Miscellaneous Archives

September 12, 2003


I live in the suburbs of Seattle with my husband. I love traveling, photography, hiking, cooking and hunting for wildflowers.

I developed my passion for travel when my parents took a vacation and drove down Hwy 1 in California. I was hooked. After I married, we took several road trips in the western US and Canada before taking the leap overseas to London.

Many of our trips involve our hobbies of hiking, photography, wildflowers and gardening. Our first international trip was to England to visit the gardens of Wales. We have also made trips to New Zealand, Spain, France and returned to England to visit gardens.

We love to hike. One of our favorite places is Mt. Rainier and my husband climbed it for his 50th birthday. The next year we climbed Mt. Whitney to celebrate my 50th. We try to include hiking in our travels. We have hiked the Maritime Alps of France, the Dolomites of Italy, along the Routeburn and Abel Tasman tracks in New Zealand and craggy spires of Patagonia in Chile. We have also kayaked in Mexico, snorkeled in in Hawaii and Belize and climbed the Mayan ruins of Yucatan and Guatemala.

Our best trip was an anniversary trip to South Africa and Namibia where we searched for spring wildflower on the veld and wild animals in Namibia. We have also spent our vacations visiting the different areas of the Mediterranean biome (Southern Europe, California, Chile, South Africa and Western Australia) to study flora and wildflowers.

I've also had the opportunity to live and work in Europe - another dream come true. I worked for three months in the Netherlands in 1990 and again for 6 weeks in 1996. We learned how to shop, use the appliances, live without a car and open our minds to other cultures. In 2007, I studied for 4 weeks at an intensive French language school in Villefranche sur Mer - Institut de Francais.

We have also traveled to more diverse locals. In 2009, we spent two weeks in Borneo - East Malaysia. In 2011, we spent two weeks in Western Turkey exploring Istanbul and the Aegean ruins. We have also visited the tropical US with several trips to Hawaii.

You can also find more photos on our personal website - MartaGeorge and check out my Flickr photosteam

Updated: Jan 2, 2012.

February 13, 2004

Giving up caffeine

I never really thought it was a problem. Caffeine that is. I have been a coffee drinker for a long time. I wasn't getting the jitters or shakes. Nothing like that. It was the headaches. I have had them off and on for a while but they got really bad in January. I couldn't figure out what it was.

I have always attributed the headaches to some type of sinus or allergy. I never understood if the headaches were due to sinus why sinus medicine like Claritin never made any differences. Besides, it was too early for sinus problems. There is nothing in bloom in January. Maybe it was the dry office. I did notice that the headaches started on Monday and lasted through Friday, but I didn't get them on the weekends. Got to be the office building. Hmmm... But there was something else different. I didn't drink as much coffee on the weekends. I would have one espresso and that was it on the weekends. Could it be caffeine?

I started drinking decaff at work at the beginning of February. After just a few days, I noticed a difference. The headaches were gone, my mood was much better, I had more energy, I was feeling much better. My goodness, it was the caffeine.

I would have a cup of coffee at home in the morning. I would still have a bit of headache. So I finally decided to stop all caffeine on Wednesday. I don't feel as much of a difference this time. I do yawn a lot but I'm not ready to fall in bed after a glass or two of wine.

I've read a bit about caffeine. It may be a while for me to totally withdraw from it. I have read a bit about how caffeine works and it may be six weeks until I have it out of my system. But it has been great.

I had also been a drinker of caffeinated soda since I was seven years old. Or at least until January 2003. I gave up sugar sodas to help lose weight which really helped. 150-200 calories per can and I was a heavy consumer of 3 cans a day. That is 500 extra calories! Soda is free where I work so it was so easy to drink. But I put on the pounds drinking soda after soda. It is much harder to not drink a soda than to avoid coffee. Avoiding coffee has been real easy. But soda, the cravings are still there. Yes, even after a year.

March 29, 2004

Spring Fever

It is an absolutely gorgeous day today. It is 78 degrees!!! That must definitely be a record for March. I went out at lunch to get dinner and I could feel the warmth even as I left the building. I am definitely going to go for a run today although I bet Green Lake will be a zoo.

It is time to start to make some travel plans for the Whitney climb. I think I have all the places choosen and some of the day hikes. I may do that tonight.

This weekend was the pits. I hate being sick. I finally caught George's cold on Thursday and I spent the whole time sniffling and sneezing. Thursday night was winers and we had a French Burgundy tasting that was really great. Fortunately, I never lost my taste so everything was yummy. But I felt lousy on Friday and slept a lot Friday and Saturday while taking mega doses of C. Did the trick, because I'm much better. But I did get my trip report done for Tucson.

On the dinner plate: Sockeye Salmon with mixed green salad
In the wine glass: 9th Island Pinot Noir
On the turntable: Anne Lennox Bare
On the nightstand: 100 Hike in Central Sierra

May 28, 2004

Union Restaurant

God we have been in such a rut. It is so tough when it is spring and G is busy with plant sales and working in the nursery. Plus there is so much to do ourselves in the yard. It has been ages since we have been out to dinner or even ventured together to downtown Seattle. But the plant sales are done so I suggested that we go to dinner.

E-Gullet has been highlighting a thread on their board about a new restaurant called Union. It is at the south end of the Pike Market near the Seattle Art Museum. It sounded very interesting. I was torn between going to Rays for some good Copper River or trying something new. It is somewhat hard with G because he doesn't eat meat, only fish, when we go out. So it is important to have a good selection of fish or vegetarian on the menu. He hates it when we go out and there is one fish dish and it has some type of meat in it.

After reviewing the thread, I was definitely intrigued and G seemed to be game for trying something new. So I made a reservation on OpenTable and we planned a nice night out. We gave ourselves an hour to drive into downtown Seattle since it was the Friday of Memorial day. It wasn't bad until we got off on Stewart. It took me almost as long to get from the Freeway to 1st and Union as it did to drive down to the exit. We parked next to the Wild Ginger and we there a bit early for our 5:30 reservation.

We were one of the first for the evening. It used to bug us to be alone in a restaurant but no longer. It is actually kinda nice. The server explained the restaurant concept. Instead of the typical appetizer, salad, entree, there were three courses groupings on the menu. The plates are small so you are able to taste several different items. A person with a good appetite can easily eat three courses. Or there is the tasting menu which has 7 courses and is an exceptional deal for $45.00. But as usual, it included meat so it wasn't an option for us.

We decided to have all three courses and ordered a bottle of french Sancerre. The server brought by an amuse bouche of a bite of poached Cooper River Salmon. It was just cooked to lightly and was very tasty. G started with the Mixed salad with goat cheese and hazelnuts. It arrived in a tower of greens on top of the goat cheese and hazelnuts. Very good. I had an outstanding crab and avocado salad. It was crab and avocado mixed together into a circle topped with miners lettuce and accented with an herb oil. For our second course. G had the softshelled crab. It was lightly floured and fried. It was accented with sauted porcini and saba. I couldn't remember what Saba was until we asked, basically a basalmic like vinegar made from grape juice mosto. Excellent! I had the morel ravioli with favas. The favas were great and the ravioli very good but I didn't get a strong taste of morels.

For third course, I had the beef loin with shallot sauce and grilled young red onions. Perfect. G had the Copper River with morels and peas. It was just as he liked it.

I was not full so I wanted dessert. I toyed with the idea of having the cheese course but wanted something sweet. Most of the dessert menu was chocolate. There was a rhurbarb crisp but I'm not into rhurbarb so I decided on the Chocolate Espresso pot of creme. Very good. I also had a glass of dessert wine from France. G decided on a grappa.

After dinner, we decided to walk up to see the new Seattle Library. What a wonderful building. It is so Dutch in being functional and designed. The entry from 5th Avenue is stunning. It was closed and we can't wait to go back to go inside.

It was so much fun walking around and seeing the buildings. Looking at the design on the Cobb building and the lines and views. I miss not going downtown as much since G no longer works in the market. We must do this more often.

December 6, 2004

Art Walk

Last Thursday we went downtown for the art walk. It has been a while since we visited the galleries. It was the perfect way to spend the evening.

We started the evening with dinner at a rather new restaurant called Crow. It is located on lower Queen Anne. It was fun. They have gotten several good reviews and the restaurant was listed in the Seattle Times Sunday Magazine as one of the hot bistros in town.

We went early (5:30 pm) and we were a bit surprised to find that it was going to be difficult to get a table. There were only one or two tables taken. They usually allow 2 hours for each seatting and had full seattings at 6:30-7:00pm. I explained that we were planning on a quick meal because we were heading out to the Pioneer Square galleries. Perfect. As long as we were out by 6:30 or so, they could seat us.

I don't remember what used to be there. The room is large and open. You can see from the bar through to the kitchen. They have seating around the kitchen which look really fun. You can watch them prepare dinner. I've got to try that.

We looked over the menu. G doesn't eat meat but does want fish on the menu. They only had the fish of the day which was seared scallops with bacon. I know... we could request them to make the dish without the meat. We'd probably do that but we have had a very bad experience at another restaurant where we requested that they not include the meat. The waitperson brought the dish and immediately grabbed it back and said that it was prepared with the meat! So there I sat eating my dish while we waited for them to correctly prepare G's dish. Plus it made us feel so awkward when they quickly grabbed the plate back after sitting it down. It has made us very reluctant to try it again.

Okay, end of long story. We decided instead to order a couple of the small plates along with salads. I ordered the iceburg lettuce wedge with blue cheese. Nicely prepared with an ascertive blue. It came with a half of hard boiled egg and a crinkle cut raw carrot. G had the greens with blue cheese, pear and walnuts. I had a taste and it was nicely done. The vinagrette had a touch of tarragon.

For the small plates, we ordered the curried mussels, Brandade fritters. Both were wonderful but I really liked the curried mussels. We sopped up the broth with the crusty bread. Along with this we each had a glass of wine; G had a glass of Fairview Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa and I had a glass of Kris Pinot Grigio from Alto Adigo area of Italy. We have had both wines before and they were good. My only small complaint is the small pour they do for the glass of wine.

Off we went to the galleries. Our favorites ended up being the two we first visited; Linda Hodges and Global Art Venue. We were amazed at the watercolors by a Polish artist at Global Art Venue. There was also some nice glass.

It was a nice way to spend a Thursday evening.

December 18, 2004

Getting in the Spirit in the NW

It can be so tough here in the far corner of the US to get in the holiday spirit. It is cold, drizzly and dark. The sun comes up around 8am and sets shortly after 4pm. Eight hours but it can feel even shorter when the day is dark and cloudy.

We are not giving gifts this year so we don't have the pressure of running around finding the perfect something. We have gone downtown for breakfast and to look around. It is great not having to be obligated to make purchases.

We also do not have a Christmas Tree. We got out of having one when our kitties were little. We didn't want them to terrorize it while we were at work. We just didn't get back into having one.

But we do like to have a lot of light during this time and do as much as we can outdoors. We have strung lights around the living room and on our fig tree. I purchased a wreath and have a nice bouquet of white flowers, seasonal evergreens and holly. I also pull out a lot of candles to add a warm glow to the room.

This year has also been very mild. It has not snowed this year and there have been few frosts. And we have had several warm sunny days. We have been able to get out on the trail on Saturday. Last Saturday, we went to Tiger Mountain. It had rained heavily the day before and the lower part of the trail was almost a stream. Fortunately, the trail is well constructed so the water is directed off and you can get around the it. It was cool at the top but not freezing.

This Saturday we went to Rattlesnake Ledge. It was so warm that I hiked in just a polypro top. I started out with my wool sweater but got too warm. It was busy. From the view at the top towards Snoqualmie Pass, there was very little snow.

But what else has been nice this year is the mild weather has allowed us to attend several of the outdoor seasonal events. Last Saturday, we went to the Pathway of Lights. We got back from Tiger and remembered it. It has been rainy the past several years so we couldn't pass up the chance to see it without the rain.

We got there shortly after 6pm and they were just finishing lighting the 4,000 luminaries. We parked at the Bathhouse and headed out. It was already crowded. Most people were walking without lights. It was kinda spooky since you really couldn't see if you were about to walk into someone. But it was also so cool. A few people had on short strands of Christmas lights. Several of the dogs had blinking lights on their collars. Around 7pm, the several lighted canoes launched from the Aquatheater. They glided along reflecting from the lake.

On Tuesday, the Christmas Ship sailed from Edmonds to Richmond Beach. The Christmas Ship is pretty commercial but there was a planned bon fire at Richmond Beach. That sounded really cool. Again, it was a rain free night. The ship left Edmonds at 7:00pm and was supposed to arrive at Richmond Beach around 8:10. We ate dinner and headed out around 7:30. It was already quite crowded when we arrived. I didn't even attempt to try to park in the lot but parked a block or so away. You could see the fires from the top and the ships were just coming into view. We walked down the stairs and onto the beach. It was a great fire. It was stacked high and roaring in the breeze. You couldn't stay very long facing it.

The boat arrived and the choir started. They were okay. We walked down along the water to cool off as they sang. We walked back up to the second bon fire as they finished. Looking up the hill, you could already see the cars streaming out and a traffic jam. We decided to stick around and let everyone leave. There is just something about standing around a bon fire on a cold winter night. We went home and had a hot chocolate.


Happy Holidays From Rattlesnake Ledge!

January 24, 2005

Sonoma Getaway

God, I'm getting old. We spent the weekend in Sonoma with friends and I'm exhausted.

We flew down to the Bay Area this weekend for an extended getaway. It all started when Ramkins published their Winter schedule and Judy Witts Francini aka Divina Cucina was teaching a Winter Tuscan Dinner class. Several of us on SlowTrav had said we would take the class. I signed up right way which was a good thing since it sold out.

We also hadn't seen our friends in Bay Area for a while so we made arrangements to stay with them and we would spend the weekend in Sonoma.

Pauline fron SlowTrav found an outstanding rental, Cottage Sonoma. She said it would be big enough for two couples so we wented it. It was outstanding. I loved the Asian/Island style decor. It has two bedrooms, two baths, hard wood floors, a large open modern kitchen, patio, BBQ and hot tub. It was foggy and cold so we didn't take advantage of the hot tub, but the deck and tub would be great in the Spring.

We flew into Oakland. We decided to tour a few of the gardens on the East Bay. Our first stop was the Lakeside Garden at Lake Merritt in Oakland. It has a metal lath house for Vireya Rhododendrons. Many of them were in bloom. It was kinda run down but nice vireya. Great for plant geeks.

Next we headed up to Berkeley and the Fourth Street shopping area. Our destination, Tacubaya, an upscale taqueria. Yummy. G had a mushroom-cheese chile rellano and a fish taco. I had a pork tamale and a beef taco. All was outstanding. I loved the chile aioli on the fish taco and the mole sauce on the tamale was a perfect blend of sweet/bitter chocolate and hot spices. We'll go to Tacubaya again.

Next door is the Pasta Company. I picked up some porcini ravioli, sauce and a piece of Selle sur Cher goat cheese for dinner. At the wine store, we picked up a yummy Chianti from a producer I hadn't heard of but was located in Panzano.

On the way back to the car, I ran into a former co-worker who had moved back to Bay Area several years ago. It was so strange to run into someone you know.

Our dinner that night was fun. We spent the evening talking politics and wondering about the future.

Friday, we lounged around while B worked from home. We did take in back to back viewing of Kill Bill and Kill Bill 2. Tarantino is not one of my favorites. I also don't care lots of violence even over the top stylised violence.

We left shortly before 4pm and made it to Sonoma just around 5:30pm. We dumped our bags and headed out to Cafe La Haye for dinner. Boy oh boy was it good. G had a wild greens salad and taglattini with clams. It was spicy but good. A had mussels in a pernod-fennel sauce and a filet mignon spiced with pepper and lavendar. B had a green salad and the filet mignon. I had the endive, golden beet, dry jack cheese salad. It was great but unfortunately, the pale belgian endive and white cheese ended up not being very appetizing in appearance. My entree was a lamb shank in a great sauce. It was a red wine, broth, and tomate based and was the perfect sweetness to go with the lamb. But was the best was the mustard cooked cabbage. It was wonderful. Along with this we had a bottle of Flora Springs 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon.

We skipped dessert and headed back to the cottage. They had Trivial Pursuit 6. We always play TP when we are together. We play men against women. Several years ago, the women would always win but again is taking its toll. The women were ahead but we didn't finish it so who knows who would have won. We opened a bottle of Robert Craig Affinity and had it with Fran's chocolate truffles. Oh that was good.

- more to follow -

February 18, 2005

Malware Wars

I got hit by a 'driveby download' on Sunday. Yes, it was an unlucky 13th. I naively was reading a message board (not SlowTalk) and clicked on a link. It took me out to a site to provide song lyrics. Those sites are notorious downloading malware/spyware to your PC. If I had only known....

Suddenly, a windows installer box popped up along with lots of different popups. Crap. The dirty little popups also wouldn't let me close them safely by clicking on the upper right corner or right clicking and choosing close. Grrr... Next thing I knew, Norton was popping up left and right telling me a trojan was trying to run. Double grrr.. I checked Add/Remove programs and several pieces of junk software had been installed. My toolbar was changed to MySearch and there was a lot of junk on the tool bar.

I unplugged my connection from the network and started to do some scans. I already had Ad-Aware and SpyBot. They caught quite a few. Next I ran Norton and it found some items but couldn't delete them. Sigh... It was taking at least an hour to scan my machine with Norton. I did some manual deletes. Okay. I thought I was clean. I plugged back into the network. Damn. There went Norton again. They were still on my machine. 4 hours later and several scans, I was back where I started. So I decided to load on XP sp 2 that I fortunately had on disk.

Monday, I mentioned it to a couple of co-workers and did some searches on the virus, etc. One of the coworkers mentioned safe mode. Right... now I remember, I need to boot into safe mode so those little buggers don't load and then I can get them. I also remembered reading a great newsletter by Brian Livingston at Windows Secrets. His January 27th newsletter went into details how many anti-spyware software would miss most malware. It mentioned the new Microsoft Anti-Spyware Beta being one of the best.

I went home early. I downloaded the MS Anti-spyware beta and installed it. It found even more. I spent about 4 hours scanning and cleaning. Everything was looking good. Okay... I booted out of safe mode and plugged back into the network. EEEeeiiiii. There goes Norton again. They haven't left. Time to load on Zone Alarm so even if the bugger is on my machine, I'll keep it in a small cage. I also had a program name to search on.

Now it was time to pull out the big guns. The Windows Secret Newsletter mentioned a great study by Eric Howes. He gives some right-on tips on his page comparing the different anti-spyware programs. It also has a great part on what to do when you have been infected. I did a bit of googling on the offending program. The next step was to run HijackThis and have someone knowlegeable analyse the log. He lists several different forums to get help on the Hijack This log. I used and highly recommend I posted a log in their Hijackthis forum and within a few hours I had a reply. They were right on the mark at getting rid of most of what was lurking. They give clear instructions on what to do and I've seen them stick through some tough cases. I am in support and I work on a message board. I know what the job is like. My hats are off to them. They do a remarkable service. I am also going to send them a donation.

I followed their instructions and thought I was fine. But something was still lurking. I configured my machine to startup with Norton, ZoneAlarm and the MS Anti-spyware software loading automatic on startup. Yes, it takes almost 3 minutes to boot up but it is keeping it at bay.

Shortly after booting up, the MS Anti-spy told me that My Search Bar was trying to change my browser toolbar. It would catch it and I'd delete it. But it was happening everytime I logged in. Hmmm.. They recommending running anti-spyware and anti-virus again. I downloaded a new version of Ad-Aware. It got several items but it was still there when I logged in. I also tried Trend Micro's Housecall anti-virus scan. No luck.

I've had spent almost 15 evening hours to try to kill this. I decided to give it one more try tonight. Whenever I got the message about MySearch bar trying to make a change, I would also get a pop-up about Norton making changes to my browser. Hmmm.. This seemed strange. I was also getting pop-ups for Norton's automatic update. I decided to check the IP address. It went to a strangish location. So I decided to do the Live Update via the software instead. Low and behold, it had a virus definition update. So scanning began again.

I booted into safe mode. Ran updated Ad-Aware. I was clean. I also went though my Windows\System32 folder and noticed an unusual name exe from the 13th. I noted it. Then ran Norton. It found two threats and sure enough one of them was the suspicious file, winbhgk32. It couldn't delete it but I knew where it was... I deleted it from the folder, rebooted and logged on. Nothing. Loaded the browser. Nothing. Woohoo! I think I might have it.

It took 5 days and almost 20 hours!

Lessons learned? A lot!

Keep Up with Windows Update I hadn't kept up with the Windows updates and I suspect that some of the malware took advantage of the vulnerabilities.

Apply Windows XP sp 2 Service pack 2 would have probably helped. I would have at least had a firewall to prevent any attacks on other ports.

Run a commercial Firewall The Windows XP sp 2 firewall is okay at preventing things from coming in but does absolutely nothing once you have something on your PC. A real firewall such as ZoneAlarm will alert you to both programs trying to get in and get out.

Get help I work in support and I couldn't have done it alone. Find a good support board on line or someone who regularly deals with this to help you if you are infected.

February 26, 2005

Malware - Part 2

I thought I was finished and won the battle with malware. But I was wrong! I was still 'bugged' by warning from MS Anti-spyware (MAS) telling me that My Search bar was trying to change my toolbar. It would only happen when I switched between G's account and my account so I didn't notice it until a couple of days had passed and G logged on. I did another scan and found some more remnants of the viruses but I just couldn't get rid of this warning about My Search Bar.

