S is for The Secret Garden


I lived in a house on a hill that butted up to a patch of forest and a hill.  It seemed huge to me then; we called it a mountain, and I was sure I could get lost in those woods, even though they were probably only a few miles square.

I liked to go into the woods with a book or a notebook and read or make up stories.  Sometimes both.  My favorite place had a couple of trees surrounding a circular-ish clearing.  It was flat and horizontal, instead of ascending as most of the rest of the hill.

I liked to sit at the foot of one of the trees.  Roots formed a nice seat.  I’d take off my shoes and rest my feet on the cool ground.  Light would dapple in through the leaves.  It was bright enough to read, but never so bright that it got hot.

I loved it there, and it felt secret, even though it probably wasn’t.  I seldom saw other people in the woods.  It was just me, the music of leaves and birdsong, and the characters in my head.

The Secret Garden, by Francis Hodges Burnett, resonated with me because I felt the same way that Mary did.  When she discovered the garden, it was like waking up for her.  Being in my woods did the same for me.


I loved the garden in this story, though when I first read it as a kid, I didn’t appreciate all the metaphors in it.  This book also taught me that people can change.  Both Mary and Colin are ill-tempered, sour children.  But the power of the Magic in the garden changed them.  No adult intervened to teach them lessons.  They had to learn for themselves how to be better versions of themselves.

The idea that people can change blossomed in my brain, and it was a lesson I never forgot. People can change themselves, if they want to.  They have to invite Magic into their lives, and only then can they accomplish wonderful things.

We’re all connected: to nature, to one another, to magic, to love.  We just have to be willing to open ourselves up, put in the work, be aware of what’s around us.

Did you ever have a “secret” place?

“Where you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett

R is for Random

“Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature.”
-Eric Hoffer

Is nature random? Or is it just that we don’t understand the order?

I like the idea that creativity is the ability to introduce order into randomness, to see things in a way that others don’t.  That’s one of the reasons I like taking pictures, even if the same photo has been taken 999 times before.  It’s my picture, and seen through my eyes, which makes it different and unique.

I love random things.  I love conversations that seem random, jumping from topic to topic.  I have a game I play with a friend, where we email one another random words.  There’s no rhyme or reason, no theme, just a series of random words.  Because, why not?

I love all sorts of random things.

Some random facts about me:

1.  I consider myself “geek lite.”  I love science fiction and fantasy, as long as it doesn’t get too much into the actual science or world creation.  I’m good at suspending disbelief.  You don’t have to prove it to me.  As long as it makes sense in the context of the world, we’re good.

2.  I’m really bad at deleting my voicemail and emails.  What if I need them someday?

3.  I actually like the taste of water.

4.  Everything is better with flowers and rainbows.  Pretty colors!

5.  When I don’t wear my glasses, I often get asked “Is that your real eye color?”

6.  Penn & Teller are my favorite comedians/ magicians.

7.  I used to tell people I wanted to be a serial killer when I grew up.

8.  I love pedicures but am indifferent toward manicures.

9.  I love sour foods.

10.  My favorite authors are Dean Koontz, Nora Roberts, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and JK Rowling.  (I could go on.  And on.  And probably on.)

“Expose yourself to as much randomness as possible.”
-Ben Casnocha

Have a random day today.

Hiking Makes Me Feel Old

San Tan Mountains, Photo Credit: Doree Weller

San Tan Mountains, Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I love to hike, and my friend and I have been hiking pretty consistently for the past 4 years. When we started, we only did 2 miles. These days, we do 5 miles in the summer and 7 miles when temperatures drop into the 80s or 90s. I love hiking as it makes me feel powerful, strong, and connected with what little nature we have out here.

Getting in my car after a hike is difficult, and getting out of my car is even more difficult. I swear I can hear my bones creak!  The morning after a hike, I’m usually more sore than I like to admit, and I can feel every muscle I’ve used.  But I do it again, week after week.  Why?  I just plain love it.

I love walking through the desert.  We’ve seen coyotes, rabbits, lots of lizards, birds, scorpions, weird prehistoric bugs.  I even saw a snake once.  We also found a skull of some type of animal, which was pretty cool.

