temporarily set aside the novel.

When she went back to it after a two-year hiatus, it was dead. Though she tried to resurrect it, nothing she tried could bring it back to life.

One day, when telling her friend Ann Patchett about it, Patchett told her she was currently writing that book. In fact, she got the idea right around the time they first met each other. Gilbert says the idea transmitted itself to Patchett when she gave her a kiss.

Interesting. But total b.s.

Not that people don’t independently come up with the same original idea as someone else all the time. Gilbert says in her book,

When the nineteenth-century Hungarian mathematician Janos Bolyai invented non-Euclidean geometry, his father urged him to publish his findings immediately, before someone else landed on the same idea, saying, “When the time is right for certain things, they appear at different places, in the manner of violets coming to light in early spring.”

In the late 1990s to early 2000s  I wrote a novel which never saw light of day. I am in the process of rewriting it, but I’m keeping several scenes from the original manuscript. One pivotal scene that I can’t (or don’t want to) leave out is going to seem ripped-off from The Hunger Games, even though I wrote it a decade before Suzanne Collins and she never kissed me. Sigh.

Gilbert tells some great stories in this book. If you like Lindsey Sterling’s story about being The Only Pirate at the Party, you’ll love the section called Walk Proudly (pages 260-264).

blogging-15968_1280Some good advice Gilbert gives in Big Magic:

  • Stop complaining if you want to live a more creative life (page 117).
  • Don’t quit your day job. Most artists don’t make a living from their art and must have a back-up job to free themselves from the burden of expecting art to pay the bills (pages 151-156).
  • Don’t think that success looks like money or acclaim. If you love what you’re doing, that’s success (pages 182-184).
  • It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Translation: get an agent (page 193).
  • When you have no inspiration, follow curiosity (pages 237-239).

However, in my opinion, some of her advice is flawed. She also says, “Whenever anybody tells me they want to write a book in order to help other people, I always think, Oh, please don’t…I would so much rather you wrote a book in order to entertain yourself than to help me” (pages 98-99).

I suspect most of Big Magic was written for Elizabeth Gilbert’s own entertainment. It certainly wasn’t her intention to help me, and she succeeded. Big Magic will get traded in for credit next time I go to the used bookstore.

In the Meme Time: Eh…Again

In the Meme Time: Eh…Again

Found on Twitter. Similar to Earth–Eh?

Earth eh