I finally went out to the MAS newsgroups at Microsoft and got a couple of other good pieces of advice. A member found the guid for the program and I was able to search for the guid in the registry. I found a reference to it in 'HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Internet Explorer \ Toolbar \ WebBrowser'. That got it.

I'm also giving SpywareBlaster a try. I'm hoping it will block those critters.

Some other pieces of advice

If you have more than one account on your PC and use XP, turn off System Restore on all the accounts. This will prevent the registry entries for these critters from being backed up.

Boot into Safe Mode (F8 on startup) and thoroughly scan all accounts.

Scan with multiple anti-spyware programs and a virus checked.

Use some type of spyware blocker and keep it up to date.

April 25, 2005

Arboretum Plant Sale

This weekend was the big event, the Arboretum Plant Sale. It was the big event for Smartyplants. I decided to help G and helped out at the beginning. It is always rush at the start. Everyone comes early to get the best selection. Salvias were popular. I could overhear people talking about them and the great selection. I answered what questions that I could and helped backstock the selection. It was fun and overall a good sale.

June 20, 2005

Blog Redux

I have been unable to write using the computer. It is so strange but my mind goes blank when faced with a cursor and a blank screen. I've decided to go back to pen and paper. The physical clinch of the fingers and the sound of the pen scratching the paper; the tactile helps this ancient brain.

I want to start up my blog again and do more than just record the passing day. So much is going on and writing can be a good outlet. But so much of the time I feel distracted … or is it sedated… by the bombardment of TV and the lure of the internet. The ability to focus and concentrate seems to slip away. I look up and the evening has passed. I am going to set aside time in the evening and make an effort to write and exercise my brain.

I'm committed now.

August 22, 2005

Testing Email notification

Last time I went on vacation, I used email to update by blog. I can't seem to see how to do that with MT. That actually might be a good thing. It looks like MT has the reverse which is it will send an email to people who want to know you have updated your blog and who don't subscribe using RSS.

Let's see if it works.

March 26, 2006

SmartyPlants Nursery

I spent sometime this weekend setting up a webpage for G's nursery, SmartyPlants. For now, I just wanted a basic page that lists where he will be selling this year. We need to come up with a full layout of what he wants to cover on the site. I know we will want to have pictures and some basic cultural information. So more to come but for now here it is: SmartyPlants Nursery.

May 9, 2007


Edmonds Ferry
I've been trying to motivate myself to exercise. I need it so bad. I have no energy, my back and legs hurt if I stand for a long period. I was so sore and stiff from my flight back from Arkansas. Then there is the ever expanding waistline. I find it so difficult to get out and move after work. I work a 10 hour day. Add on an hour and half for the commute in and back and there went 12 hours.

My I-pod has been helping. I download a few new tunes and create new a songlist. New tunes always gets me out. And the weather is improving. The temperatures are starting to get above 60 and I don't seem to mind getting out if I don't have to bundle up.

But the best motivator so far has been a new route. I like to walk or jog and my neighborhood route has gotten really boring. We don't have sidewalks in my neighborhood so I walk on the street or the gravel roadsides. The streets are not real busy but you do have to be aware. I have been enjoying the progression of spring blooms in the yards but I live in the suburbs and there is just so much you can get excited about suburban yards.

Puget Sound Vista

A couple of weeks ago, I tried a new route. It is about a 5 minute drive from my house to the ferry dock and the shoreline of the Puget Sound. One street north of the ferry runs about a 1/4 mile with a gorgeous view out over to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Whidbey Island and even Mount Baker. I love the expansive horizon. The seagulls drift overhead. The gardens are a bit more adventurous also.

I've enjoyed this walk for years but what I did differently was to head south and past the ferry dock. It turns out that I can walk along the sound for a good mile to Marina Park. It starts at Brackett's Landing and if I'm lucky and the tide is out, I can walk in the sand for a bit. At the fishing pier, it becomes a wooden walkway along the marina and then over a small bridge and into the park. There is such diversity and activity - it keeps me interested. I love it.

May 15, 2007


I left my cats out this afternoon when I got home from work. We only let them go outside when we are home. They are pretty well behaved and stay in the area. We do have a greenbelt area behind our house. It is a wetland area which borders on a small pond. It is also the street storm drain runoff area. The cats enjoy slipping under the fence and exploring.

Shortly after I left them out, one of them dashed back from the yard and up onto the deck. She sat on the corner looking intently out towards the back of the yard. She was slightly cowering so something had spooked her. I thought it might be the noisy crows.

I grabbed the water pot and walked out to water the peas. I went around by the greenhouses to check the tomatoes and I saw a coyote just on the other side of the fence. No wonder the cat was spooked. She must have also seen the coyote and ran back to the protection of the house.

I've never seen one in the neighborhood. I shouldn't be surprised. I know there are coyotes in the Puget Sound region and there are stories of seeing them in Seattle. And we had a bear last year about a mile away. But this is the first coyote for us.

I'm not certain how to handle it. The cats love to go outside. I'll probably need to make certain that I make my presence known and I don't leave them out late at night.

June 21, 2007

Happy Solstice


Today is the summer solstice. Time for mid-summer night madness. Growing up in California, I never noticed the solstice. Yes, the days became longer but when you are dealing with long over 100 degree F days, you don't think much about how long the day is. You just want to cool off.

It was not until I moved north to Washington state that I grew to appreciate the long lingering days around the solstice. The farther north you go, the longer the day becomes and you also have a longer twilight. The sun sets but the light lingers on; the gloaming. That is such a cool word for twilight.

Here in Seattle, we have a full 15 hours, 59 minutes and 31 seconds of daylight. That means it is light enough to be outside at 5am and at 10pm. Sunset is at 9:12 tonight. But the light doesn't just disappear like it does in California - it lingers and falls like a soft sheet.

I've spent several solstices in France. On one trip back in the early 90's, we discovered the Fête de la Musique. We knew something was up when we saw the huge stages and sound systems go up along the Seine while we were in Paris. In our broken French we were able to discover that all over France they would be celebrating the solstice with music. On the solstice night, we were in Tours. It was a great festival. Street musicians and bands all over the old city that played on into the wee hours of the morning.

But my most memorable solstice was spent in the mid-90's. My company had an office in Holland and I had the opportunity to work for 6 weeks in the spring of 1996. I finished up early in June and we vacationed in France. We spent a few days in Paris and then moved on to the Alpes-Maritime region around Nice and eventually to Corsica. We were in Calvi during the solstice. We rented an apartment just outside of town but not far from the beach. Late in the evening, we walked through the pine trees to the beach. The sky glowed red to orange as we walked into the surf. We treaded water as the sun went down and the warm breeze brushed our faces. Cradled in my husband's arms, we bid adieu to spring.

June 30, 2007

Laundry Day

I grew up in the hot central valley of California. We never had a dryer. Instead we had a clothes line. One of my chores was to hang out the clothes. It was in the sunny part of the back yard. We had planted two fruitless mulberries for shade but made certain the back corner was still sunny for the clothesline. We also grew our tomatoes in a nearby corner.

I would lug the heavy laundry basket down the stairs and out the screen door. It would always slam after me since my hands would be full. My bare feet skipped across the sidewalk path and through the hot grass. I always liked the sheets because they would be fast and easy to hang. I hated socks and underwear. They took forever to hang each individual piece.

And now 30 years later, I have a clothes line again. We decided to put the greenhouse to even more use and strung a clothes line among the tomatoes. It is great. It is warm and the fans produce a gentle breeze. The clothes are dry in no time. Plus they smell sun kissed fresh. A little stiff but very fresh.

Laundry Day

July 11, 2007

A scorcher of a day

The beauty of living in the Pacific Northwest is we have mild summers and winters. It is rare that it snows and rare that it gets above 90 degrees. And when it does, we melt.

Well, today was one of those over-90 degree days. The weather folks had been predicting so everyone prepared. One the way to work, I saw a man walking to work in shorts carrying a briefcase. It probably would have been fine except had was wearing black socks pulled up to the mid-calves. Everyone at work was in shorts and sleeveless tops. It was nice to be in an air-conditioned building.

After work, I went to my French class. The building was sans climatisation et trop chaud. I could barely concentrate and exhausted at the end of two hours.

And now it is 10pm, it is 75. No sleep for me tonight.

July 27, 2007

Team Building

We had a team building event today. I usually don't like this type of event but this wasn't too bad. We are all problem solvers so it was a good event for us.

It was an orienteering game. We were given a map which had spots numbered on it. The goal was to as many spots as possible with your team within 30 minutes. We broke into teams of 6-8 people and then further broke into small groups of 2. You got points for each spot. Some spots could only be visited by one group; others could be visited by everyone.

It ended up being a more physical than I expected. There was a lot of running involved. Our team got second place. We were just one point short.

But the weather was sunny, warm and it was located along the water which helped cool us off. It might be fun to do again. The company who organized it also has public events. I might get G to one some time. If you are looking for a fun team building event - I recommend them.

Meridian Geographics

August 20, 2007

Fall is coming

Something happened this weekend and I can now tell that Fall is coming. That is the beauty of living in Seattle. You definitely can tell the changing of the seasons. Growing up in California, it seemed to mainly be two seasons - hot summer and foggy cold damp winter. But living farther north, the changes are a bit more obvious.

The first change comes when you notice it is getting darker earlier in the evening. The long twilight and light until 9pm are gone. The gloaming starts around 7:30 now.

Next you notice the lengthening shadows and the golden tones in the evening. I love the golden glow that baths the garden after 6pm. The shadows stretch across the yard creating mysterious contrasts.

The days are not yet crisp which confuses the senses. It is still warm. The crispness and earthy smells do not arrive until September. Temperature wise, it is still the dog days.

But it is the trees that are true indicator of the coming change. Driving home today, I noticed the big leaf maple trees were yellowing and other maples were turning red. I took a closer look at the garden and could see the change coming in the linden and the parrotia. The locust tree is brilliant yellow.

Fall makes me sad. I shouldn't be. It is always the start of something new but I hate to see the end of summer. But I am going to extend my summer. Southern France here I come!

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Christmas 001
Okay, I'm throwing in the towel. I've been holding off blogging for a while to entice myself to finish blogging about my vacation in France. I give up. I haven't been working on it for a while and I need to move on. I'm not going to totally forget about it. I hope to go back and post date a few entries. But it is time to move on.

I hope everyone had a great holiday. We had a great time with our friends M&L. We got together the weekend before Christmas for dinner. L brought a wonderful roast from Seabreeze Farm. I roasted it until it was just 140 degrees which left it very tender. L also brought some great potatoes and kabocha squash. I made dessert - Black Chocolate Espresso Cake. A coworker recommended the recipe and helped me purchase some awesome baking chocolate from the Chocolate Man.

Christmas 009

New Years was low-key as usual. M came over and we played Sequence for a while. But everyone said good bye about 10pm and none of us made it midnight.

It was a bit warmer today - above 40 degrees! It has been cold the past couple of weeks. The cat has been very lethargic but today was not bad. We got out and did the Discovery Park loop. For luck, I cooked some black eyed peas. I found some fresh black eyed peas from Friedas and used a recipe from Deborah Madison. This is recipe is close but not exactly what I cooked. The vegetarian recipe I found had onion, celery, green onion, bay leaf, thyme and garlic that was sauteed. After cooking for about 15 minutes, add allspice and chilpote chile powder. To this add, 2 cups fresh peas and 1 quart of water/broth. Cook for about 40 mintues and then add salt and cook until soft - about 20 additional minutes. They were very good. I served them with rice. A nice start to the New Year.

January 28, 2008

Snowy Day

I guess I didn't believe the forecasters. Weather forecasts here in Seattle are pretty unreliable. It was below freezing last week but sunny. It was great to see the sun even if it came with a frost bite. Sunday was cold but the sun was out for the afternoon. I did notice a difference late in the afternoon but it didn't feel exactly like snow. But the forecast was for snow. Not a flake by time I went to bed on Sunday.

I woke up to NPR and the local reporters were talking about the spin outs near Alderwood Mall. Sigh. I really didn't want to have to deal with snow. I looked out the window and there was a good 4-5 inches in my neighborhood.

I decided to bus to work. I usually drive up to the Shoreline Park and Ride and catch the bus from there. We had about 4-5 inches but the temperature was just at freezing so it was slushy. It wasn't to bad of a drive and the traffic was light. The direct bus to downtown arrived right after I got there. I almost got on it but decided to wait for the local run which gets me closer to my office.

Bad move. It turns out that none of the buses were making it to the Park and Ride. I waited about a hour before deciding to go ahead and drive in. The snow wasn't that bad as I got closer to downtown Seattle. It ended up an easy drive.

And wouldn't you know it; I passed three buses! It turns out they didn't go down to the park and ride. Next time I'll catch it at Aurora Village.

January 31, 2008

Off to Slow Bowl

This weekend is the second annual Slow Bowl. This is a Slow Travel Get Together. We had our first GTG last year and it was great fun. We are renting a large house in Paso Robles where we will be hosting dinners and gathering. On Saturday, we will do some winetasting and have the main dinner. Sunday will be a bit more winetasting and of course the Super Bowl. Check out last years photos.

I'm really looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting some members for the first time. I hope the weather is good.

I'm also going to try to blog daily for the month of February. A group of bloggers from Slow Travel are going to give it a try. Maybe it will get me in a good habit. I will be away for the weekend but I have a couple of post scheduled for the next few days to get me going with the group.

February 1, 2008

National Wear Red Day

Today is the day for women to wear red. Not for a red hat day but to remind women of the dangers of heart disease for women. How many of us know of women in our lives who is affected by heart disease. It is a serious factor in my family; much more than breast cancer.

Heart disease and other circulatory diseases run in my family. My father and grandfather both had it. My grandfather died from it and my father had multiple bypass surgery twice.

But it doesn't just affect the men in my family; it also has affected the women. My mother had a stroke which incapacitated her both mentally and physically for the last 6 years of her life. It was a result of high blood pressure and other factors. My sister has also been treated for heart disease.

I watch my blood pressure. I try to keep my weight down. I need to exercise more.

But we all need to watch for signs and take heart health serious. Let today's red dress be a reminder that heart disease is the number one killer of women and we can do much to prevent it.

February 2, 2008


funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Do you ever see a picture that touches something deep in you? This one does it for me.

I sent the Lolcats website to a fellow cat fan. I was surprised she hadn't seen it before since it has gotten so much publicity this year. I check it from time to time but she is now a daily fan. She found this post and is using it for her desktop. I saw it the other day when I passed her office and just said Wow!

February 4, 2008

Another great Slow Bowl Party


Wow! What a great weekend. I just got back from a wonderful time in Paso Robles. You know how sometimes when you repeat a party or revisit a city, that it doesn't live up to the original time or memories. The 2nd Slow Bowl was just as much fun as the first one.

I enjoyed the wineries that we visited this weekend better than last time. We made a repeat visit to Castoro. They have great wines at a reasonable price. We also had a great picnic spread.

The next winery was Tablas Creek. I really wanted to visit this winery because I love Rhone wines and wines made by the Perrin Family. The wines were very good but they definitely need a bit of aging.

Yesterday we visited Justin which is gorgeous. Their wines are more in the Bordeaux style. I had tried several of these last year but I really like them this year. I didn't bring any back but I'm going to try to pick up a few more here. I really loved the Sauvignon Blanc. I didn't think Sauvignon Blanc was a good varietal for the area. I think of it as more of a cooler grape but they do an excellent job.

Justin also has a great restaurant and a lovely B&B. It would make a great retreat.

February 5, 2008

Favorite Super Bowl Commercials

I really enjoyed watching the Super Bowl this year. I have not been a fan of football and rarely do I watch the Super Bowl. I have some fond memories of watching it back in the '60s and '70s. My mother worked for a restaurant and the owners were strong Stanford alumni. I followed Jim Plunkett's career for many years.

But over the years, I've grown less and less interested. Even when the local Seattle Seahawk team was in the Super Bown. But I have become more interested in it recently to watch the commercials.

This year it was definitely a great game. It really helped to watch it with two NY Giant fans at the GTG in Paso Robles. I didn't really have a favorite team but I'm glad the Giants won.

I also enjoyed watching the commercials. There were more than a few losers in this bunch but several that I'm looking forward to seeing again. So here is my top 5

Naomi Campbell and the dancing Sobe lizards
The screaming animals for Bridgestone tires
Training the Clydesdale horse for Bud light
Ugly girl with unibrow for Planter's

And my favorite the Fed Ex Carrier Pigeons

February 7, 2008

Page 123 Meme

The Slow Travel blog-for-a-month group is doing well. Tuesdays and Thursdays can be hard for me because I'm taking French after work. By time I get home, my brain is pretty empty of ideas. Tonight is one of those nights so I'm going to take advantage of the Bookish Meme was posted on softdrinks wonderful blog. It is perfect for a busy weekday.

I see that Anne and Girasoli have also posted on the meme. I'm not going to tag anyone.

Okay... Here are the rules for the Page 123 meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

I'm going to use the current book that I am reading; The View From Castle Rock by Alice Munro.

Susan had decreed, when they all lived together, that Maggie should take care of Sandy's clothing, Lizzie of Forrest's, Annie of Simon's, she herself of John's. This meant ironing and mending and darning socks, and knitting scarves and vests and making new shirts as might be needed. Lissie was not supposed to continue looking after Forrest --- or to have anything at all to do with him -- after he moved out.

Alas, it is a rather uninsightful quote. I'm not yet to page 123. I like to read her stories slowly and savor each word.

Alice Munro is mainly a short story writer but lately the collections have been linked together. This book is a fictionalized collection of stories about her family. It reads partly as a memoir and partly as a novel. I highly recommend all her collections. Here are a couple of other ones:

Love of a Good Woman
The Progress of Love

February 12, 2008

Moody gray

Grey February Seattle Day

View from my office - Gray February Seattle Day

I think I have S.A.D this year. You would think after 30 plus years in Seattle that I would have adjusted to the gray. But noooo! I've been very moody and emotional this week. Everything is annoying me at work and I'm so exhausted. Classic symptoms. Last week was great but I must have been on a sunshine high from Paso Robles.

Today it is dark, drizzly and gray. I'm sitting here watching the clouds roll by my office window and they feel low and oppressive. Sun - come back soon!

February Sunshine on Seattle Skyline

February Sunshine on Seattle Skyline

February 14, 2008

Happy St Valentine's Day


Here are some roses for my Slow Travel Friends.

G and I do not celebrate St. Valentine's Day. He feels it is a 'Hallmark' holiday. I do agree it has become so commercial. But I do like to take a day to celebrate love. Did you know that there is a Kissing Festival in France? La Fête du Baiser is held this coming Saturday in the French town of Roquemaure. Here is a great article on the festival and the history of St Valentine's Day from a 2005 Sydney Morning Herald.

The France website also has a nice page on St Valentine if you read French. And here is a bit about the history of the holiday. The roots of the celebration are from the Roman holiday, Lupercalia.

February 20, 2008

Full Moon Eclipse

Tonight was a total eclipse of the moon. This is the last one for my area until 2010. I wrote it off because it is February and I really didn't expect it to be clear. The forecast was for cloudy skies.

After work, I headed for the grocery store to pick up some items for tonight's dinner. Paella - I had to start using the 3 pounds of Italian rice that I bought at Costco. As I rolled my shopping cart back to the car, I looked up and realized that the skies had cleared. "I will be able to see the eclipse", I thought.

When I got home I checked on the web for the times. For the Pacific coast, the eclipse would start around 5:30. The full eclipse the moon would happen at 7:01 and last for 55 minutes. I got the paella going, grabbed the tripod and set up the camera.

The clouds were lying low along the horizon and foothills to the east. I could see nothing at 6:15pm other than a faint aura of moonlight due east. Would it clear the clouds in time. 6:25... nothing... 6:30... nothing.

Whoa! there it was. The lower half was starting to darken. I stood shivering in the cold while snapping pictures. It was so real and mesmerizing.

At 7:01 the last sliver of disappeared and the moon turned into a glassy globe radiating red. After dinner, I sneaked out and slowly a sliver reappeared. It is now a glassy white globe shinning silverly light on the neighborhood.

Ah the wonder of nature.





Full Moon Eclipse 1

Full Moon Eclipse 2



And for everyone who can not say "Total Eclipse...." without thinking about Bonnie Tyler, here is "Total Eclipse of the Heart"

February 21, 2008

Guilty Pleasures - Movies

We all have them - movies that you always watch but don't want to admit. They could be a movie so bad it is good or a movie that plays on a Saturday morning and you stop everything to watch. And you do it again next time it is on.

One of my guilty pleasure movies is on tonight - Muriel's Wedding. I love this movie for so many reasons - the story, the location and most of all the music. Yes, Abba!

Another one is The Wedding Singer. I normally hate Adam Sandler but I love this movie. I seen it several times. I love the scene in the plane with Billy Idol.

And a really really bad movie that I love - Conan the Barbarian. So bad it is good and I love the Italian scenery.

On that note, I'll leave you with a scene from Muriel's Wedding.

February 22, 2008

UC Berkeley Octet

February 26, 2008

There will be blood

San ardo oil fields
San Ardo Oil Fields near King City, California

I was glad that Daniel Day Lewis won for best actor. His portrait of oilman Daniel Plainview was stunning. He was so charismatic and yet such a villain. I was also surprised that it was about the oil fields of California. I had assumed it was Texas until I heard them refer to Point Hueneme half way through the movie.

I remember the oil derricks in the southern part of central valley of California. We would travel to visit my aunt who lived in Pasadena and pass them along the highway before we headed up over the Grapevine. Their movement facinated me as a child from the window of our car.