The desert is a harsh place to live, and sometimes I regret moving here.  I miss the green that was everywhere in Pennsylvania.  In the grass we never bothered to water, the trees everywhere, flowers that didn’t really need special care.  We had to water the tomatoes, but if we missed a day, it was no great tragedy.

There are pockets of beauty here, and I’m constantly reminded of them when I hike.  I know when the growing seasons in the desert are, and I know that many things make their homes here, despite how hard life must be.

So even though my bones ache, that’s why I hike.  It’s not bad exercise either!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

Yay!  All things green!  It’s one of my three favorite colors (blue, purple, and green, for those of you keeping track).  It would be easy for me to post al pictures of plants and pretty trees, but I’m not going to do that…

Yummy and happy breakfast at the Olive Mill.

Midnyte loves rolling around in the grass. Or she used to. When we lived in PA and had grass.

My office. 🙂

Hot Enough For You?

Arizona is not the place to go if you want to spend a lot of time outside in the summer.  The longer you’re here, the more you get used to it.  I wouldn’t say we’re stuck inside all summer, just that smart people do stuff outside in the early morning or in the shade.

My friend and I went hiking a few weeks ago.  As we were walking, a ranger passed us and asked us if we were the ones who got dehydrated.  My friend held up the gallon jug he carries.  I said we were fine but didn’t bother to point to my Camelbak, a backpack with a large bladder on it for me and my dog.  He thanked us and went on his way, and we laughed a little about people who don’t know about Arizona hiking.

When I first moved here, I had constant headaches until I learned that in AZ, you always drink twice as much water as you think you want.  Another friend visited from PA, an experienced hiker, and went hiking alone in the Superstition Mountains one day.  When he came back, he said that he hadn’t taken enough water because he had his water filtration kit, but there were no streams or pools anywhere!

The forecast today is a balmy 100 degrees, and I’m heading out to hike later today. I’ll take plenty of water and wear a hat.  And I’ll have a great time!

Ring of Fire Eclipse

Last night, my husband and I made the journey to Northern Arizona, to Meteor Crater in Winslow Arizona, to see the Ring of Fire Eclipse.  University of Arizona students were there, selling special glasses to watch the eclipse.  Really, they were polarized sunglasses so dark that when you put them on, you couldn’t see anything at all until you looked at the sun.  It was really cool.  I’ve been around for other eclipses, but never really looked at one before, and it wasn’t what I expected.

I expected a bit more drama, thought it would get dark as the moon blocked the sun, but that didn’t happen.  The moon and sun passed one another as the sun set, and if I hadn’t had on my special glasses, I wouldn’t have known anything at all happened.

All in all, it was a lot of fun, and I’m glad we made the trip.  Here’s probably my best photo of the actual eclipse, taken with my camera through my sunglasses.

This photo was taken without a filter, pointed into the sun.  As you can see, it doesn’t look like anything is happening.











If you’re interested in the complete photo collection of my adventures, you can take a look at my Facebook page, Doree Weller, as I’ll be importing them there.  Last but not least, if you want to see some good pictures of the eclipse, click this link and it will take you to a news page about the event.

Photos and Real Life

I love taking pictures.  I annoy most people with how often I want to stop and take pictures.  When I go hiking, I could take my camera along every time.  There’s always something new to see, or something old to see in a different way.  I love taking pictures of people, but also the sky, a cactus, a flower, or just an interesting rock.

Facebook has allowed me to become a voyeur.  I steal my friends’ photos.  If they have a great wildlife picture, a great landscape, or just a cool picture of themselves or their child, I download it and keep it for my own.

My office has pictures and quotes hung everywhere.  On the walls, on the doors.  I’d have some on the floor if I didn’t have pets.  I don’t know what it is about pictures that moves me so.  Maybe it’s the same thing as writing a story.  In that moment, in that instant, I’m seeing something in a way that no one has ever seen before.

Photos never quite capture the reality.  When I look at a picture, there always seems to be something missing, which makes picture taking bittersweet.  On one hand, being able to capture the moment is so very important to me, even if I only capture a shadow of what I saw.  It’s a shame, though, because I’d like to be able to share that one perfect moment with others.  We can never capture perfection though, and maybe we never should.  Perhaps it’s the quest for perfection that makes us all continue to challenge ourselves, to learn, and grow.