Oil did shape a lot of Southern California and even had repercussions into the 1960's when there were efforts to stop drilling off the coast. I passed the San Ardo oil field along Highway 101 on my way to Paso Robles in February just after seeing the movie.

The railroad also had a big impact on the area. Not only for transporting oil but also transporting crops. One of my favorite books in high school was "The Octopus" by Frank Norris. I should go back and read this novel and "Oil!" by Sinclair Lewis which was the inspiration for the movie.

February 28, 2008


For a long time my dreams were of places I would travel.Through the years I've checked places off and added new places. South Africa - check. Australia - check, study French in Villefranche - check. New places have been added such as India, Malaysia, the Amazon.

Only recently have I realized that I have another dream - an early retirement. Well, maybe not exactly retirement but taking a step out of the corporate world. I think it started a while back when I read a book whose basically said it was your life or your job. At the time, I was very content in my job but the seed was planted.

More and more friends and neighbors have made changed their jobs and moved towards retirement. I'm currently reading Work Less, Live More and it sounding better and better. Someday, maybe this dream will come true also.

February 29, 2008

Leap Day

Leap Year Day

1908 Postcard from Wikipedia

Well it is finally here - leap day. Not only is this an extra day but it is the end of the Slow Travel Blog for a Month. This has been a lot of fun. I've enjoyed reading posts by my fellow bloggers. I am going to continue updating my blog but just not daily.

Leap Day has always been fun. I remember Sadie Hawkins Day when I was growing up. In high school, girls could ask the boys out to the Sadie Hawkins Dance. I wonder if there are any Sadie Hawkins Dances tonight?

March 1, 2008

Girl Scout Cookies

We got our order this week. Chocolate mint of course.

March 7, 2008

In My Life

I grew up in the age of 45 inch records. The first record I bought was a 45 of "I want to hold you hand" by The Beatles. I was caught up in the mania in 1963. I think Ringo was my favorite at the time although Paul was so cute. Now after all these years, I've come to like John. I've been listening to several of his solo songs now that they are available on I-Tunes such as "(Just Like) Starting Over" and "#9 Dream".

One of the Beatles songs that I really like is "In My Life". I was watching YouTube videos today and came across this montage of old video clips to the song. It brought back some good memories of a time gone by.

March 14, 2008

Pi Day


That magical mathematical number representing the relationship between a circle’s diameter (its width) and its circumference (the distance around the circle). Three fourteen. Today is the day to celebrate this mathematical relationship.

I didn't know it was Pi day until I read this post on Serious Eats. It would have been the perfect day to make a pie but I didn't

So if you are interested in knowing more about this holiday check out: Pi day

I will leave you with this:

March 18, 2008

Kitty nose

Kitty nose

March 23, 2008

Water and the West

Mt Whitney from Alabama Hills
Mt Whitney from Alabama Hills near Lone Pine - Eastern California

We do not celebrate the Spring holidays. I do look forward to the seasonal rebirth during spring. But without family near by, it is another holiday that goes by the wayside for us.

I did succumb the influence of food advertising for Easter and made a lamb roast on Wednesday. It was so good. I also made a potato gratin and steamed fresh green beans. G does not eat lamb so I bought a nice piece of fresh Alaska Halibut for him.

Saturday was nice. The sun was shining and the temperatures warmed up. It almost got to 60 degrees. We got out into the garden and did some weeding and mulching. But unpredictable Seattle weather took revenge on us and this morning was dark and rainy. Not a typical drizzle but rain. Sunrise services and easter egg hunts planned for Sunday were rained out.

We drove down in the miserable rain to the Seattle Center to see a very good IMAX film - Grand Canyon Adventure. It was lovely to escape to the desert for a half hour. I've been fascinated by the politic of water here in the west. My parents lived and worked in Eastern California before they married. They remembered the old timers telling tales of the lushness of Owens Valley before Los Angeles bought up the water rights and turned the valley into a desert.

The book "Cadillac Desert" written in 1986 is one of my favorite non-fiction books. He detailed the battles and challenges for the Colorado River over 20 years ago before global warming. So much that he wrote about is coming true today.

But the river is powerful and the results of years are beautiful. I've visited the canyon twice and I still want to go back. One day we hope to either hike or raft the canyon.

March 28, 2008

Snowy Spring Day

Cat Conteplation

A week or so ago, G said he thought we were past the last frost. I was not as certain. I've remembered several years where there was a cold snap late in March. Officially, the last frost is not until mid April. But this is the first year that I've remembered snow this late in March. I don't think it got above 37 degrees today.

I finished the taxes and then ran some errands. At the store I overheard a woman say "Was it Easter we just celebrated or was it Christmas?". Out in the garden department, women were standing in the snow buying geraniums.

It was slushy and wet but the traffic was snarled already by 2pm. Fortunately I made it home before it got really bad. I opened a bottle of wine and relaxed. Kitty was intrigued by the snow and spent some time in contemplation observing the flakes.

March 29, 2008

First lines of novels

G strained his back at work last week. Yesterday it snowed. So much for the plans to go and view the bulb fields in the Skagit Valley.

It did give me time to catch up on reading my favorite blogs. It started with Sandra blogging "It was the day my grandmother exploded" . What a great opening line. She was looking for the opening line of Pride and Prejudice - "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." This single line says so much. She went on to blog about several of her favorite opening lines.

Next to get caught in the web of opening lines was Andasamo. She brought in more great lines such as excellent opening lines from Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And also some killer pictures of bookcases. My bookcases are boring. One is fulled of travel books and the other is filled with plant books. Novels get put away in boxes.

Annie continue the meme and gave us more great opening lines. She has included several of my favorite authors such as Tom Robbins and Jim Harrison.

I was intrigued and googled some of my favorite books. Here are a the first lines of few of my favorite books.

"Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress."
George Eliot

"My father's family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip."
Charles Dickens
Great Expectations

"She stands up in the garden where she has been working and looks into the distance."
Michael Ondaatje
The English Patient

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."
Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar

"Dr. Iannis had enjoyed a satisfactory day in which none of his patients had died or got any worse."
Louis de Bernières
Captain Corelli's Mandolin

"I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills."
Isak Dinesen
Out of Africa

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
George Orwell

A squat grey building of only thirty-four storeys. Over the main entrance the words “Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre” and, in a shield, the World State's Motto: “Community, Identity, Stability”.
Aldous Huxley
Brave New World

"In the last quarter of the twentieth century, at a time when Western civilization was declining too rapidly for comfort and yet too slowly to be very exciting, much of the world sat on the edge of an increasingly expensive theater seat, waiting - with various combinations of dread, hope, and ennui - for something momentous to occur."
Tom Robbins
Still Life with Woodpecker

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974."
Jeffrey Eugenides

It was very interesting to see an in depth discussion of the opening line of "The Stranger" by Albert Camus. I loved this book when I was in college. In French the opening line is:

"Aujourd'hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas."

It seems so simple but the translation varies - "Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know." or "My mother died today, or perhaps it was yesterday." It is discussed on Wikipedia - I'm going to put this on my list of novels to re-read.

So what are the opening lines of your favorite novels?

Earth Hour

Earth Hour
Sydney darkening for Earth Hour.

Tonight is Earth Hour. I've known about it for a while but I wasn't certain if we would participate. This is the second year that World Wildlife Foundation has sponsored the global event to bring awareness to global warming. I read about it first on NW Hikers. Several Slow Travelers living in cities which are participating mentioned it on the board.

We decided to participate. We've pulled out the cards, the candles and we are getting ready to turn off the TV and lights. I'm looking out the windows and it has started snowing again. I just heard that the Seattle Space Needle will go dark.

I'll report back in an hour.

Earth Hour Redux

Spending Earth Hour playing cards

Lights out, Candles lit, I-pod on batteries, Sequence for entertainment - Earth Hour 2008.

March 30, 2008

Edmonds Beach Photo Walk

And it's simply irrational weather
Can't even hear myself think
Constantly bailing out water
But still feel like I'm gonna sink

Under the Weather - KT Tunstall

It had definitely been irrational weather. It is almost April and it has snowed on and off this weekend. But in between the storms, there has been patches of sun and crisp temperatures. I took a moment during one of the breaks to go for a walk down at the ferry dock. The tide was out and I headed north along the beach at Bracketts Landing. It was just what I needed. There was a large flock of black brant geese. They were feasting on the eel grass. I think they winter over here and will soon be heading for Alaska to breed.

Come along with me on my walk.

Edmonds Beach
Interesting log

Edmonds Beach
Fishing net float - Look at those clouds on the horizon!

Edmonds Beach
Waves lapping

Edmonds Beach
Nothing interesting in this tidal area other than barnacles

Edmonds Beach
Flock of Black Brant Geese

Edmonds Beach
Weathered Shell

Edmonds Beach
Crab shells

Edmonds Beach
It was not too cold for this man - he waded out in shorts and barefeet

April 1, 2008


Mom in her 20's

It has been seven years since my mother died. April 2001. It seems like yesterday but also seems like forever. She was born at home before WWI in Northern California and lived into her 80's. I never knew her as a young woman. She divorced her first husband after my half sisters and brothers were teenagers. Shortly after, she married my dad. I was born a couple of years later when she was nearing 40. (Thanks girasoli for the idea)

Mom - I miss you.

Mom - Wedding
Just married - She smoked until into her 70's

Mom 1960
Family picture from 1960 - I loved the rickrack she sewed on my dress.

Mom 1963
Family picture from 1963 - She lived in this house until her death

April 3, 2008


Today I was laid off. And it is a good thing. I have been unhappy at work and I had an opportunity to get a package. I took it!

I am now in transition and my last day will be in May. I really don't have any definite plans other than to enjoy the summer. Come fall, I'll look at school or potentially part time work.


April 6, 2008

Computer ailment

I bought a new Dell in December. It was fine for about 3 weeks and then it blue screened and crashed. When I tried rebooting, it would hang and never get to a log in screen. I called Dell and we walked through some disk diagnostics for about 2 hours. Suddenly, it started working.

Well, it did it again on Wednesday. I spent most of Wednesday night on the phone with Dell. We had to restore my system which took forever. The agent on the phone thought it was still okay. It did finally come back and I'm working but I lost everything on my hard drive. It wasn't much since most of my main data is on my external drive (photo and music). But it has been a pain to restore all my programs.

And I don't think that was the problem. I've had problems when I reboot. It doesn't detect my keyboard (USB) and I have to boot again. I tell you - it is possessed and something is wrong with it.

April 7, 2008

Recovering iPod playlists

I have all my music stored on my external drive so I didn't lose any of my music when my hard drive crashed. I didn't realize the iTunes library which stored data such as playlist was lost. Even if you configure iTunes to use an external folder for the music, the library will be kept in your user folder (My Documents) under ITunes.

I was able to rebuild the library so that all my music showed up in iTunes. But I had several new playlists that were now only on my iPod. I really wanted those back in iTunes so I could tweak them. It took a little surfing to figure out how to copy playlists from iPod to iTunes.

I found two great utilities to help you restore information from you IPod back to ITunes. The ultimate utility is iPodRip. If you have lost your music, this seems to be the way to go.

I only needed my playlists so I found another great utility that can copy both music and playlists - Yamipod - Yet Another iPod Manager. It took me a little bit to figure out exactly how to copy the playlist using Yamipod. You can export the playlists to either PLS format or M3U format. I tried PLS first and it didn't seem to work when I opened the playlist in iTunes. But exporting to the M3U format worked great. Export it as M3U and then go to iTunes and select Import and open the M3U file containing the exported playlist. I think you can also drag and drop the playlist into iTunes.

Yamipod also looks to be a great alternative to manage your music.

May 3, 2008

PhotoHunt: Time


Sundial in Gourdon France

Sundials are ancient timepieces used before mechanical clocks. They marks time by the position of the sun.This lovely sundial is from the side of a church in Gourdon France. Sundials are popular in Provence. I saw them in many villages.

If you look closely at this sundial, you'll noticed something strange. The roman numerials do not go back to 1 after 12. Have they redone this sundial for European time? XIII, XIV, XV?

This is my first week playing . I first saw it over on Leslie's Kaleidoscope blog. I've also seen Girasoli and Maria playing along. It looks like a lot of fun. If you are interested, just click on the PhotoHunt link and hunt along with us.

May 10, 2008

Photohunt: Share any photo


Africa Dreaming - Etosha

Elephant at  Kalkheuwel waterhole in Etosha

We could feel a light coat of dust settle on our skin. A slight bead of sweat tickled down the side of my face while I tried to focus my camera lens on the eye of an elephant. The parking area was empty and it was totally quiet but for the snorting, clomping of hooves and occasional splash. It was high noon at the Kalkheuwel waterhole in Etosha National Park in Namibia.

We had been searching all morning for elephants. Driving from waterhole to waterhole, we only saw the occasional springbok or zebra. Our excitement grew as our trusty Toyota Corolla drove up the white dirt road to the waterhole and we saw the large grey elephant bathing at the waterhole.

The Etosha pan is a large dry lakebed which makes up part of Etosha National Park in Namibia. The rains temporarily fill natural water holes and attract thousands of animals. Man made waterholes supplement the natural waterholes providing viewing spots throughout the year. We spent three days in September 2005 driving the white roads and I dream of returning some day.

I would like to share this photo with the members of Photohunt - Enjoy and live your dreams!

May 17, 2008

Photohunt: Candy


Candy bars

The weather has been gorgeous this weekend. The sun has finally appeared and the temperatures are up above 60. It was time for a trip to Lakewold Gardens again. The Rhododendrons were in bloom and the whole garden was a riot of color.

They have the most interesting garden/gift store. Many tempting plants and garden tools. They also have a fine selection of international candy bars. I snapped a shot for this week's Photohunt hosted by tnchick.

Starting on the left, we have the Yorkie - popular in the UK and made by Nestle. It has the most unusual tag line for a chocolate bar - "It's not for Girls". It is based on the fact that it is big and chunky.

Next is Flake - available in UK, Australia and South Africa. A flaky round bar of chocolate with an unusual history. The label is also in Arabic.

The third bar is Violet Crumble. I just love the name. The bar is popular in Australia.

May 24, 2008

Photohunt: Shoes


View from Beezley Hills

My goodness - I almost forgot it was Saturday. So much is going on right now. Anyway... here is my photo for this week's hunt for Shoes hosted by tnchick.

This was taken on Beezley Hill. This is a Nature Conservacy reserve in Eastern Washington near Quincy. It is a great place to look for wildflowers. You can find out more from this previous blog or from these photos tagged at Flickr.

May 30, 2008

Last day at work

Today was my official last day at work. I am starting into semi-retirement. Plans are to take the summer off. Time to play and have fun. I've been working non-stop since 1980. I have a little help since officially I have been laid off. :) Severance is helping me to turn summer into a sabbatical. It will take a couple of days - hell a couple of weeks for me to lose the passion for my work and not think about helping people or customers. For a while that is.

20 years! My goodness where did it go. It seems just like yesterday that I was interviewing with the owners. Yesterday, it was a handshake and thanks for a job well done. Tears were spent tonight and lots of wine. But it is time to move on.

June 2, 2008

No Knead Bread

Today was the first day of my 'new life'. I need to get into a routine otherwise time will slip through my fingers. The mornings will be interesting. I realized last week when G told me how me what he typically did every morning before he goes to work. He doesn't leave for work until after 10am. He has had a routine and now I will interrupt it. It was his time to use the computer. Of course, I want to get on the computer to check out what has happened overnight on Slow Travel. We will work it out.

One goal is to get into an exercise routine. I need to work on my core strength. Long long ago, I did Jazzercise. I love the dance routines and the music. So I looked up the local classes and went to my first session today. It was great but hard. I am so out of shape. This will be good for me. G suggested that I go for a walk/run in the morning. I will do that tomorrow morning. I'm also thinking about doing a swim when it gets warmer.

I also made the No Knead Bread developed by Zoë François from the book “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”. They had been raving about it on Slow Travel. I thought this would be perfect to do while I had time. It is so easy and so good. I highly recommend viewing this video on making the bread. I only made one loaf so there are at least 3 more to make from the one batch. The crust is amazing. The flavor isn't a good as local artisan breads but it is still good. I'm looking forward to the next loaf. It should be a bit less yeasty which will be good. I hope to have pictures next time.

June 4, 2008

Rainy June

I looked out the window this morning to see an endless sky of gray. Torrents of rain came down yesterday. Will it be the same today?

I walked out for the newspaper and the day reminded me of a tropical mountain morning. The blooming plants were still weighted down with their wet flowers filled with rain. A few more moments in bed with a hot cup of coffee and newspaper before I roll out. First stop, the kitchen to load up the dishwasher and clean up after dinner.

I pull on my running tights and a light poly-pro top. I grab the ipod and head out the door. Damn. It was misty. I put on my rain jacket and start out dodging a couple of slugs slithering across the sidewalk. I can feel my hair frizzing and increasing in size. I must look like a old crone with my hair standing straight out.

People are rushing to and fro. Off to work or to school. I start to jog. Man, an I sore. The gravel crunch under my heels. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. Downhill, that is good. The yards are a riot of color. Spring has been late so the lilacs are still in bloom. I turn the corner. The misty rain hits my face. I feel like I am running next to a waterfall. Tires crash on the asphalt instead of water. I turn off onto a side street. Peace. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. It is so hard starting an exercise routine. Rotten weather doesn't help.

When will summer come?

June 5, 2008

Memories of Bobby

I had the greatest teacher for social studies in junior high school. Funny, I can't remember his name but he made a big impression on me. We studied current events and what a time to study them. The years were 1967 and 1968. Each student had a subscription to Newsweek and we would study history as it was being made. We ended the school year in June 1967 studying the 6 Day War and went off into the Summer of Love. My mother would drive us over to San Francisco to see the hippies along Haight Asbury. We were too young and innocent to join in and could only watch out the back seat window as we drove by.

School year started again in September and I had the same teacher for history/current events. We would tease him because he was bald. I remember buying a comb, taking all the teeth out and giving it to him as a present to comb his bald head. We were ruthless. We were innocent.

We started studying the 1968 presidential campaign early in the year. Fighting continued to be waged in Vietnam. Each night we would see black and white images of the troops fighting in the jungle and the daily death tolls. Protesting continued across the campuses including our local University.

Early in January 1968, we broke up into teams to campaign for the different candidates and hold a mock election at the end of school year. I remember Johnson, McCarthy, Nixon and Wallace were the main candidates to start. But we also had a group campaigning for Bobby Kennedy even though he had not announced that he was running. My school was mostly minority and everyone wanted to campaign for either Kennedy or McCarthy. It was common to see pictures of JFK in homes. No one wanted to represent Wallace.

In March, Kennedy announced his candidacy and later Johnson left the campaign. Johnson supporters drafted Humphrey to enter the race and replaced Johnson as the leading candidate.

April saw the death of Martin Luther King. It was tense in my neighborhood during this time. Rioting was taking place and you never knew where violence would break out next.

Campaigning headed up in California. The big California primary would take place on June 5th and would be instrumental in the election. The candidates made numerous local appearances. Cesar Chavez aligned with Kennedy. We continued our campaigning for our mock election in class. We would vote at the end of the school year after the primary.

On Tuesday June 5th, Bobby Kennedy won the primary. The unthinkable took place after his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in LA. He was assassinated.

On Wednesday, we sat in class, stunned. We were so involved the campaign and we wanted Kennedy for President regardless of who we were assigned to campaign for. My teacher wisely decided to go on with the mock election. It was a landslide for Kennedy.

Today is the 40th Anniversary of his assassination. Who knows what would have happened if he lived. Would he have won the nomination? Could he have won the election? What would the nation be today?

The LA Times had a great section on Bobby.
Video - 40 years later: Assassination of RFK

For more see the LA Times sections on the anniversary.

Continue reading "Memories of Bobby" »

June 21, 2008

Photohunt: Water


Lake Union and Seattle Skyline
Lake Union and Seattle skyline from the cockpit of a seaplane about to land on the lake

I missed the last couple of Photohunt. But I couldn't miss this week's hunt - Water. Living in the Seattle area, water is all around. To the west is Puget Sound, a large inland body of water. To the east is Lake Washington and right downtown is Lake Union.

Lake Union is very interesting. It is connected to the Sound by a series of locks and a cut of channel connects it to Lake Washington. It is a working lake with several large dry docks. And it is also home to many houseboats. It is also the landing strip for seaplanes between Seattle, San Juan Islands and Canada. For years, I would watch the planes take off from my office and dream of taking one to Victoria. I finally did get a chance. I loved it! We arranged the flight to return at sunset on a sunny summer day. The view from the cockpit was spectacular.

Here is another view from Gas Works Park on the north shore of Lake Union.

Lake Union and Seattle Skyline

August 16, 2008

Photohunt: Colorful


Chihuly at DeYoung
Dale Chihuly - Seaform and Persians glass ceiling

This week's Photohunt theme is colorful. Nothing screams colorful to me than a local Pacific Northwest artist - Dale Chihuly. His work in glass is always a riot of color. The De Young Museum in San Francisco's current exhibit is a collection showing his different styles ranging from glass baskets to large chandeliers. The rooms are dark with excellent lighting to highlight the brilliant colors. The photo above is a ceiling display of his seaform and persian glass. You feel like you are in an underwater sea garden when you enter the room.

Another great place to see his work is outside the Tacoma Glass Museum at the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. The pedestrian bridge over the freeway has a wall of his venetian glass, the icy blue crystal towers and a seaform pavilion similar to the display above.

Also check out the colorful Photohunt posts by other Slow Travel bloggers:

Below are two other shots from the Chihuly exhibit which runs until September 28, 2008. Enjoy the colors.

Chihuly at DeYoung

Mille Fiori garden of glass

Chihuly at DeYoung


August 22, 2008

Computer crash again

It happened again for the third time. I bought this Dell Inspiron 530 at the end of November and it crashed two weeks after I got it. I try to boot the machine and it says "Loading PBR for descriptor 2". Every time I've spent 2-3 hours on the phone with Dell. The first time, the tech was cool enough to help me try to save my data. We did disk diagnostics that ran so slow. It took over an hour to get 60% through the disk, then suddenly it started going fast and it booted. The second time was 3 months later, I wasn't so lucky and we ended up reinstalling XP. And here it is another 3 months later and it happened again. The tech wanted me to reinstall XP right from the start. He wouldn't even try any other option. He also wouldn't think it was hardware. We started reinstalling XP and it was super slow. It took over 15 minutes to try to find a previous version. I bitched at him and he said if I wanted something faster - I needed a more powerful machine. Give me a break. Then we deleted all the partitions including the small little boot partition and started formating the hard drive. It was so slow. It would take almost 10 minutes to do 1% of the hard drive. Sure I have a large hard drive (320 gig) but it shouldn't be that slow. After 1 1/2 hours, it was only 80% done. He finally agreed to send me a new hard drive. I'm not certain if that is the problem but after corrupting the primary boot record for the third time - I'd like to try it.

I got the new hard drive the next day. And it only took seconds to do a fast format and XP was reinstalled in probably 30 minutes. I'm starting from scratch again. Fortunately, I have a great spreadsheet that has all my software keys and information on what I have installed. I'm going to have to rebuild my Ipod library again. And yes, I did lose some personal data. The fortunate thing is I keep all my email and bookmarks on the web. My photo library and music library are on an external.

What is weird is my previous dell didn't have any problems and I had it for 6 years. I never had any problem with the machines at work. I'm seriously considering HP and MAC next time.

August 23, 2008

PhotoHunt: Wrinkled


swiss chard
Wrinkly Swiss Chard

This week's PhotoHunt theme is wrinkled. I only have to go as far as my back yard to find a wide variety of examples of wrinkled. Leaves come in a variety of wrinkled textures. The best one right now is the Swiss chard growing in my vegetable garden.

Another great example are the variety of hosta leaves. Here is a sample from the Hosta "Patriot".


August 30, 2008

PhotoHunt: Beautiful


Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier

I really struggled with this week's theme. I finally decided to select a photo of Mt. Rainier. It is our favorite place to hike. I love the high alpine area along the slopes. It sets my soul free. Enjoy!

September 4, 2008

The Forty Three Meme

Deborah at Old Shoes -New Trip tagged the other Slow Travel bloggers with a list of 43 interesting city squares, plazas and piazzas from around the world. She challenges us to find out how many of these squares we have visited.

I went through the list and only came up with 13 squares. I definitely have my work cut out to make a dent on the other 30.

The Forty-Three MEME from Old Shoes, New Trip

Copy this list into your own blog and put an asterisk after each city square you've actually spent time in. (Riding past in a taxi or bus doesn't count.) Please include the link back to Old Shoes - New Trip in you own entry and don't forget to come back to and leave comment on Deborah's post.

1- Piazza Del Campo, Siena, Italy *
2- Piazza Della Signoria, Florence, Italy *
3- Staromestske Namesti, Prague, Czech Republic
4- Markt, Bremen, Germany
5- Grote Markt, Brussels, Belgium *
6- Piazza and Piazzetta San Marco, Venice, Italy *
7- Piazza Del Campidoglio, Rome, Italy *
8- Krasnaja Polscad, Moscow, Russia
9- Sultanahmet Meidani, Istanbul, Turkey
10- Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy *
11- St. Peter's Square, The Vatican *
12- Place Des Vosges, Paris, France *
13- Place Vendome, Paris, France
14- Place Des Terreaux, Lyon, France
15- Place Stanislas, Nancy, France
16- Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain *
17- Schlossplatz, Stuttgart, Germany
18- Plaza De La Constitucion, Mexico City, Mexico
19- Praca do Comercio, Lisbon, Portugal
20- Trafalgar Square, London, UK *
21- Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin, Germany
22- Konigsplatz, Munich, Germany
23- Winter Palace Square, St. Petersburg, Russia
24- Piccadilly Circus, London, UK *
25- Piazza Duomo, Milan, Italy *
26- Piazza Dell'Unita D'Italia, Trieste, Italy
27- Theaterplatz, Dresden, Germany
28- Maria Theresien Platz, Vienna, Austria
29- Hosok Tere, Budapest, Hungary
30- Plaza De Mayo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
31- Times Square, New York City, USA *
32- Tian'anmen Square, Beijing, China
33- Praca Dos Tres Poderes, Brasilia, Brazil
34- Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, Canada
35- City Hall Plaza, Boston, USA
36- Plateau Beaubourg, Paris, France
37- Tsukuba Center Square, Tsukuba, Japan
38- Place Du Nobre D'Or, Montpellier, France
39- Placa Dels Paisos Catalans, Barcelona, Spain
40- Parliament Square, Canberra, Australia
41- California Plaza, Los Angeles, USA
42- Schouwburgplein, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
43- Potsbamer Platz, Berlin, Germany

September 6, 2008

PhotoHunt: Strings



This week's PhotoHunt theme is string. I liked this theme. I found it had a lot more options to show different types of strings. The idea of guitar strings actually came from my husband. This is a picture of his Fender Stratocaster guitar. It was the first thing that came to his mind when I asked him what he thinks of when I say "Strings"?

Do check out a few of the other members of Slow Travel that participate. You can find them in my right navigation bar with the little camera next to their blog title.

Happy hunting

September 12, 2008

Happy 5th Blogiversary!!


I've been making a few changes to my blog. I added my picture, bio and spiff up my sidebar. I was cleaning the dust bunnies out of the corners of the old posts when I noticed that I made my first blog post on September 12, 2003!

It is my 5th blogiversary! I've been blogging for five years! Did you know there is a word for blog anniversary - blogiversary. Hmmm... or is it blogoversary? I'm going with blogiversary.

I started this blog back in 2003 as a journal of our travel plans and trip to Chile. Over the following years, I blogged off and on about travel, food, hiking and wildflowers. The other bloggers at Slow Travel have been a great help this year - blogging for a month, Slow Bakers, sharing memes and Photohunt.

I want to thank everyone for dropping by. I really appreciate your comments and I love your feedback on my photos.

I thought I would highlight a few posts from the past years.

Again - thanks for stopping by and reading.

September 13, 2008

PhotoHunt: Wild


Zebra on the road to Okondeka waterhole

Zebra on the road to Okondeka waterhole - Etosha Namibia

This week's Photohunt is wild. To me, wild is Africa. We visited Etosha National Park in Namibia in September 2005. This is a place where the humans are locked in at night to protect them from the wild beasts. It is an amazing place.

Do check out a few of the other members of Slow Travel that participate. You can find them in my right navigation bar with the little camera next to their blog title.

Happy hunting

September 16, 2008

La Fin de L'Été


There is a chill in the mornings. A mist coats the windows. The shadows are long and the rays are golden. The days continue to be warm and sunny lulling me into thinking summer will not end but I know the end is coming.

To take advantage of these last days of summer, we have been going down to our local beach to watch the sun set. You can tell that a change is coming. Last week the blue would linger in the sky tinted with golden. But tonight there were a few clouds and everything turned golden and pink. We took dinner tonight. I made a salade niçoise using green beans and tomatoes from our garden. The beach was surprising busy. A lot of families were out along with groups of friends and couple who had similar idea of having dinner at the beach.

After dinner, we sat along the waves and watched the sun slip behind the Olympics . I'm not ready for the rain.

We are leaving to California for a couple of days. My beau-père is having a milestone birthday and we're going down to help celebrate. There will be mariachi and lots of family.

Here are some more sunset shots. These were taken from Marine Park in Edmonds.

Salade Nicoise







September 20, 2008

PhotoHunt: Road


Nambia Namib Drive

Road through Namib Desert in Namibia

It never fails. Everytime we go on a trip, we end up on some type of dirt road. White roads of Italy, Forest roads of Washington state, gravel roads through the bush of Australia, single roads in the backroads of New Zealand.

Namibia had the largest percentage of dirt or gravel roads. Only 10% of the roads are paved. Traveling between the major sites, no problem but if you want to go to the dunes or around Etosha, you will need to be able to drive on gravel. They are in excellent condition. I normally drive around 20-30 miles an hour here in the state but once you get used to the driving in Namibia and you have a long open stretch like above - 50 miles hour is nothing.

The longest drive we had was across the Namib Naukluft Park between Swakopmund and Sersriem. Of course we had to stop along the way to check out one of the strangest plants in the world - the Welwitschia.

Here are some other photos of our drive through the Namib desert.

Nambia Namib Drive

Our trusty Toyota Corolla

Nambia Namib Drive
Which way to the Welwitschia?

Nambia Namib Drive
Welwitschia Plains

Nambia Namib Drive
Yes, they are that ugly.

Nambia Namib Drive
Crossing the Tropic of Capricorn on the way from Swakopmund to Sersriem.

October 2, 2008

Back from Kauai


I can still hear the soft hush of the waves and the rustling of the palm leaves. A soft breeze blows across my shoulders and I can smell the sweet scent of plumeria. I've just returned from 5 short days in Kauai.

I'm still in contact with several friends from high school. This period of my life was tough. So much was new and different. You are torn by changes in your body and changes in your emotions when you are a teenager. There are so many challenges. Through this time, I made several lifetime bonds with 4 girl friends.

We got together in 1997 for a 'Fem-Fest' and again after our 30th high school reunion. Two of my friends stayed in the central Valley of California. My friend R and I have moved farther away - me to the Pacific Northwest and she to Virginia.

I first met her when we were 13. We were in junior high school and we shared several classes. I remember going to her father's grocery store to see her after she returned from the Philippines. She was so sweet and brought me a lovely handkerchief that was locally embroidered. We partied together through high school and piled into her father's station wagon to go to the drive-in. We spent the first year of college together at the local junior college. She married and moved away. Her husband and G were best friends in high school. They actually got G and I together by asking us to 'double-date' with them a couple of times. Yes, our first dates were double dates with R and her husband. G was the best man at their wedding and I was a bride's maid. Later, she finished her college at my alma mater - UC Berkeley and even lived on the same street I did while I was in college.

Over the years R and I have communicated through letters and email. Sometimes we went for long periods between touching bases. It was always amazing to reconnect and just pick up.

She phoned me for my birthday in July and I told her I wasn't working. We talked about what was happening in each others lives and she mentioned she was going to Kauai for work at the end of September and was going to stay on for a few days. Her husband and sister couldn't join her, was not working - would I be interested in joining her? For sure.

I arrived last Friday night and joined her at the hotel. We spent the next 5 days exploring, shopping and reminiscing. Our common background and bond provided the security to relax. We explored Koloa and then returned to Lihue to attend a local hula contest - Mokihana Festival. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Sunday we drove north and caught a slack key guitar concert in Hanalei and a good dinner at the Dolphin Cafe at Hanelai. Of course we got in some good shopping at Ola's Gallery.

Monday, we headed to Waimea Canyon. We thought we might go hiking but the sign for Hanapepe - the "Biggest small town in Kauai" seduced us. We turned off and spent an enjoyable morning exploring the art galleries and shops. We lunched at the Hanapepe Cafe before finally heading to the canyon. The canyon was as lovely as I remembered. But the clouds had thickened and by time we made it to Koke'e, the rain was falling. We stopped and checked out the small museum and enjoyed seeing the chicken families before heading back.

Tuesday was the big adventure day. We had reservations for a 7:00 zip-line adventure at Princeville Ranch Adventures. We got our helmets and harnesses. I was nervous. I've been afraid of heights at times but I was pretty certain I was prepared for the heights. I think my biggest fear was landing. My knees are not in the best of shape and I didn't know how difficult (or fast) the landings would be.

We headed out and did our first zip on the 'bunny slope'. What a rush. I was hooked and ready for more. We did 7 more over the creeks and treetops before we hiked down to a swimming hole fed by a bubbling water fall. We jumped in and floated around on inner tubes before eating lunch. We hiked back up and did one more zip before returning. I highly recommend it.

We were done by 11 and headed to Hanalei for shaved ice and more shopping. We returned to the hotel to shower and relax before heading off for some local island dinner - saimin. It is a soup similar to ramin or pho. The best place to have it on Kaua'i is Hamura's Saimin. We took our seats around the counter and ordered. I had the special and R had the traditional. The special had bok choy, sliced pork, hard boiled egg and fish cake. It was so tasty We also had a couple of chicken skewers. For desert, I couldn't resist the Liliko'i chiffon pie. My god was the crust so flaky. It was the best crust I've had in ages. The flavor wasn't really strong but it was tart and sweet. The perfect finish to a salty warm meal.

Wednesday morning, we headed for our massage on the beach and then breakfast. We headed off to explore Poipu and make our final purchases. It was time to pack. I dropped off R and her co-workers at the airport and returned to the hotel for a final swim before heading for my flight. Too short. I want to return - soon.

Here are some pictures.

Beach at the Marriott

Beach at Marriott Kauai

Marriott Kauai
I loved the pool.

Boats on the beach
Boats on the beach at Kalapaki Bay

Beach Shoe Shot
Shoe shot at Kalapaki Bay

More pictures here...

Continue reading "Back from Kauai" »

October 4, 2008

PhotoHunt: Sad


Sheep remains

Sheep carcass in a farmer's field near Nieuwoudtville in South Africa

This week's Photohunt theme is sad. I remember when we came across this carcass. We were in Nieuwoudtville in the Western Cape region of South Africa. We were there for the Spring wildflower bloom. The Bokkeveld Plateau where it is located is rich in bulbs and veld wildflowers.

There was a hot dry desiccating wind blowing. We had finish a wonderful tour given by conservationist and farmer Neil MacGregor. He gave us directions to a farmer's field that was still in bloom.

Our car bumped along the red dry dirt. The field before us was covered in yellow and orange blooms richly contrasting against the red soil. We stopped and started to walk among the flowers. Shortly we came across this carcass of a new born lamb. It was so bittersweet and sad. Here among the beautiful flowering spring flowers was evidence of death and the circle of life. Rebirth and death in the Spring. The lamb was left where it died to give back to the earth.

Some people may find this photo startling but we found it very interesting and life affirming.

Here are two more photos of the field

Field abloom in Nieuwoudtville

Field abloom in Nieuwoudtville

October 11, 2008

PhotoHunt: Lazy

Sunday Morning

Lazy old day rolling away
dreaming the day away
don't want to go
now that I'm in the flow
crazy amazing day

~ Lazy Day by Enya

A lazy Sunday morning in France. I walked up to the local bakery for croissants and a newspaper. I spent the morning enjoying sun on my apartment balcony while reading the London Times and watching the boats on the Villefranche sur Mer harbor.

Look closely at the headline. It was just over a year ago - September, 2007, and a British bank was being bailed out. Who knew what would be happening financially a year later.

October 17, 2008

In memory of Mina


Last year, we had to put down our sweet kitty, Mina, on this day. She came to us serendipitously. Good friends had gone to Oregon to visit friends. Two pregnant cats had been dumped on their farm and they had 17 kitties. We told them to pick out a kitten. We were ready to have a cat again after mourning the loss of our first cat a year earlier.

G got the call. They had found the perfect cat. But she had a little sister that she protected. They were a pair. Would we take two? G said "Yes!"

We went to their house to pick them up. Cassie came out like a bull dog - proud and beautiful. But behind her was a waif. She was half the size with large mouse ears and had a deformed crooked half tail. This was Mina. She was the runt of the litter - pushed aside but now given a chance for a life.

She was so smart. She was the first to learn how to jump up on the window sill. She was constantly catching birds. She didn't bring them - she ate them. A survivor. Scrappy.

Unknown to us - not only did she have a deformed tail but she was probably born with only one kidney. As she grew, the other kidney struggled and eventually gave out. We didn't understand the signs, urinating outside her litter box, drinking water from outside - until too late. She had chronic renal failure but we were able to nurse her back with the help of a wonderful veterinarian assistant. We learned how to give her fluids. But she resisted and struggled. We were able to maintain a good quality of life for another year. But then it was time.

Mina - we miss you.



October 18, 2008

PhotoHunt: Family




We recently had a small family get together and decided to take a family portrait. This was the first time I had tried to take a formal family portrait. It was fun and chaos at the same time.

October 25, 2008

PhotoHunt: Scary


Tarantula - Grammostola actaeon

Spiders are extemely scary to many people. There seems to be an instinctual fear at the sight of one. But not for me.

We have had tarantulas as pets since 1993. It all started as a contest to one-up my boss. He had a large marine salt water fish tank in his office with a couple of Morey eels. My husband bought me a tarantula as a Christmas gift to take into my office. It was the battle of the dangerous pets.

We eventually expanded our collection by purchasing small captive bred spiderling. At one time we had over 2 dozen tarantulas. We keep each spider in small 2 gallon aquarium and feed them live crickets every three weeks or so.

We purchased this spider as a baby in 1995 and we still have her. It is a Grammostola actaeon - Brazilian red rump. Female tarantulas can live over 20 years.

November 1, 2008

PhotoHunt: Blue


Aquarium of Western Australia

Aquarium of Western Australia - Perth

This week's PhotoHunt theme is blue. It was really hard to decide what photo to post. I went hunting through my albums and this one was one of the bluest.

We love visiting aquariums and the blue blue ocean. This shot was taken at the Aquarium of Western Australia outside of Perth. It has the longest underwater viewing tunnel in Australia. They have a great collection of shark and we enjoyed viewing the animals from the safety of this tunnel. I highly recommend the aquarium.

Here are some of our favorite aquariums around the world.

Two Oceans Aquarium  - Cape Town
Kelp Forest exhibit - Two Oceans Aquarium - Cape Town South Africa

Oceanographic Aquarium Monaco
Oceanographic Aquarium - Monaco

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Jelly Fish exhibit - Monterey Bay Aquarium - California

November 8, 2008

PhotoHunt: Together


Together at Two Peoples Bay

Together at Two Peoples Bay near Albany Australia

This week's PhotoHunt theme is Together. This was really tough especially after having family as a theme a couple of weeks ago. I decided to use this one since it was taken at Two Peoples Bay .

November 15, 2008

PhotoHunt: Ruin


Fort Buoux

The ruins of Fort Buoux - Luberon area of France

The ruins of Fort Buoux immediately came to mind when I saw this week's theme - ruin. I decided to not go with the action of ruining something but instead show a photo of ruins.

Fort Buoux is near Apt. It is located on a high rocky outcrop overlooking the valley below which makes it the perfect location for a fort. It had been used since the Roman times and served as a refuge in the Middle Ages. In 1660, Louis XIV ordered it destroyed and it has been abandoned every since. The coolest item was the hidden stairs which provided a secret way to escape if the fort was breached.

Here are some more photos of the ruins.

Fort Buoux

Fort Buoux
Ruins of the watchtower

Fort Buoux
The valley below

Fort Buoux
Secret escape stairs

November 22, 2008

PhotoHunt: Reflection


Menton Reflection

Reflection of Garavan area of Menton

This week's PhotoHunt theme is reflection. I love taking pictures of reflections in mirror. Here is one from a mirror for a blind corner in the Garavan area of Menton France.

November 29, 2008

PhotoHunt: Metal


EMP Museum Seattle

This week's photo hunt is Metal. Here is a shot of two metal Seattle landmarks - the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project (EMP). The EMP is an amazing building. It was designed by Frank Gehry and it is clad in metal.

Here are a couple other shots of the metal exterior.

EMP Museum Seattle
Sky Window where the monorail passes through the building.

EMP Museum Seattle

December 8, 2008

Richmond Beach Bonfire

Bonfire at Richmond Beach

The great thing living here in the Puget Sound area is the tradition of the Christmas Ships. Many of the live aboards will decorate their ships with Christmas lights. Each marina has a special night where the boats will go out along with a large party ship to sing carols to groups gathered on shore.

We've been going for the past 5 years and it is great fun. The boats will gather at the Edmonds Marina and then travel south to Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline where there is a large bonfire. In the past, there have been two large bonfires but this year there was only one. We suspected it was another sign of hard economic times.

And it was crowded this year. Last year, it was freezing cold - 28 degrees. We think that might of kept the crowd down a bit. But this year, it was warmer - 40 degrees. Or maybe families were looking for free entertainment.

Bonfire at Richmond Beach

Bonfire at Richmond Beach
Totem in the moon and firelight - Richmond Beach Park - Shoreline

December 13, 2008

PhotoHunt: Favorite


Oaxacan Carved Cats

Oaxacan wood carved cat figure

This week's photohunt is Favorite. I thought about this for a while. Several items came to mind; hike, garden, flower, food. But I wanted to do something a little bit more personal and I choose to show my favorite souvenir.

I started collecting Oaxacan wood carvings of cats on our first trip to Tuscon. We travel each spring to view the wildflowers and gardens in the Southwest. The gift stores will frequently have a small assortment of Oaxacan wood carvings. These are a traditional art from the area around Oaxaca Mexico. The "figuras" are carved typically in the form of an animal but some are more fantastic and are then called "alebrije". They are painted in bright colors and decorated. Some are rather simple and other very elaborate. Here is more information on the process used to create the figuras.

I've collected several over the years during our travels in the Western States. I always look over the selection of various animals and find a cat. One day I hope to travel to Oaxaca to see the artisans in action and purchase them directly.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Oaxacan Carved Cats

Oaxacan Carved Cats

Oaxacan Carved Cats
The smallest one of the collection

Oaxacan Carved Cats
Doesn't he look old?

Oaxacan Carved Cats
My favorite - I love the flowers and bright red

December 15, 2008

Frozen day in Edmonds

Snowy Day at Edmonds

We are current in a deep freeze. These happen rarely here in the Pacific Northwest but when they do, they are always difficult. The temperatures dropped Saturday night and it started snowing. Sunday was cold and eventually the sun came out. But it never warmed up.

And then the sun went down and the temperatures plunged into the teens. Last night it was a low of around 15 degrees. A few of G's plants got freezer burn even in the greenhouse. Tonight he is running an extra heater to protect them.

I went for a walk down along the shore on Sunset Drive. My god was it cold. The wind was coming strong from the North. The sound was covered by white caps. My cheeks were stung and burned by the crisp north wind.

The sun is down and stars are out. It is not a good sign. That means another hard freeze tonight. It is already 22 degrees at 7:30pm. Brrrrr... And the forecast is for snow and more cold the rest of the week.

Snowy Day at Edmonds
White caps on the sound - Mt. Baker in the distance.

December 18, 2008

Snow in Edmonds

December Snow in Edmonds

We have been in a cold weather pattern since Saturday. A low pressure created a trough which pulled cold air down from Alaska and British Columbia. It has pushed the cold down into California.

The forecast was for snow to start as early as late Tuesday night. Wednesday morning - nothing. The Olympics created a snow shadow and no snow. The doppler radars screens were amazing. It had created a doughnut with snow circling around the edges of the Puget Sound.

Everyone was gripping on Wednesday about how the schools had canceled their classes but there was no snow. I feel so sorry for the administrators who have to make a decision at 5:30am on what to do. The best headline was "Seattle paralyzed by chance of snow".

We kept waiting around but nothing happened. Then it finally started yesterday afternoon around 3pm. It was light small flakes. We got a good coating by the early evening.

Snow Storm in Edmonds

It continued this morning. I took the ruler and checked the amount on the deck. We received 2-3 inches. The traffic was a mess. There are many major highways closed and people abandoning vehicles. I am sooooo glad that I do not have to drive in it.

I decided to go out for a walk this afternoon. I bundled up, pulled out the hiking boots, gators to cover the ankles and keep the snow out of my shoes and started out. I was surprised at the amount of people out, both walking and also driving.

First I headed for Chase Lake, a small pond that is behind our house. It is a peat bog and used as a storm runoff area. It was covered with a light coating of ice. Under the bridge there was a small bit of the pond that hadn't yet started to ice over. Two ducks were swimming around wondering what the hell was going on. A snow plow went by. Cool. I hadn't seen one in the neighborhood before. It was good to see that Edmonds had one checking the major streets.

I came back and then walked the opposite way. The street goes up hill. The kids were out with their sleds. At the top, was an accident. One truck had slide into a fire hydrant and rock after hitting another truck. Fortunately, it had not caused any water to leak from the hydrant.

Back home, I have been watching the birds in our backyard. We have suet cakes up which attract flickers and woodpeckers. We have two hummingbird feeders and a group of Anna hummingbirds which over winter in our area. We have been bringing them in at night to prevent them from freezing and then put them out in the morning. They are always waiting nearby for the feeder.

Currently it is 27 and snow continues. Here are some pictures from my walk.

December Snow in Edmonds December Snow in Edmonds
December Snow in Edmonds December Snow in Edmonds
December Snow in Edmonds December Snow in Edmonds

December 19, 2008

Snowy night walk

Suburban Christmas lights

Brrrrr... is it cold. The sun came out today but it never got about 27 degrees. We put the chains on the car and headed out to stock up on supplies. We hadn't left our house since Sunday and started to run out of a few perishables; milk, lettuce, etc. It was busy out. Everyone was running around stocking up and doing Christmas shopping. The malls all closed early yesterday due to the snow. Not good especially with the economy.

After dinner, I really had the urge to get out and go for another walk in the snow. G didn't really want to go. So I bundled up and took the walkie-talkie. It was just about 20 degrees when I headed out.

It was so beautiful. The skies were clear and the stars were out. The Christmas lights in the neighborhood looked so nice in the snow. There were a few people out sleding but overall pretty quiet. I checked in once or twice with G. He told me it had dropped to 16 degrees! No wonder my cheeks stung.

I headed back. I was getting tired. The snow was so fluffy and light but I had to watch it when ever I crossed a driveway or street. Those were really slick.

It was 15 degrees when I got back. It is still dropping. I wonder how low it will go tonight?

Suburban Christmas lights Suburban Christmas lights
Suburban Christmas lights Suburban Christmas lights

Here are some pictures. The blur is a sledder.

December 20, 2008

PhotoHunt: Wide


Waimea Canyon - Kauai
Waimea Canyon on Kauai, Hawaii

This week's Photohunt is wide. Here is a wide canyon on the island of Kauai. - Waimea Canyon. It is over 1 mile wide at places.

December 22, 2008

Backyard Birds

One of the nice things about being snowed in is the ability to slow down and savor what is in your backyard. We have been watching the comings and goings of the winter birds. We have a feeder and have put out extra pans of food. We also have two suet cakes which are very popular and the two hummingbird feeders.

Today the sun came out and the bird visitors increased. We even had a visit from a local hawk.

Here are some of our visitors

Male Red Shafted Northern Flicker

Male Red Shafted Northern Flicker

Female Red Shafted Northern Flicker

Female Red Shafted Northern Flicker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Bush Tits

Bush Tits

Male Anna's Hummingbird

Male Anna's Hummingbird


December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays


I hope everyone has a great holiday season especially my Slow Travel buddies. I have enjoyed reading about your travels and adventures. And wish everyone many travels in the New Year. My gosh, the decade is almost over. Happy 2009!

December 27, 2008

PhotoHunt: Squeaky


Squeaky Mouse in Winter Snow

This week's PhotoHunt topic is squeaky. Boy was this one a challenge. Several items came to mind - door, pet toy, snow, shoes but I didn't really have any pictures that conveyed the topic until G mentioned mouse. Ah ha! I just took a picture last week of a small mouse that was coming out in the snow to the bird feeder. We only saw him one day and he was stock piling seeds. We think he may have had a small nest in a group of pots. We never see him except during snow storms. He's probably always out there but he blends in well with the surrounding colors.

I hope he is still around. We saw two hawks in the yard yesterday looking for food. He would make an excellent meal for them. Winter survival is harsh.

January 5, 2009

All about Me Meme


I came across this meme and I liked the questions. It doesn't really have a name but I thought the questions were very interesting and a great way to get to know more about a person. I'd love to read your answers.

    Not anyone specific but a song. Tony Martin had a hit song in titled "Marta, Rambling Rose of the Wildwood" which my parents loved.
    Friday at the end of Pride and Prejudice
    It is okay - at least it is legible.
    Well.. hello! Of course.
    No but I have ziplined.
    Depends on the shoe. I can't get hiking boots off unless I untie them.
    Definitely strong willed.
    Anything Chocolate
    Their smile and sense of humor
  14. RED OR PINK?
    My hips
    My cat
    Multicolored slippers
    Leftovers of Cindy's Fish Soup.
    My hubby practice the guitar
    My shampoo - it reminds me of Villefranche sur mer. Also cookies baking.
    Clerk at Borneo Rainforest Lodge
    None - I'm not into sports
    Dark brown
  25. EYE COLOR?
    Anything Mexican
    Sappy endings. I don't like scary movies.
    Burn after Reading
    Definitely Summer
    Any seasonal fruit or fruit tart.
    "Espresso with the Headhunters" by John Wassner and "Kennedy's Brain" by Henning Mankell.
    Slow Travel
    Didn't watch anything
    The sound of wind in the trees and the sound of the ocean.
    Beatles. I've never liked the Rolling Stones.
    South Africa - 10,000 miles from home (beats Perth Australia by about 1,000 miles!)
    I can take great close up pictures.

January 10, 2009

PhotoHunt: Aftermath


Mountain Loop Highway
Washed out bank along Mountain Loop Highway

This week's PhotoHunt topic is Aftermath. These last few topics have really challenged me. Surprisingly I don't take many pictures after an event. I was surprised.

But after some searching, I remembered that I had a couple of pictures of a scenic loop highway in the Cascades that had been washed out in the last floods. We have had some dramatic weather recently - very warm November, freezing snowy December and now January floods. The weather warmed up after the Christmas snows and we also got a tropical storm from Hawaii bringing heavy warm rains. Those two combined has resulted in most of the major rivers in Western Washington flooding. It is not that unusual to have flooding in January especially in the area of the Snoqualmie River, but this combination has flooded every river and closed the major interstate highway I-5 at Chehalis. Fortunately there have been no deaths but many people are facing major work recovering their homes after being flooded.

Here are more samples of the force of water.

Mountain Loop Highway
Mountain Loop Highway

Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls after heavy rains

January 17, 2009

PhotoHunt: Hat


Photohunt: Hat

This week's PhotoHunt topic is hat. Hats to me are rather dated. My father always wore a hat either a fedora or a billed hat similar to baseball hat. I still remember his hat size 7 1/8.

Today, hats are much more utilitarian than stylish. We have several hats that we wear while hiking or working outside in the sunshine. It is also not cold enough to frequently wear anything other than a wool pullover hat.

I dug around and found the photo about of my husband and his straw hiking hat. Look closely - you can probably guess where we were - and you might also see me.

January 20, 2009

Inauguration Thoughts

Obama Inauguration

What a day. Oh happy day!

I never would have guessed that I would feel such hope and anticipation as I do today. Four years ago, I was in Holland awaiting the results from Ohio that would give us four more years of George Bush. My co-workers asked "How? How could Americans elect George Bush again?" I had no good answer. Fear. Fear of terrorism; fear of disrupting their financial security; fear of change.

And now, today we are making history. Barack Hussain Obama... our inspiration and hope... is now leading. And he has a brain! So much rests on his shoulders.

Over the years, I have become more and more removed from our nation's leadership and politics. It is not how I was raised. I spent my teenage years with tears and emotion for Bobby and Martin. I had some hopes raised during the Clinton years but it was never the same. Until now.

I did not think we would elect Obama, a man of color, a man of intelligence. But yes we did. And now it is time for us to help him. Help him make this a great nation again.

Here are some scenes from today's ceremonies

Inauguration Day

Inauguration Day

Obama Inauguration

Obama Inauguration

Obama Inauguration

Obama Inauguration

Obama Inauguration

Obama Inauguration

Obama Inauguration

Obama Inauguration

Obama Inauguration

January 22, 2009

Inauguration Photos

There has been quite a bit of talk on the net about Inauguration photos. Here are two sites where I have found some extremely moving photos - both the inauguration and the transfer of power. I highly recommend checking these out.

White House Photos from Time Magazine (Check out the post for 1/21 doesn't he look great! Also the simple but so expressive photo for 1/6)

The Boston Globe has an outstanding series of photos called the "Big Picture". I was so looking forward to what they would post for the inauguration. It lived up to my expectations. I found the whole series very interesting and extremely moving. Not only great pictures of the day but also of the reaction world wide - Big Picture photos of the Inauguration

January 24, 2009

PhotoHunt: Chipped


SFR French Sim Chip

This week's PhotoHunt topic is chipped. There were many ways to go with this topic - chipped bark, chipper, chipped dish. I decided to go with my French SIM chip. Okay... okay... it isn't really 'chipped'. I always thought it was so cool that I had a Parisian phone number. It has expired so I guess it is 'chipped'.

I've been playing with my phones. I can't decide if I'm going to take them and get a Malaysian phone chip while I'm in Borneo. It is kinda nice to be unplugged for a while.

January 31, 2009

PhotoHunt: Furry


Furry Paws

This week's PhotoHunt topic is furry. I couldn't resist posting a photo of my cat but I didn't want it to be the typical kitty photo. Here is one that I took a while back while practicing my macro. Here is another furry shot.

Kitty nose

February 1, 2009

February Blogging

February Bloggers

It is happening again - The Slow Travel February Blogging. We did it last February and have decided to give it a try again this year. It is a great way to get to know more of the Slow Travel Bloggers.

I will be in Borneo half of the month so I'm not going to be able to do a full month. I hope to blog when I can from Borneo and maybe schedule a few posts for while I'm gone. Here is the list of the group. Add them to your blog reader or drop in from time to time and check out our posts.

A Journey of a Thousand...
A Winelover's Wanderings
Baked Alaska
Best Trip Ever
Candi's Corner: Wanderlust and Passions
Churches in Venice
Destination Anywhere
Eden's Wanderings and Wonderings
Follow My Bliss
Home is where my bed is
In and Out of the Garden
Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!
Keep your Feet in the Street
Let us go then, you and I...
My Place in the Sun
Old Shoes - New Trip
Palmabella's Passions
Postcards from the Trail
shave ice & gelato
That's My Story...And I'm Stickin' To It!
The Trail's Our Thing
Trekcapri's Blog
Vagabond Artist
What I Really Think
Whistlestop Cafe Cooking

February 7, 2009

PhotoHunt: Bridge


Oakland San Francisco Bay Bridge

This week's PhotoHunt topic is bridge. The Oakland San Francisco Bay Bridge is one of my favorite bridges. Not the Golden Gate. I think it is because of all the great times I had traveling to "The City". It was my escape from the boredom of the valley. My excitement would start as we pulled up to the toll plaza and started up across to the magical city. Here is a photo of it taken from the the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

March 7, 2009

PhotoHunt: Space


High Sierra view from Mt Whitney

This week's PhotoHunt is Space. My family have lived in the American West for three generations. Wide open spaces are in my blood. It is what I think of when I hear 'space'. The large expanses of open space that still exist here in the West.

We climbed one of the mountains in the West that took us the closest one could walk to space in the continental US - Mt. Whitney. At 14,495ft, it is the highest peak in the continental US. The peak tops of the high Sierra mountains laid at our feet and deep valleys were seen in the distance. It was a tremendous effort to climb in one day (17 hours, 22 miles, 6000ft elevation gain). One of my life goals.

Trail Camp

Trail Camp at around 12,000ft - we reached this area by 9am

Trail Crest
Trail Crest - Joining up with the John Muir Trail

View across Sierra Peak tops
Distance Sierra Peak tops west of the crest trail

View from Mt. Whitney trail
Wide open spaces

March 14, 2009

PhotoHunt: Four


Four Cousins

This week's Photohunt Theme is Four. It was hard for me to find something with 4 in my photos. Odd numbers such as 3 or 5 are more aesthetic for photo composition. I came across this one of 4 cousins and thought it would work.

March 21, 2009

PhotoHunt: Yellow



It is time again for PhotoHunt. This week's theme is perfect for the beginning of spring - Yellow. I couldn't resist selecting a cheery yellow flower. This is a coreopsis that I took in the Sacramento Historical Cemetery. The Old City Cemetery has a program to let gardeners adopt a plot. There are excellent perennial beds, a beautiful rose garden and a section devoted to California native plants. We always enjoy exploring the gardens. And the cemetery is also very interesting. Many of the California pioneers such as John Sutter are buried in the cemetery and there are very interesting headstones.

Here are a few more pictures:



Old City Cemetery - Sacramento

Old City Cemetery - Sacramento

April 4, 2009

PhotoHunt: Stripes


La Fête de Saint-Michel Menton

It is time again for a Photohunt. This week's topic is stripes. This was actually a fun hunt for me. I did not remember right off any photos with stripes. The first one I came across were some Zebras but I've used similar photos in other photohunts. I wanted something different.

I found the fun photo of St Michel's Day in Menton. St Michel is the patron saint of the beautiful Basilica of Archangel Saint Michael in the Menton old town. St Michel's Day is September 30th and we just happened to be staying just down the street from the church. We were out walking and we noticed that people were gathered in the courtyard in front of the Church. I remembered that it was St Michel's Day since that was also the patron saint of the church in Villefranche sur Mer where I had been studying French.

We waited around and after the Sunday service, a group of men in stripped French shirts - the dress of a Mentonnais fisherman carried out the Archangel Saint Michael. They carried him down the ramps and out to the seaside followed by groups of musicians and dancers in local costumes. It was one of the serendipity chance occurrences that you stumble upon while traveling that stays in your memories.

Here are a few more pictures:

La Fête de Saint-Michel Menton

La Fête de Saint-Michel Menton

La Fête de Saint-Michel Menton

Basilique St-Michel in Menton

Related post:

April 11, 2009

PhotoHunt: Triangle


Triangle windchime

The first thing that came to my mind was the triangle musical instrument. Or a pyramid. I couldn't find a picture of the Mayan pyramids that I took so I decided to post a picture of my garden wind chime. My niece gave it to me last year. I love it especially the butterflies.

I want to wish everyone a "Happy Easter".

April 18, 2009

PhotoHunt: Purple


Phlox hoodii

Phlox hoodii - Central Washington wildflower

Today is Saturday and that means it is Photohunt time. This week's theme is purple. This week we have been watching the weather and checking the reports of the wildflower blooms in Central Washington.

Central Washington, from along the eastern slopes of the Cascades through the steppe foothills and into the desert basalt cliffs magically erupts into bloom from around mid-April to the end of May. We will watch the trail reports on Northwest Hiker forum to see what is in bloom and then head east to hunt for flowers. Some of our favorite places are on the country roads outside of Ellensburg; Whiskey Dick, Vantages, Reeser Canyon.

The colors are quite diverse but there is many little flower gems in purple. Here is a sample.

Showy Phlox (Phlox speciosa)

Showy Phlox on the slopes above Vantage.

Wooly-pod Locoweed (Astragalus purshii)

Wooly pod Locoweed (Astragalus purshii)

Reeser Road Wildflower Drive

Purple lupine

Reeser Road Wildflower Drive

Penstemon fruticosus

Olsynium douglasii - Purple-eyed grass

Widow's Grass - Olsynium douglasii

Viola trinervata - Sagebrush violet

Tri-color viola - Viola trinervata

April 25, 2009

PhotoHunt: Protection


Rue Obsure

Rue Obsure at night

This week's Photohunt is protection. Let's look at the lovely village of Villefranche sur Mer on the French Riviera and see how it has been protected over the years.

Today, looking at the luxury villas and expensive yachts, it is difficult to realize that this region of France was always under attack and frequently changed rulers. The area was hotly disputed between the Duchy of Savoy and France. It did not become part of France until 1860.

Modern day Villefranche sur Mer started in 1295 when the Duke of Anjou who later became Count of Provence, enticed the local hilltop inhabitants to move closer to the bay to secure the harbor from pirates. The port was declared a free port giving tax and port revenue to the city. The name Villefranche sur Mer means 'free city'.

As the city built up, the 'Rue Obscure' or Dark Street was built. It dates back to the XIVth century. It is located just behind the seafront buildings and runs to the ramparts above the city. The building built up and over the street and it became covered. This provided good refuge for the villagers when attacked. It was also a good place to hide goods such as wine. The inhabitants even used it as late as WWII during a parting German attack at the end of the war.

In 1543, the city was attacked and occupied which led the Duke of Savoy to create two forts, the Citadel along the water and one high on the Mont Alban above the city to protect the village. The forts were not always successful the the city exchanged hands several times.

Today, tourists roam the darkly lit Rue Obscure, the city hall (Mairie) and museums inhabit the citadel and the hilltop fortress waits to be renovated.

Rue Obsure
Rue Obsure

Villefranche sur Mer waterfront

Villefranche sur Mer waterfront - Rue Obscure located just behind these buildings

Fort Montalban
Fort du Mont Alban above Villefranche sur Mer

Citadel at Villefranche sur Mer
The Citadel

View from ramparts of Citadel
Ancient Citadel canon to protect the bay

View from ramparts of Citadel
Bay view from the ramparts of the Citadel in Villefranche sur Mer

Villefranche sur Mer waterfront

Lovely waterfront today.

May 2, 2009

PhotoHunt: Walking


Walk in the Fog

Walk in the Fog

This week's Photohunt is walking. Here is a photo of G walking in the fog up on Mount Rainier last August. It is our favorite spot for a walk in the mountains. Have a great weekend everyone.

May 9, 2009

PhotoHunt: In Memory



This week's photohunt is In Memory. It has been over 10 years for my father and just over 8 years since my mother passed away. They say time will heal sorry but there always seems to be left a hole. Recently my husband's brother-in-law passed away. He was our age so it brought back many memories for me.

It is also Mother's Day - a perfect time to remember my mother. In fact, I'm going to take the time and celebrate family. Here are two photos of my parents and I when I was a young elementary school girl. I love seeing my dad in hats. He wore them daily. And don't you love the shoes my mom were wearing?

Have a great weekend everyone.

May 16, 2009

PhotoHunt: Painted



This week's photohunt is painted. I remembered this often photographed door in beautiful village of Roussillon in France. Roussillon is in the Luberon area of Provence. I thought of the village not only for this beautiful door but also because it was situated in one of the largest ochre quarries. The town has created a variety of artists. But what appeals to many people are the wide varieties of red, yellow and brown earth towns that color the buildings in the town. Many of these are accented with lovely Provencal blue or hunter green. Art abounds throughout the town.

We visited this "Plus Beaux Village" in October 2007. We loved the colors of the buildings. Here are a few more examples of the beauty of the village.


A restaurant closed for the afternoon


Blue shutters on the ochre building


Lovely pastel buildings near the weekly farmers market

Ochre hills surrounding the town

Artist studio




Ocher wall details

May 23, 2009

PhotoHunt: Plastic


Pot roundup

This week's PhotoHunt is plastic. This was very hard for me. I finally found the photo above of the garden nursery pots that we gathered up to take to recycle. G had a nursery for 10 years and we had collected a variety of sizes. We finally decided to clean up and took them to our local plastic recycler.

Have a great weekend.

May 30, 2009

PhotoHunt: Books



This week's photohunt theme is Books. I knew right off which photo I was going to choose. This is one of favorites. I took this photo just before my trip to France in 2007. We pulled out all our books and did some last minute planning. Soon I flew off to Nice France to study for 4 weeks at the Institut de Francais in Villefranche sur Mer. What a fun trip.

Have a great weekend!

Related Posts:

June 6, 2009

PhotoHunt: Advertisement


Tambang or water taxi on Sarawak River
Tambang or water taxi on Sarawak River

This week's photohunt theme is Advertisement. I decided to go through a few of my travel photos looking for any interesting photos of advertisements. We were intrigued with these water taxis in Kuching. We didn't get a chance to take one across the river. It would have been fun. They had various different ads on their roofs. This is an advertisement for pre-paid cell phone card that also could be used to purchase music, ring tones and games for your cell. I think it was popular with youth. They sold these cards in vending machines in some restaurants and other small stores.

I also loved this billboard for another cell phone company - Celcom. I think it was saying it was number 1 in Sarawak. The woman is holding an image of the cat statue in Kuching.

Billboard in Kuching

Kuching Cat statue

Last, I'm going to include an advertisement for a traiteur (caterer or take out) and charcuterie, (deli specializing in sausage and meats) located in the town of Moustiers Sainte Marin in Southern France. I just love the little pink pigs. I suspect they don't know where they are headed!

Advertisment in Moustiers - Sainte Marie France

Have a great weekend everyone.

June 13, 2009

PhotoHunt: Lock


Ballard Locks
The Ballard Locks

Lock has a wide variety of meanings - a lock of hair, enlocked arms, a means to secure something. But I couldn't pass by the meaning that has local significance:

Lock: an enclosure (as in a canal) with gates at each end used in raising or lowering boats as they pass from level to level.

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks known locally as the Ballard Locks are are part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, connecting the fresh water Lake Washington to the salty Puget Sound. These were built between 1911 and 1917. Today they continue under the control of the Army Corp of Engineers transporting both pleasure boats and commercial boats. For more on Locks - here is the Wikipedia entry.

It is always fun to watch the boats enter the lock. It takes a while until boats are secured along the sides and the door close. Then water will fill or empty from the lock to raise or lower the boats depending upon whether they are going to or from the Sound. You can walk along narrow walkways above the massive doors which gives you an excellent view down on the boats. The Locks are a favorite of both locals and tourists.

There is also an excellent garden on the Locks property. The area is very temperate since it is close to the water and it is a good place to see plants exotic to Seattle such as palm trees and Princess Tree. There is also a large terraced grass hillside overlooking the locks which is a favorite place to picnic or just watch the boat traffic.

Here are a few more photos of the Locks.

Ballard Locks
Grassy slopes - favorite place to boat watch

Ballard Locks
Railroad Tressle - normally up to for tall or large boats to pass under

Ballard Locks
Boats heading into the lock from the Puget Sound

Ballard Locks
Interesting sculpture at the Locks

June 20, 2009

PhotoHunt: Creamy


Strawberry Chianti
Strawberries in Chianti

It is Saturday - That means it is time to hunt photos again. This week's theme is Creamy. I dug around through some of my cooking photos for a few items I've made the past year or so highlighting creamy items.

Strawberries in Chianti
Whipped Cream

Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate Cream Pie

Poached Pears
Poached Pears with Mascarpone

June 27, 2009

PhotoHunt: Flag


Kuching building
Malaysian Flags decorating building in Kuching

It is Saturday - That means it is time to hunt photos again. This week's theme is Flag. Boy did I have a hard hard time with this theme. I almost did not post. I was looking for another picture of a US flag on one of the Washington State Ferries but I could not find it. This morning I finally remembered this picture that I took in Kuching in Malaysia. I loved the colors of the building and the flags were a nice contrast to the pastel colors.

Have a great weekend and check out more hunters at Tnchick

July 4, 2009

PhotoHunt: Pink


Salvia and  hummingbird
Salvia involucrata 'El Cielo' with a hummingbird

This week's Photohunt theme is pink. We grow Salvias, one of the largest plant genus in the world. Salvia genus includes the culinary herb, sage. But there are many different varieties from desert to tropical. It also occurs in many different colors from white to dark purple. Here are some of the variety of pink Salvia flowers.

Salvia involucrata 'El-Cielo'
Salvia involucrata "El Cielo"

Salvia 'Trinidad Pink'
Salvia 'Trinidad Pink'

Salvia greggii "SavanahBurgundy"
Salvia greggii "Savanah Burgundy"

Salvia "Wild Watermelon"
Salvia "Wild Watermelon"

Salvia spathacea
Salvia spathacea

Salvia spathacea found near Santa Barbara
Salvia spathacea found in the wild in the mountains near Santa Barbara, CA

July 18, 2009

PhotoHunt: Rock


Mt Whitney from Alabama Hills
Mt Whitney - highest mountain in continental US

This week's photohunt theme is rocks. I knew I would not have any difficulty with this theme except the difficulty choosing a photo. We love to hike and there are always rocks when hiking. But what hike to highlight?

Our climb up Mt. Whitney won out. Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the continental US. Mt. McKinley is higher but it is in Alaska. The mountain is located in eastern California about 6 hour drive north of Los Angeles. It was 14,496 ft when we climbed it but it has been remeasured and is now officially 14,505 ft or 4,421 m. That is a lot of rock!

We climbed it in 2004 to celebrate my 50th birthday. You have to plan ahead to both train and get a permit for the climb. We entered a lottery in January and got a day pass to do the climb in late July. We decided to do it in one day so I wouldn't have to carry a heavy pack.

But it is a challenge to do in one day. It is 22 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 6,131ft. We started hiking at 3am - made it to the summit shortly after noon and arrived back around 7pm. I think going down was harder than going up. The trail was mostly rock and a killer. But what an accomplishment.

More pictures:

Along the trail to the summit of Mt. Whitney
Small tarn along the summit trail to Mt. Whitney

The Needles and Mt. Whitney above Trail Camp
The Needles and Mt. Whitney above Trail Camp near 12,000Ft

The Cables on Mt. Whitney Trail
The Cables above Trail Camp on Mt. Whitney Trail

Top of Mt. Whitney
Nothing but rock at the top

At the Summit
Happy hikers at the summit of Mt. Whitney

Related posts:

July 25, 2009

Photohunt: Utensils


Hazelnut and Grape Tart
Wire whisk for beating eggs whites

This week's Photohunt theme is utensils. This is another easy one. I was able to find a couple more photos of different utensils used for baking and cooking. Have a great weekend!

Strawberries in Chianti
Measuring cup and spoons

Potato Ricer

Edited to Add: A couple of people of wondered about the final products. Here they are

July 28, 2009

Summer heatwave

Tomatoes - First Harvest

Hot summers are rare in Seattle. Located near the water, there is always a cool marine influence. This year it has been hot and dry! It happens. If it is going to get hot in Seattle - it will the last two weeks of July and beginning of August. I remember this happening more in the '70s and '80s. Hot sweaty nights where there is barely a breeze. It has been years since we have had a week of temperatures in the upper 80s and 90s. For once, I'm actually loving it.

It was very different growing up in the central valley of California. The heat can start as early as March although it usually really gets hot June - September. It can be long stretches of over 100 degree weather. I remember my mother standing over the stove wiping sweat as she cooked dinner. We did not have central heat but we did have tall ceilings to help disperse the heat. We installed three window air conditioners that we would turn on about 11am and we would 'close up the house' - basically close off several rooms to keep it cool in the main living areas. In the evenings - if we were lucky - a marine breeze would flow off the delta and bring a breeze. We would open the window and let it cool off the house.

But it was also the time of bounty. We would take drives in the early evening into the country to buy the best peaches in the world. Sometimes a farmer would drive around and sell watermelons out of the back of his pick up. They were so sweet and juicy - just out of the hot fields. I definitely miss the great fruit.

The one good thing about the heat is our tomatoes are ripening. Yeah! We had our first tonight. We had a couple Stupice and a few Sungolds.

Tomatoes - First Harvest
Stupice - first to ripen

August 1, 2009

Photohunt: Entertainment


Out to Lunch Concert 7/28

This week's Photohunt theme is Entertainment. Seattle has a great summer lunch time concert series called Out to Lunch. We saw that the California Guitar Trio was playing and decided to spend the day downtown. I was playing with my camera and tried the Color Accent setting. It takes a black and white photo and accents just the selected color. I liked how the photo of the concert turned out with just a hint of cool blue.

I wish the day had been a cool as the photo looks. It wasn't. It was the hottest day in Seattle's history at 103 degrees. Fortunately, it was shady and not too hot in the square. And it was great entertainment. The California Guitar Trio was excellent.

Here are a few more shots of the concert:

Out to Lunch Concert 7/28

Out to Lunch Concert 7/28

View from 2 Union Square Seattle
Shady view of Downtown Seattle buildings

August 8, 2009

Photohunt: Low


Baby It is even colder outside

This week's photohunt theme is low. I couldn't come up with anything so I went with a photo of the 'low' temperatures we had last winter. It was down below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a nice contrast to the past few warm weeks. The temps are back to normal here in Seattle - highs in the low '70s. Here are a couple other photos from the week of low temperature and snow we had last December.

December Snow in Edmonds

December Snow in Edmonds

August 15, 2009

Photohunt: Artificial


Big Ram at Wagin

This week's photohunt is artificial. This one was very tough. I didn't want to go out and take a picture of some artificial item in my kitchen cabinet. But I remembered one of the Australian 'Big' things we saw on our trip to Western Australia. "Big thing?" you say...

The "Big Things" are a group of large structures in Australia - huge artificial statues located around the country. They are somewhat cult phenomenon. Nothing like going out of the way to see a large roadside attraction. Here's a bit on the Big Things from wikipedia.

Here is another shot - yep... he is definitely a ram. :)

Big Ram at Wagin WA

August 22, 2009

Photohunt: Ripples



This week's Photohunt is ripples. There were several different ways to approach this theme, rippling muscles, ripple ice cream, rippling fabric but I decided to go with the obvious - rippling water.

This theme was fun. I looked over several albums of photos that I had not reviewed in a while and came across this picture of a color of the sunset reflecting off the ripples of a wave along with the shadow of a seagull. I took this picture just about a year ago on our yurt camping trip to Cape Disappointment State Park near the mouth of the Columbia River. We went down to the beach after dinner and watched the sun set into the ocean.

Cape Disappointment

September 5, 2009

Photohunt: Orange


Antelope Valley California

This week's Photohunt is orange. I could not resist using flowers for this week's theme.

Our passion is wildflowers. We love the plants and flowers of the areas of the world that are in the Mediterranean biome. The Mediterranean biome is 5 areas of the world around 30 degrees North and South in latitude. These areas are the area bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the west coast of California, the west coast of Chile, the west coast of Southern Africa and the west coast of Australia. The climate in these area follow similar patterns - mild winters, hot dry summers. In some years - late in the winter and early spring, there will be rain brought on from the storms along the equator. This rainfall will awaken the dry hillsides and produce a stunning bloom in the spring.

We have visited each of these areas. It is surprising how similar they are during the early spring. Dry desert chaparral/woodland that erupt into carpets of wildflowers. I'm also surprised at the amount of orange wildflowers blooms in these areas. For comparison, here are the spring blooms of California and South Africa.

Antelope Valley California:

Antelope Valley California

Antelope Valley California

Antelope Valley California

Southern Africa - Namaqua National Park near Springbok

Namaqua National Park

Namaqua National Park

Namaqua National Park
Namaqua National Park - South Africa

Namaqua National Park

September 10, 2009

A moment for peace

Worldwide Moment 09.09.09+09GMT@09:09

It all started with a tweet I read on Monday. A global simultaneous photo shoot for peace - a worldwide moment for peace. It had happened last year on August 8th (08/08/08). The idea was to do it again this year on September 9 at 9:09am in the +09GMT time zone. (09.09.09+09GMT@09:09)

The Worldwide Moment website had lots of information. The trick was figure out when the moment would be happening in your timezone. +09GMT is Tokyo. On the west coast of the US, that was 5:09 on September 8th.

I signed up and sent a tweet out. One of my Slow Travel friends, TrekCapri decided to join in. She took an excellent photo of the rainbow Peace Pace flag. You can see her photo on - TrekCapri's Blog.

I had several different ideas for my photo. I was set up to take a picture of a Buddha Hand Citrus that is ripening in our backyard. The fruit is often given at temples as a symbol of happiness, longevity, and good fortune. But I turned around and loved the look our garden in the setting sun. The garden is our peaceful refuge and my photo for the moment.

Check out the Worldwide Moment website in a couple of days to see the gallery of this year's photos. They are still organizing the over 1100 photos received from 58 countries.

Worldwide Moment

September 12, 2009

Photohunt: Electric


Manual Mixer
Yesterday - Manual Egg Beater / Mixer

Electric Mixer
Today - Electric Mixer

This week's Photohunt is Electric.

Hmmm... lots of possibilities. Electric appliance came to mind for me. Everyday - we use many electric appliances. I am old enough to remember the days when our kitchens were not fully electric. Remember making coffee on the stove with a coffee percolator. It was a big move when we got our first drip coffee maker. Now I have come full circle and occasionally use a stove espresso maker.

What about can openers? I still use the manual one - not the electric can opener although my mother loved it when they came out with it.

One kitchen keepsake that I have is an rotary egg beater pictured above. I learned to cook using this beater. I used it mainly for beating eggs and cream. The one killer item I made with it was Angel Food Cake. Yes - you can beat a dozen egg whites with manual rotary. I think they come out even higher than the electric one.

I don't have a stand up electric mixer (aka Kitchen Aid). This is my second electric hand beater. My first one finally died after 25 years of faithful service.

September 19, 2009

Photohunt: Upside-Down


Hanbury Gardens - Italy
Upside down reflection in the garden pond at Hanbury Gardens in Italy

This week's Photohunt is Upside Down.

This was tough. I could not think of anything creative so I posted this upside down reflection the the building at Hanbury Gardens in Italy. We visited it almost exactly 2 years ago - October 4th 2007. It is a lovely garden and I highly recommend visiting.

I posted this photo previously but I realize now that my earlier picture was not rotated correctly. This is the correct picture. Here is another post on the garden.

Hanbury Garden 2

September 26, 2009

Photohunt: Twisted

Chihuly at DeYoung

This week's Photohunt is Twisted. I had a couple of different ideas - twisted horns, twisty road but I've decided to go with the twisted glass art from Dale Chihuly. These shots are from his show last year at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. I love the lighting and the bright colors in addition to the twists and turns of glass.

Here are a few more:

Chihuly at DeYoung

Chihuly at DeYoung

Chihuly at DeYoung

Chihuly at DeYoung

Related: Photohunt: Colorful

October 1, 2009

Samsung N110 Netbook

My New Netbook - Samsung N110

I have a new toy - a netbook. I have wanted one since last Christmas. I almost got one before we went to Borneo but G convinced me to wait. I think he did not want one more item to take with us and potentially lose.

I am glad that I waited. I was looking at the models that they have at Costco. These are the Acer and the HP. I liked the keyboard on the HP but the battery life was terrible - two hours. I did not like the Acer's keyboard or touchpad.

We have had a discussion recently on Slow Travel forum and one of our members mentioned that she recently purchased the Samsung N110. I had read several good reviews. I liked the fact that the keyboard was 93% size of a typical laptop.

I took a trip to Best Buy to see if I could try one out. They did not have any on the floor and did not plan on getting any more in stock until Windows 7 shipped. Hmmmm... I did not want to Windows 7. I prefer XP. I decided to go ahead and purchase it without trying it out.

I checked around at the prices on Pricegrabber, Bing and a review link. I found it at Newegg for $344 with no shipping fees and no taxes. It was a little less expensive at a couple of other sites and I could have gotten a Bing cashback but I decided to go directly with Newegg.

I ordered it on Saturday and it arrived today via UPS ground from Southern California. It was easy to setup. One tip is when it boots the first time after configuring XP, the Samsung utilities will make a backup of the original installation. If you click advanced, you can choose the partition size. It will default to a 50-50 partition, I decided to go with 40-60 to make a larger partition for data.

I love the keyboard. The spacebar is just about at the right spot, it has raised notches on the J and F key which helps keep my hands oriented on the keyboard, the shift keys are in the right spot and the cursor pad keys are friendly. The touchpad is a little hard to get used to. I haven't used one much so it might take a bit. I do like the scrolling bar on the side and the mouse buttons are easy to use. It will a little bit to get the highlighting technique mastered.

I have FIOS which comes with a wireless router. My desktop was directly connected and so this was the first time I had connected via wi-fi. It was a snap to get on. It is also pretty fast. I am now installing and configuring my utilities. I downloaded Firefox so I can get rid of the ads and speed up my browsing. I am also trying a free photo editing program - PhotoScape. I used it to edit these pictures.

I'm extremely happy and satisfied with the netbook.

Netbook box

Samsung N110

Samsung keyboard

October 3, 2009

Photohunt: Words


Rental Campervan

This week's photohunt theme is Words. This is a little strange theme. I do take pictures of signs but I've never thought about it as 'words'. I decided to highlight this picture of a rental camper van that we saw in Kalbarri National Park in Western Australia. It was definitely covered with 'Words'. We saw a couple of different vans from the same company. They had similar but different slogans on them. They would appeal to a younger group but we did enjoy seeing them.

October 10, 2009

Photohunt: Sports



This week's Photohunt theme is Sports. I knew right off what I would post. We enjoy going to our local all girl Roller Derby matches. It is a take off on the old Roller Derby from the '60s mixed with today's alternative culture. Lots of piercing, tattoos, and gothic costumes. But it is also a great sport and fun time. If you have a local team, I highly recommend checking out a match.

Here are a few more photos:

Prematch last minute coaching

Waiting for the Whistle





October 17, 2009

Photohunt: Free Week


After a Fall Rain
The garden reflected in raindrops on Salvia mexicana

This week's photohunt is a free week - we get to share the photo of our choice.

I woke up to a hard rain on the roof. The forecast was for a storm of tropical moisture. It was warm but wet. It was just the type where you wanted to pull the covers over your head and sleep - which I did.

The rest of the day was very low keyed. I shuffled around and read a bit. I watched a large flock of robins land on the lawn overjoyed by the rain and a new source of food. Tug - tug - they got another worm. The raccoons enjoyed the new stream behind out house that the country had just completed their once-every-10-year cut back.

The gray lightened and I noticed that the rain had stopped. The leaves out the window were covered with sparkling rain drops. I grabbed my camera and here are a few of the shots from a rainy fall day.

After a Fall Rain

After a Fall Rain

After a Fall Rain

After a Fall Rain

After a Fall Rain

October 24, 2009

Photohunt: Tied


Farmer's market

This week's photohunt is tied. Nothing much came to mind with this theme. I found these recent pictures from the Ballard Market with tied bunches of green onions that I liked. I also played around with it and did a little photoshop modification. It is subtle but I like using the Poster edges tool.

Have a great weekend.

Farmer's market

Farmer's market
Tied bunches of carrots

Farmer's market
Busy day at the market

October 31, 2009

Photohunt: Bags


Rainier Summit Climb 2003
Rainier Summit Climb 2004 - sitting on their bags at a break

This week's Photohunt theme is bags. This was really difficult for me. I am not a shopper so I don't have a lot of pictures of shopping bags. I thought for a bit about doing a picture of my luggage bag but that seemed a little.. well let's say... boring. So I had to do a lot of hunting to finally come up with the idea of a backpack. It is a bag - a bag for your camping and climbing gear that you carry on your back.

My husband climbed Mt. Rainier in 2003 and he spent a lot of time carrying a backpack training for his climb. The training all paid off and he was able to summit.

The pack is very necessary on the climb - it can be a seat as pictured above but more importantly, it is used to carry first aid kit, food, water and clothing - all items that can help you survive.

Here are some more pictures from the climb. (Full disclosure - not all of these pictures are mine - part are taken by my husband since I didn't do the climb).

Rainier Summit Climb 2004
Packing his gear the night before the climb

Rainier Summit Climb 2004
All the bags (packs) lined up before starting the climb

Rainier Summit Climb 2004
Accessing their bags during a break

Rainier Summit Climb 2004
Ice axe helps to balance with the load of the bag

Rainier Summit Climb 2004
Happy at the summit

November 7, 2009

Photohunt: Veterans


Local Vietnam Veterans group - Edmonds 4th of July Parade

This week's photohunt is Veterans or Military. And a very appropriate choice to start November. November 11th is a day to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war. In the US, it is Veterans Day; in the UK, Canada, Australia and other countries in the Commonweath of Nation, it is Remembrance Day; in several other countries it is known as Armistice Day.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, war ceased on the Western Front during World War I. Since that time, many countries have taken time on November 11th to recognize the sacrifices of the soldiers during war.

In my hunt, I came across these pictures from the 4th of July parade in Edmonds.

American Legion - organization supporting Veterans


Edmonds 4th of July Parade

November 14, 2009

Photohunt: Music


Street Musicans in Menton

This week's photohunt theme is music. I was surprised that I didn't have more pictures applicable to this theme but I only found a few. I decided to go with this photo of two street musicians in Menton France. They set up late one afternoon at a small plaza on Rue Saint Michel. We were sitting at a small cafe relaxing after a day of siteseeing. You could tell the two men loved making and sharing music. It was lovely.

November 21, 2009

Photohunt: Birds


Snow Geese on Fir Island
Snow Geese on Fir Island in Skagit Valley

This week's Photohunt theme is Bird(s). I knew right off what photos I would be using.

Just north of Seattle is the fertile delta of the Skagit River. Every winter from November through March, the skies are filled with Snow Geese over wintering from the Arctic. We love to drive up to Conway and cruise the country roads of Fir Island. In the summer, many farmers grow corn. The stalks are cut and the stubble is left in the fields over winter. The geese love these fields.

I am always amazed to see the noisy flocks swirling and covering the dark fertile soil like snow. Over the years we have seen the flocks grow and grow. They used to be hard to see - always in the distance but recently they have become more brazen and we have found huge flocks along the main highways.

We drove up to Mt Vernon two weeks ago. On the way home, we drove though Fir Island. The birds have arrived for their winter retreat.

Here are some more pictures that I took in 2008. Here is the post of that day.

Snow Geese on Fir Island
In the field

Snow Geese
Flock on the move

Snow Geese
Grabbing a bite

Snow Geese attracting a crowd
Attracting a crowd

November 23, 2009

Rainy November

Break in the storms

It has been raining non-stop here in Seattle. We have had almost 7 inches this month compared a normal of around 3 inches. November is typically a very rainy month. The days shorten and overall rather depressing. The forecast was for a small break between the storms so we planned for a walk in Discovery Park. It was still raining by 11:00am so we changed our plans and went to Volunteer Park for a walk in the warm greenhouse. It was just enough time for the break to arrive and we did get a chance for a short walk and a few sunrays at Discovery Park before the next storm arrives.

November 28, 2009

Photohunt: Technology

Wild Horse Wind Farm
Wild Horse Wind Farm

This week's Photohunt theme is Technology. Yes, I know - at first glance - it is not obvious. But look closer, this is a wind farm. These are the wind turbines in Eastern Washington which use the state of the art technology to gather the wind and turn it in to electricity.

Wild Horse Wind Farm
Wild Horse Wind Farm is located on Whiskey Dick Mountain between Ellensburg and Vantage Washington. For many years, this was our favorite area to visit in early May to search for desert wildflowers of Eastern Washington. A couple of years ago, we noticed construction on top of Whiskey Dick and worried that the area would be destroyed. But it was not. Puget Sound Energy took great pains to restore the area and replant the native plants.

There are 127 turbines spread out over just under 10,000 acres. We visited last year and were amazed at the size of the turbines. They are 221 feet tall and the blades are 264 feet across in diameter. That is larger than the wingspan of a Boeing 747! They generate 229 megawatts of energy.

But wind is not the only natural resource harnessed with technology for a renewable energy in Washington State. We are also fortunate to have the Columbia River which through a series of dam produce electricity used throughout the west. The biggest dam - Grand Coulee.

Here are a few more pictures and a short video of the wind farm in action.

Wild Horse Wind Farm
School buses near the base of the turbines for size comparison

Columbia River - Vantage, Washington
The mighty Columbia River at Vantage - not far from the wind farm

Grand Coulee Dam
Grand Coulee Dam

December 5, 2009

Photohunt: Curved


Van Rhyn's Pass
Van Rhyn's Pass - South Africa

This week's Photohunt theme is curved. It did not take very long until I remembered this road. This is the road from Knersvlakte area of the Western Cape up to Van Rhyn's Pass - the gate way to the Bokkeveld Plateau and the town of Nieuwoudtville. We were 'chasing flowers' and headed to Papkuilsfontein Guest Farm. The Bokkeveld Plateau area is a botanical wonderland. The unique Cape Fynbos intersects with the more dry area of the Karoo and Knersvlakte. We saw fields of wildflowers and bulbs. The serenity of the area was amazing. It was one of our favorite stays in South Africa.

Van Rhyn's Pass
Top of Van Rhyn's Pass

Papkuilsfontein Farm
Fields of ursina daisies at Papkuilsfontein Farm

December 12, 2009

Photohunt: Undesirable



This week's Photohunt theme is Undesirable. I'm in Hawaii this week so my thoughts are of warm and tropical places. Here is a picture of Durians that we saw in the market in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. Many people love the fruit but to others the smell makes the fruit 'undesirable'. In fact in several places we found signs saying "No Durians"

Another item we saw in the markets that I found undesirable were sago worms. These are a delicacy but I decided to pass on them.

Have a great weekend.

Singgahsana Lodge
No Durians in the room

Sago worms
Sago Worms

December 19, 2009

Photohunt: Fast


Thomson's Gazelle
Thomson's Gazelle

This week's photohunt theme is fast. This was really hard for me because I take most of my photos when I have slowed down. A couple of ideas crossed my mind - a fast moving stream, women rollerskaters (did that already), surf on Oahu. But these did not feel right.

So I decided to go with pictures of some of the fastest animals on earth. First up - Thomson's Gazelle. These sleek animals can run up to 50mph. Although slower than their predators such as a cheetah, they can often out last their predators. You'll find them in large herds across the grasslands of Africa. We saw them in Etosha in Northern Namibia.

Wildebeest or Gnu


Next up is the Wildebeest. When you see these animals sauntering across the horizon or clumsily getting up from the field, you wonder how they survive. But they are also one of the faster animals clocking to speeds up to 50mph.

Black Faced Impala
Black Faced Impala

Last is the Black Faced Impala. These antelope are also fast runners at 45mph. These are so beautiful. I love the sleek color and beautiful horns. All these animals survival depend upon speed.

Have a great weekend.

December 26, 2009

Photohunt: Twelve


Villefranche Sur Mer

This week's Photohunt Theme is Twelve. At first, I thought this might be hard until I started thinking about items that typically come in twelves. Eggs, months, days of Christmas... hours. I decided to go with 12 hours as seen on the face of a clock. I had several interesting clocks but decided to go with the Église Saint-Michel clock tower in Villefranche Sur Mer. Here are a few more shots of Villefranche sur Mer.

Villefranche Sur Mer

Villefranche Sur Mer

Villefranche Sur Mer

January 1, 2010

Happy 2010


Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!

----- William Arthur Ward

January 2, 2010

Photohunt: Lick


Serre de la Madone

This week's Photohunt theme is Lick. I almost did not play this week. This is another theme that I did find inspiring. I knew it would have to be an animal licking but to find one that would be interesting and something that I had not blogged about. And I finally found one.

This is one of the cats in the French garden Serre de la Madone in Menton France. This garden was created by Lawrence Johnston who also created the renown English Garden, Hidcote Manor. It was designed as his winter garden.

The garden design is a series of outdoor room terraced up a hillside. The sheltered rooms allowed him to plant a wide variety of unique exotic plants and shelter them from the harsh climate. At the center point is a rather formal set of water ponds and Italian statuary. From the pond area, you can glimpse the wild hillsides surrounding the garden.

It had a wonderful serene ambiance. There is no set way to approach and tour the garden. Instead you are encouraged to explore the various ways. There are various paths taking you to different belvederes of the hillside, rooms and country house. The garden was maintained but left to abandon after Johnston's death in 1958. It was purchased by the city of Menton in 1999. It still has a wonderful and haunting feel of disrepair with crumbling stone work and seduction of the warm Riviera. Further information on the garden and location at Garden Visit website.

Here are some further photos of the ponds and terrace at the center of the garden.

Serre de la Madone

Serre de la Madone

Serre de la Madone

Serre de la Madone

January 9, 2010

Photohunt: Bulky


Assemblying the Canopy

When I first read this week's theme - I said "What?!!" Bulky - another theme that I just don't think of when I take photos. So off hunting I went. I came across several pictures from a family reunion - camping trip that we took in 2008 to Eastern California. Camping - it seems like everything you need for camping is so bulky when you try to pack it up in the car or assemble it.

I had this series of photos of the group putting together a canopy. This was not one of those 'Easy-up' brand but instead a $10 canopy that my niece got at 'Big Lots'. It seemed to take most of the group to put it together and it was soooo bulky to move. Once it was up it was fine and stood up to a Sierra thunderstorm. I do wonder if she has been able to use it again. It was one of those items that you use once and it never is as good the second time.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Assemblying the Canopy Now which part goes where?

Assemblying the CanopyLet's see.. I think the last part goes here?

Assemblying the Canopy Easy now..

Assemblying the Canopy Almost in place

January 23, 2010

Photohunt: Balanced

Young Orangutan at Semenggoh Borneo

This week's Photohunt theme is Balanced. Okay... I admit. I could not come up with something for jiggy last week. All I could think about was Getting Jiggy with it by Will Smith.

But no problems this week with balanced. I had a lot of ideas and decided to go with Orangutans that we saw in Borneo. They have a wonderful ability to balance while pausing on the branches and swinging between trees. It looks so effortless.


Orangutan at Semenggoh

Young Orangutan at Semenggoh


January 29, 2010

Photohunt: Spotted


Sex in the coulees
Ladybugs - Spring in the Coulees

This week's Photohunt theme is Spotted. I had a couple of ideas for this but nothing inspiring. So I turned to google and checked out what other images came up for spotted. Okay... yes I cheat. :) One of the photos was of ladybugs. That reminded me of these great lady bugs that we found in Eastern Washington in 2007.

We went for a long weekend at Cave B resort. They had a winter special and a great deal. Just north of the hotel is Ancient Lake in the Quincy Wildlife Recreation Area. The day was cold but sunny. We hiked to Ancient Lake at the base of basalt coulees. In the dry grass along the shore, we found these amorous ladybugs.

Here are a few more shots of the area taken in early April.

Ancient Lakes - Quincy

Ancient Lakes - Quincy
The lady bugs were on the tall grass in the foreground

Ancient Lakes - Quincy

Ancient Lakes - Quincy

Ancient Lakes - Quincy

January 30, 2010

Welcome Elizabeth!

CatWe want to wish Congratulations to Trekcapri. She adopted a new 2 year old tabby cat named Elizabeth. They are both in for a treat! Getting to know and love each other.

We love sharing our lives with our cat - 14 year old Cassie. We got her as a small kitten. Her mother was a feral farm kitty. She is such a prima donna. We are totally her slaves.

We have a few tips. Cassie recommends Temptation treats. She also highly recommends hot sock tubes of catnip. Definitely arrange a warm sunny spot preferably with territory view. Set a few glasses of water around the house. Also leave lots of sparkly balls around to play with along with paper bags and boxes to hide in. Feathery toys and string are good. Laser beams drive me wild. I also like a variety of food - canned warmed with some hot water, dry so I can eat at my leisure, and if you really want to reward me - tuna or shrimp.

Here is one of my favorite internet cats - Maru - showing Elizabeth what to do with a large box.

February 6, 2010

Photohunt: Average


Average house - unaverage garden

This week's Photohunt theme is average. This was extremely difficult for me. This week is the Seattle Flower and Garden Show and the weather has been very spring-like here in the Pacific Northwest of the US. So I have gardening on the mind.

Here is a picture of our average suburban house - with an un-suburban un-average garden. Many of our neighbors have lawn and evergreen shrubs. We've made our average house different by digging out the lawn and putting in lots of plants instead. Wonderful in June when this picture was taken - but a devil to weed.

Hope you are having a good weekend.

February 13, 2010

Photohunt: Broken

Christmas 001
Chocolate Breaking Fork

This week's Photohunt theme is broken. Tnchick is really challenging us with this year's themes. Broken seems a little strange since this is Valentine's Day weekend. I always think of chocolate on Valentine's Day so ... my picture is of a chocolate breaking fork which is used to break large blocks of chocolate before melting. I borrowed this from a friend that makes Chocolate truffles. I broke up some unsweetened chocolate for a Chocolate espresso cake linked below. It is a great utensil if you have purchased large blocks of chocolate to cook with.

Here are some more pictures of broken chocolate and the resulting sweets. I hope you and your sweetheart have a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Christmas 009
Chocolate Espresso Cake made from chocolate broken with the fork

Chocolate Polenta Tart
Theo's Chocolate broken for Chocolate Polenta Tart

Chocolate Polenta Tart
Chocolate Polenta Tart

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
Lindt 70% bittersweet chocolate broken for Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

February 20, 2010

Photohunt: Cuddly



This week's Photohunt theme is Cuddly. Nothing more cuddly than a baby especially one with their cuddly toy.

Have a great weekend.

February 27, 2010

Photohunt: Daily



This Photohunt theme is daily. This theme had a lot of potential but I ran out of time. I've been tired recently so I picked up some vitamins. I just need to take One Daily. They have helped a bit.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

March 1, 2010

March Madness - Blogging everyday for a month

March Madness Bloggers

I love our Slow Travel blogger community. We are a group of members of Slow Travel that have blogs. Many of the blogs are provided by Slow Travel and others have their own. But all of us love to write about our travels - planning, traveling, memories. Many of us also blog on weekly basis. But we need a push and support to do it daily.

In February 2008, several of us made a special effort - okay a mad effort - to blog every day. It was great fun and a lot of work. I really enjoy looking back at what I thought to blog about everyday - February 2008. I have to admit -some of my favorite posts were from this month. I took a pass in 2009 but I'm back in 2010.

This year we have decided to try to blog everyday in March 2010. It will be harder. There are more days - but I'm up for the challenge. I hope you drop by to see what I come up with daily. And also visit my partners in blogging :

March 10, 2010

Spring at the Quad

Spring at UW Quad

I had heard on another forum that I participate on that the cherries were in bloom on the University of Washington campus. I was pretty amazed since they did not bloom until almost mid-April last year. It was a late spring last year and this year is an early spring - but six weeks!

I took a trip this weekend to the campus and they were in bloom. It was a wonderful sunny day and everyone was enjoying Spring. Everywhere I turned, I heard the snap of a camera or saw another person taking a photography. I went with the flow.

The trees were beautiful. The day was mild. It was an enjoyable time. I especially liked the beautiful Magnolias. Today... there are a few flurries of snow and the temperatures have dropped back down to the low 40's.

Spring at UW Quad

Spring at UW Quad

Spring at UW Quad

Spring at UW Quad

March 13, 2010

Photohunt: Spiral

Scala del Bovolo - Venice
Scala Contarini del Bovolo - Venice

I knew right off what I wanted to post for spiral. This is an old picture that I took on our trip to Venice in 2002. It is the famous spiral staircase in Venice - Scala Contarini del Bovolo. Translated it is roughly the sprial staircase of Conatrini. It was designed in 1499.

We rented an apartment that was right on the small courtyard and overlooked the staircase. This was the view everyday from our windows. It was really spectacular on evening when there was a thunderstorm and lightening was striking the metal dome. We met our friends in Venice and spent the week exploring - walking, getting lost and admiring the wonderful and mysterious city.

If you are looking for the staircase, you can find it down a small alley off Campo Manin.

Scala del Bovolo - Venice
The small sign pointing out the small alley to the small square where you can find the staircase.

Sketch by my good friend

March 14, 2010

Queen Califia Magical Garden

Queen Califa Magical Circle

Yesterday I had a chance to go to Niki de Saint Phalle wonderful and magical sculpture garden in Escondido - Queen Califia Magical Circle. I have heard of her other sculpture garden in Italy and saw some of her work in the Museum of Modern Art in Nice. It is about 1 hour north of San Diego in Kit Carson Park.

From the parking lot, you walk through California scented herbs and see the garden in the distance. You enter through a maze with wonderful textured mosaics. The color, the size and the sculptures are amazing. I highly recommend visiting it. It might be hot in the summer but on a breezy spring day with the sunlight dancing around from fluffy cloud - it is wonderful.

Queen Califa Magical Circle

Queen Califa Magical Circle

Queen Califa Magical Circle

Queen Califa Magical Circle

March 15, 2010

Goodbye San Diego


What a wonderful weekend. Beautiful city but best of all - time spent with the best of people. The members on Slow Travel are the most friendly and generous. I had a great time and the gathering was perfect.

March 16, 2010

Nice People - Slow Travelers

Slow Travel Gathering
Wine Glasses and Good Friends
      "If you travel, you have to be a really nice person.
      You have to be a genial person,
      and you have to go with the flow"

             Paul Theroux - PRI interview

I feel this quote is a perfect description of the wonderful people you meet on Slow Travel. It is what makes flying across the country or the world to meet with them such a pleasure.

March 20, 2010

Photohunt: Three


Salmon Wave

This week's Photohunt theme is three. Three is one of those magical numbers when composing a photograph. Composition comes natural to my husband. He has artistic genes. But I struggle.

Besides the rule of thirds, he has taught me to try to look for three items when you compose a picture. It really does work but it doesn't make it any easier for me to see it.

I visited the Ballard Locks for a previous Photohunt and decided to practice my composition using the idea of three. There is a wonderful sculpture on the Magnolia side of the locks called "Salmon Wave". The artist is Paul Sorey. These metallic waves shapes are to represent various sea motifs - sea shells, octopus, whale fins or even sea monsters. They are also lit at night which sounds really cool but I've never seen it at night.

Here are a few more photos

Salmon Wave
Artwork statement

Salmon Wave

Salmon Wave

Salmon Wave

March 26, 2010

Spring Backyard Bird

Backyard Birds
Pileated Woodpeckers

We encourage the birds to visit our backyard. It helps that our backyard borders onto a wetland area. We have lots of large trees including several old snags (dead trees). These snags attract lots of different birds; flocks of crows, stately hawks but best of all a wide variety of woodpeckers.

Right now the flickers are courting. Occasionally we will hear them ratt-tat-tat on the roof as the male is trying to attract a mate. But best of all are the large pileated woodpeckers. They have a brilliant red top and love to come to the snags and inch up the trunk looking for grubs in the bark. They have a wonderful tropical call. Whenever we hear it, we run to get the binoculars to watch them.

The robins have also returned. I can hear them every morning at daybreak. Such a peaceful lovely sound.

Backyard Birds
Trio of robins searching for worms


March 27, 2010

Photohunt: Fresh


Strawberries in Chianti

This week's Photohunt theme is Fresh. There are so many options for this theme but strawberries came to mind right away. I love this time of year when we get the large fresh strawberries from California.

I took this photo when I made Strawberries in Chianti with Black Pepper Ricotta Cream for the Sunday Slow Bakers. I think it is time to make the recipe again.

Have a great weekend.

March 29, 2010

March Weather

Sheep in Western Australia

It has been a wild weather day. I woke several times last night with the wind and rain lashing against my window. There is something comforting being inside during a storm but yet alarming at the same time. It continued to be dark and wet this morning when we awoke so we decided to go to an early showing of the movie "Alice in Wonderland". It was quite good. We both love Tim Burton so it was perfect for a dark and stormy day.

We left the theater and the rain had stopped. The streets glistened and were strewn with cherry blossoms and pink petals of magnolias. We arrived home thinking we would have the afternoon to garden. No not a chance. The wind started to blow and soon the ground turn white with hail. What the cuss?

And now the sun it out but you can see the clouds in the distance. It won't be long. The rain will return. March may have come in like a lamb but it is going out like one of the old cranky sheep pictured above.

March 31, 2010

Finish line


I made it! A whole month blogging every day. That was the goal of March Madness. I hope to keep up blogging regularly. Stay tune.

And thank you for you visiting my blog and your support.

April 3, 2010

Photohunt: Sweet

Sicilian Pistachio Bars

This week's Photohunt theme is Sweet. Perfect for upcoming Easter holiday with all the candy. I'm a little lazy this week and didn't come up with much new. I'm bringing back an older picture again this week from the Sunday Slow Bakers. This time it is the Sicilian Pistachio Bars. These are great bar cookie and they would be perfect for spring. The ingredients included pistachios, almond and lemon.

April 10, 2010

Photohunt: Vertical

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

This week's Photohunt theme is vertical. I went out for a walk in a local park this week and it came to me what I would post - trees! I could go with tall vertical Redwoods but I decided to do something a little bit different. Still tall and very vertical - Tingle Eucalyptus - Eucalyptus jacksonii - from SW Australia.

What is really cool about this area is there is a tree top walk which lets you get up among the tree tops! You can walk along the vertical tops of the trees. There are also options to climb vertically up the tall trees but we didn't have nerve to try that.

Here are some shots of the tree top walk at Valley of the Giants outside of Denmark in South Australia.

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

Addendum: A couple of people wondered about the walk. Yes, we did actually do it. It was a little scary at first but I got used to it. It didn't sway much so that was good. The metal felt very secure. Here are two pictures of us on the walkway.

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

April 17, 2010

Photohunt: Covered

Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei

This week's photohunt theme is covered. Okay, I admit. I had a lot of difficulty with this theme. I had a couple of ideas and finally decided to go with the idea of covered with sand - the sand dunes of the Namib desert in Namibia.

Visiting these dunes were one of the most amazing experiences. The Namib desert covers over 30,000 square miles along the coast of Namibia. Some of it is dry dusty gray. Some of it is rocky. And some of it is brilliant red-orange.

The red sand dunes are in an area called Sossusvlei. Getting there is an adventure. It was a 6 hour drive from Swakopmund along the coast. We stayed at a desert resort about 45 minutes from the gates. The best time to visit the dunes is at the early morning when the sun just reaches the dunes. We got up and made it to the gates when they opened at 7pm and rushed towards the most famous dune - Dune 45 which is 45km from the gate. We arrived about 8am and started our climb. I was amazed at how cold and soft the sand was early in the morning. We climbed to the top for the vista above - everywhere we looked - it was covered with red sand.

Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei
Early morning sun shadowing the dune

Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei
Climbing the dune

Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei
Valley vista

Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei
Our footprints down the side of the dune

Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei
Farther up the Valley

Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei
Acacia Tree and Dune

Related post - Our drive through the Namib desert (Photohunt: Road)

April 24, 2010

Photohunt: Addiction


This week's Photohunt theme is addiction. I have a serious addiction to two things; Internet and sweet sugary drinks. Do you call it soda or pop? I call it soda. I grew up in a house where there was always a bottle of soda in the refrigerator. Remember those large 32 oz glass bottles? We used to always have one in the refrigerator and it was so refreshing on the hot summer days. I went away to college and they were cheap drinks so I started drinking even more. But it got really bad when I went to work for a software company which stocked the refrigerators at work with free soda. I was drinking 3-4 a day or more. I used to stack the cans up in my office.

I did this for about 10 years and gained over 20 pounds. In 2000, I made a strong effort and stopped drinking them. It was amazing how I started to lose weight. It was a good motivation to keep me away. I started exercising in and in a couple of years I had lost almost 35 pounds. I've stopped exercising so I've put some of the weight back on but not all. And I've been able to control my urges and not drink soda very often. I did break down recently as you can see from the photo above. But I got really small cans, I have only drank one a day and I don't intend to buy another 6 pack for a while.

The internet... well that is another story. What's your addiction?

May 1, 2010

Photohunt: Black


Photohunt black

This week's Photohunt theme is black. It was kinda a challenge. The photo above was taken on a late evening hike to Burroughs Mountain at Mount Rainier. Our tradition is to hike up late in the afternoon on our anniversary and watch the sun set. We hike back as the day 'fades to black'. This shot was taken shortly after we were leaving of the moon rising over Little Tahoma on the eastern slope of Mt. Rainier.

Digging around I found a few photos in the black of the night with the moon. The first one is of the eclipse of the moon in February 2008. The following two are of a winter bonfire at Richmond Beach.

Photohunt black
February 2008 Eclipse of the Moon

Photohunt black
Fire and moon glow on Richmond Beach statue

Photohunt black
December bonfire lightens the winter blackness

May 3, 2010

Wintery Monday

Lookin' out my front door

Where has Spring gone? It has turned cold. It is only 47 degrees and dropping. The normal for this time of the year around 60 degrees. We were planning on going over to Eastern Washington again today to see the desert wildflowers but there was a winter storm watch for the passes. A foot of snow fell over night and looking at the DOT cams - it looked nasty.

We're hunkering down. I think we'll stream "Sherlock Holmes" from Netflix tonight. And turn up the heater!

May 8, 2010

Photohunt: Mother


Mother's Day. It has been 9 years since my mother died. April 2001. She was almost 85. I came late in her life and a second marriage. I can not say it was 'strange' growing up with a Mother who was in her 50's. That was all I knew. We had wonderful times in the late '60s - going out to dinner, driving around the Haight in San Francisco, going to junk stores looking for antiques, teaching me to sew.

I married and left. We grew apart. The last years were tough as she slipped into dementia from a stroke. The picture above was from one of the few times she visited me in Seattle in 1983.

Here's a link to a previous post I wrote about my mother and pictures. I also posted a picture of her when I wrote about dragonfruit.

Take time this weekend to celebrate your mother.

May 15, 2010

Photohunt: Half


Leonard's Malasadas
Half Dozen of Leonard's Malasadas

I definitely had to hunt around to come up with something I wanted to use for half. This is a half dozen Malasadas. Malasadas are yeast donuts that are either rolled in sugar or filled with a custard. These are from the Leonard's truck on Oahu Hawaii. They are a Portuguese tradition and very popular on the Hawaiian Islands. The minimum amount sold is a half-dozen. They are very rich but we had no problems eating the half-dozen!

Leonard's Malasada Truck

Breakfast at the beach

May 21, 2010

Photohunt: Monthly


Beach Walk

This week's Photohunt theme is Monthly. This was very hard for me. The items that came to mind I really did not want to blog about (bills or monthly female cycles). But then I got got an idea.

I have been looking up the monthly tide tables for my area. Once or twice a year there will be a period of what we call minus tides. Minus tides are tides below the mean sea level or extremely low tides. At a minus tide, more of the shore is exposed and it can be a great time for a beach walk and exploring tide pools. Here in the Puget Sound I look for a -2 or even better -3 low tides. I like this site because you can quickly see which days will have minus tides.

Last weekend we had several minus tides days with tides around -2.5. I took full advantage of the wonderful weather and went for a walk at Richmond Beach. I usually go south. There was a sailing regatta and the boats floated on the horizon. It can be slippery walking over eel grass and splashing through the puddles but I love the fresh breeze and sea air.

Fortunately, looking at the monthly tide tables for June and July, there are several more minus tides coming up. I'm hoping the weather will be great again.

Minus tide - South of Richmond Beach

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Small crab on the eel grass

Always present sea gulls.

May 29, 2010

Photohunt: Memorial


Garden Step Mosaic

This week's Photohunt theme is Memorial. Okay, I have to admit - I was not inspired to play this weekend. But I had a last minute inspiration.

I had wanted to do a mosaic garden stepping stone for a while. I am not very creative so I decided to purchase a kit. I found a kit that was a large square step which is what I wanted instead of the round type. I liked this kit because it came with stamps to do lettering and had several ideas on the box.

One idea was to do a pet memorial. I mentioned it to my hubby and he really liked the idea of creating memorial plaque for Mina who died in 2007. We decided to do it together as a project. This had its pros and cons. G is very artistic and I knew he would come up with a great design. But it also meant we would have to work together on the project which has not always worked out. We usually disagree with how to do something and end up in an argument.

But one Monday was stormy and rainy. Perfect day to stay at home so we decided to work on the project. We talked it out and it ended up being a great way to spend the day. The box provided glass marbles and a bunch of chips of stained glass. We slowly took the pieces and put them together to make a rather abstract cat. I think we came up with a great design.

Garden Step Mosaic
Laying out the design on a piece of cardboard


June 5, 2010

Photohunt: Sparkle


Queen Califia Magical Circle

This week's Photohunt theme is sparkle. I visited Niki de Saint Phalle's sculpture garden - Queen Califia Magic Circle - while I was in San Diego in March. It was a cool Spring day. The sun was passing in and out of the clouds. It alternated between gray cloud shadows and brilliant white sun. And when the sun came out, the sculptures sparkled.

The head pictured above is part of the snake wall and the gateway that leads you into the magical world. In the center is Queen Califia on her eagle throne. She sparkles in gold. You can just see the eagle head mirrored and peaking at the bottom. Surrounding her are many totems representing both Mexican and Native American imagery also covered in a wide range of colored mirrored tiles.

It was magical, dream like and a joy. I felt like a kid as I walked around exploring the textures and discovered many different views and visions. Here are some more pictures of the sculptures.

Queen Califia Magical Circle
Queen Califia on her eagle throne

Queen Califia Magical Circle

Queen Califia Magical Circle
Snake wall

Queen Califia Magical Circle

Queen Califia Magical Circle
Step Totem

Related Post: Queen Califia Magical Garden

June 12, 2010

Photohunt: Bubbles


Monterey Bay Aquarium

This week's Photohunt theme is Bubbles. It was a hunt to find something. I finally came across the picture above which was taken at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is the Kelp Forest tank during one of the feedings. The diver will hand feed the fish twice a day. We also love the Jellies exhibit seen below. Hey... they kinda look like bubbles. :)

Have a great weekend.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Sea anemones

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

June 19, 2010

Photohunt: Six

zucchini olive oil cake

This week's photohunt is six. Hmmm... I used up one of my posts with 6 items for the Half photohunt a couple of weeks ago. I knew I had another post with a half dozen items but I wanted to look around first. I looked for any hiking trail signs that might have 6 miles as a marker. I thought about posting a picture of my niece when she was 6. Or maybe a clock showing 6 o'clock. But no luck.

So back to a picture of a half dozen.... eggs. I took this picture back when a group of us from Slow Travel were cooking recipes from Dolce Italiano. The recipe was for a Zucchini Olive Oil cake. It was delicious. Soon it will be time to bake the cake again.

Have a great weekend everyone.

zucchini olive oil cake

June 26, 2010

Photohunt: Purple

Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens'
Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens'

This week's photohunt theme is purple. I knew right off that I would post some flower pictures. The hard part was deciding which ones. I love the mix of colors on Cerinthe - from green to the dark purple bell. The bees love these. They will get in the small bell at the bottom and buzz. It is such as great sound in the garden.

Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'
Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'

What's Bloomin' in June
Lavandula stoechas

Geranium splish-splash
Geranium 'Splish-Splash'

What's Bloomin' in June
Allium gigantium

Related post: Photohunt: Purple April 2009

July 3, 2010

Photohunt: Open

Tall Ships
Tall Ship Hawaiian Chieftain open for tours

This week's Photohunt theme is "Open". We have two local tall ships here in Washington state. You've probably seen them both. The Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain have starred in several movies from Star Trek to Pirates of the Caribbean. They recently made a stop in Edmonds and they were open for touring.

The weather was overcast and rainy but it was fun to climb aboard and walk the deck. I was surprised at how small the ship was. But it was definitely tall. I loved the rigging and the masts. It was the stuff of fantasy daydreams - sailing the high seas with pirates.

Have a great weekend. BTW, they are currently in Seattle for the July 4th celebration.

Tall Ships

Tall Ships

Tall Ships

Tall Ships

Tall Ships

July 10, 2010

Photohunt: Free

Darlingtonia Californica

This week's Photohunt theme is free. You could interpret this week's theme as a photo that shows 'Free'. Or use it as a free week to post anything you want. I've chosen to do a free - post anything you want - interpretation.

One of our hobbies is searching for wildflowers. Another hobby of my husband is carnivorous plants. We blend the two together and occasionally search for carnivorous plants in the wild. We have gone to Borneo to find Nepenthes in the wild and we found cephalotus in Australia. But I realized I have not posted about some of the carnivorous plants that can be found here in Western United States.

The most unusual local carnivorous plant is Darlingtonia californica - or California Cobra Lily. It grows in a small region from around Florence Oregon down to Mt. Shasta region in California. There is an excellent wayside just outside of Florence Oregon where you can walk on a boardwalk above the swamp and view these strange but wonderful plants. They are carnivorous and get their nutrition (nitrogen) from the insects that happen to fall into their pitcher and can not escape. The windows you see on their hood trick the insects into thinking there are openings where there are none. Amazing adaptation.

Darlingtonia californica

Darlingtonia Californica

Darlingtonia Californica

Darlingtonia californica

July 17, 2010

Photohunt: Triangle

Space Needle
Seattle Space Needle

This week's photohunt theme is triangle. I did not have an idea of what I was going to use this week but when I went hunting, I realized that triangles showed up prominently in Seattle. So here is a triangle tour of some of the well known (and less well known) sites of Seattle, Washington. Starting with the iconic symbol of Seattle - The Space Needle. Notice how the leg bases form a triangle?

Pacific Science Center

Near by are the arches of the Pacific Science Center. These were also build as part of the Seattle World's Fair of 1962 and were designed by Minoru Yamaskai. Triangles make up the design at the top of the arches.

Smith Tower

For many years, the Smith Tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River and the tallest building in Seattle. Later it was surpassed by the SeaFirst building - the lower black box building to the left and later again by the Columbia Tower - black building to the left. Notice the triangular top.

W Hotel

The triangular top continues to be a theme in downtown Seattle. This is the top of the "W" Hotel. In the foreground is the Henry Moore Sculpture "Vertebrae". To the left is out next site ...

Public Library

The Seattle Public Library designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhass. Back to back triangles form diamonds and encompass the exterior walls. Here is another shot from the interior.

Public Library

Hammering Man

You can often see triangles in our public art. Notice the legs of the Hammering Man sculpture outside the Seattle Art Museum. The stone work on the SAM building also has several triangles. There are also interesting triangular sculptures in the Olympic Sculpture Garden.

Olympic Sculpture Garden

And to complete our tour, here are triangles in a few lesser known sights in Seattle. Thanks for coming along on my tour. Have a great weekend everyone.

Aurora Bridge
Triangles hold up the Aurora Bridge

Detail Gas Works Park
Valves create an interesting triangle at Gas Works Park

Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Triangular steeple on Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Ballard Centential Bell Tower
Triangular top on the Ballard Centennial Bell Tower

July 24, 2010

Photohunt: Hanging


Flying Foxes, Sydney Botanical Garden

This week's Photohunt theme is hanging. Any guesses at what is hanging in the picture above? They are Flying Foxes, the largest fruit bat in Australia. These were hanging in a group of trees at the Sydney Botanical Garden. This group of over 2200 bats has 'camped' in the choice trees in the garden.

This protected species of fruit bat, the Grey-headed Flying-Fox, has the largest body of the of all bats During the day, they sleep hanging upside down. In the evening and night, they fly around feasting on nectar and fruit. They do create quite a mess, both in destroying the trees and their guano and urine below the trees where they 'hang out' during the day. The officials would like to get them to move but have been unable to come up with a way that is successful and will not hurt the animals.

We found them fascinating. There were little tussles going on for space while they were sleeping. Occasionally one would stretch their wings or take off and fly. We watched them for as long as we could stand the stench.

Here is a good article on the Flying Foxes of the Sydney Botanical Garden.

Flying Foxes, Sydney Botanical Garden
A group hanging around sleeping - noticed how they have destroyed the tree

Flying Foxes, Sydney Botanical Garden
Here you can see the head and body

Flying Foxes, Sydney Botanical Garden
Quite a large wingspan

July 31, 2010

Photohunt: Public


Mercado Central - Santiago
Mercado Central - Santiago Chile

This week's Photohunt theme is public. I decided to go to a country that I haven't posted much about - Chile. We visited the long thin country in 2003. We did a lot of flying. We started in Santiago, then flew to the far north near Peru, then to the Lake district and finally ended with a 4 day trek in Patagonia. Loved it. It is a great place to visit.

The picture above is from the Mercado Central. It is the public market in Santiago. It is a large open building with the sellers ringing the outside. The inside is a huge group of restaurants specializing in seafood. All of the restaurants are out in the open - it is like eating in public. Beautiful and tasty.

Here are a few more pictures of some public places.

Metro - Santiago
Public transportation - Metro - in Santiago. We were there just before Lord of the Rings (El Senor de los Anillos) was released

Avenida Providencia - Santiago
Public boulevard - Avenida Providencia

Ruta 5 near Villarrica
Public highway - waiting to pay the toll on Ruta 5 - Pan American Highway

Mercado Fluvial de Valdivia
Public Market in Valdivia

August 14, 2010

Photohunt: Orange


This week's photohunt theme is Orange. It is almost time for the gorgeous orange sunsets here in Washington state. They happen usually in August to September. This is a series of sunset shots that I took one night in September 2008.

Have a great weekend.





August 21, 2010

Photohunt: Numerical


A top Mt Whitney

This week's Photohunt theme is numerical. This was definitely a difficult theme for me. I don't take a lot of pictures of items with numbers so it took a while for me to think of the picture above. We hiked to the top of Mt. Whitney in 2004. Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain on the lower 48 US states at 14,496 feet . It took us just over 15 hours to hike the 22 miles RT with an elevation gain of just over 6,000ft. We had trained for over 6 months and we made it! It was an accomplishment of a lifetime.

Here are a few more pictures:

Trail Camp
Trail Camp at 12,000 ft

The Cables on Mt. Whitney Trail
Just after Trail Camp are the cables

Trail Crest
At Trail Crest, 13,600 Ft, the trail joins the John Muir Trail.

View from Mt. Whitney trail
Nothing but granite and rock before the summit

At the Summit
Happy hikers at the summit

August 28, 2010

Photohunt: Framed



This week's photohunt theme is Framed. I knew right off what I was going to use for this theme. It would have been difficult if I had not seen this piece of art.

So what is it? I don't remember the artist but it was an installation at Fondation Maeght museum in St Paul de Vence France. I visited the museum as a class trip while I was studying at the Institut de Francais in Villefranche sur Mer. I loved the museum especially the outside garden area where there were many sculptures by Miro and Giocometti. This interesting piece was set up in one of the galleries along with several modern art paintings and made up of made up of different sized frames. I wish I could remember the artist but I don't. We couldn't resist using it to take our pictures which were automatically 'framed'.

Everyone gathering around to get their picture taken in a frame

Group shot


Here's mine

Here is a slideshow of the lovely town of St Paul de Vence

September 4, 2010

Photohunt: Hot

Museum of Glass - Tacoma
Glass artist heating glass to over 2000 degrees F at Tacoma Glass Museum

This week's Photohunt theme is hot. I thought first about doing the obvious - weather. We are having a couple of late summer hot days. Eighty degrees! But I thought I would share another Pacific Northwest place that is 'hot' - The Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Their tag line is "Hot glass. Cool art."

I love this museum. It is so creative and imaginative. I usually start by walking across the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. My favorite area is the Seaform Pavilion although the Crystal Towers are also stunning.

The bridge leads to the top of the museum and the volcano shaped stainless steel cone that is the top of the hot shop . Stairs curve around the cone and down to the outdoor glass exhibits. Inside the Hot Shop Amphitheater, glass artists work with the furnaces that burn to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The Glory Holes heat the glass to over 2,000 degree F which makes the glass malleable and allows the artist to blow or shape the pieces. The Amphitheater is open during museum hours to allow visitors to watch the artists.

I don't know what attracts me the most - the danger of working with the hot glass or the beauty of the creations.

Museum of Glass - Tacoma
Shaping the glass

Museum of Glass - Tacoma
Elevator platform at top of the stairs

Museum of Glass - Tacoma
Hot Shop Cone

Museum of Glass - Tacoma
I love the metal work

Museum of Glass - Tacoma
Martin Blank's Fluent Steps

Museum of Glass - Tacoma
Crystal Towers - Chihuly Bridge of Glass

Museum of Glass - Tacoma
Seaforms - Chihuly Bridge of Glass

September 11, 2010

Photohunt: Anniversary


Anniversary at Burroughs
Anniversary Hike at Burroughs Mountain

This week's Photohunt theme is Anniversary. This was very easy for me for two reasons. First, September 12th is my blog's Anniversary. I started blogging on September 12, 2003! I haven't posted consistently but Photohunting has helped. I've done just over 700 posts in seven years. Here's when I celebrated my 5th Blogiversary in 2008.

The second reason is our wedding Anniversary is in September. We have been married 35 years. Wow! It feels just like yesterday. We usually go on a hike on our Anniversary to Mt. Rainier. We haven't made it up there yet because the weather has been cold and rainy. There is a possibility that we may not make it to Sunrise or Burroughs Mt this year. The road to Sunrise will be closing in the evenings in a week and for the season early in October. If not, we will still go up to either Naches or Paradise.

We started the tradition of hiking to celebrate our Anniversary in 2003. We haven't made it every year. We hiked to Burroughs in 2008 and around Naches Peak in 2009. But I thought for Photohunt that I would post pictures from the first year that we did the celebratory anniversary hike - 2003.

We like to start our hike late in the afternoon. We take along our dinner to eat while the sun is setting and hike back in the dark. But the best time is watching the sun go down.

Have a great weekend.

Anniversary at Burroughs
Setting up dinner - shrimp and Greek salad

Anniversary at Burroughs
This year we also carried up a bottle of Champagne

Anniversary at Burroughs
Basking in the glow of the setting sun

Anniversary at Burroughs
Golden end to the day

September 18, 2010

Photohunt: School

Institut de Francais

This week's Photohunt theme is school. The last time I was in school was in 2007. I attended Institut de Francais in Villefranche sur Mer. This is a French immersion school where I spent 4 weeks learning a bit of French. It was excellent school and I learned a tremendous amount in the 4 weeks. I have to admit the school was challenging but it was just what I needed. But more important - it was fun.

The school is beautiful and a lovely location on the French Riviera in the small village of Villefranche sur Mer just outside of Nice. September is a great time to attend - warm enough to enjoy but not too hot.

Institut de Francais
Studying in the garden

Institut de Francais
View over the harbor from the school

Institut de Francais
In the classroom - my teacher is in black.

Institut de Francais
Graduation day in the main salon

October 2, 2010

Photohunt: Letters


Menton Casino

This week's photohunt theme is Letters. There are a couple of different ways to go with this but decided to use this set of photos of the neon sign for the Casino in Menton France. We loved how the bird lined up on the top of each letter. It is also fun to see the contrasting 'Discotheque' just below. I took a couple of other shots at the same time from the beach behind the casino. One close up of a letter and another shot of me - color coordinated with the letters. :)

Have a great weekend everyone.

Menton Casino

Menton Casino

October 9, 2010

Photohunt: Stripes


Road to Windy Ridge - Mt St Helens
Road Stripes along the way to Mt. St Helens

This week's Photohunt theme is stripes. Another challenging theme. I was thinking about it today and came up with some pretty boring ideas. I was out driving and then the idea came to me... road stripes!

We visited Mt. St. Helens in July. It was a very hot afternoon when we arrived and the parking lot at Windy Ridge was jammed. So we decided to leave and return early the next morning. Plus the light would be better on the mountain.

We got up early - 7am - and headed up. We made it to the parking lot by 8am on Monday. It was almost empty! And a gorgeous day. We decided to walk up the stairs to the overlook. The morning was cool and it was wonderful. We hiked along the ridge for about an hour before we decided to head back to the camp. It was still deserted. Along the way back we stopped to take a picture of some wildflowers and I was able to capture this picture of the road stripes along the deserted road.

Have a great weekend.

Road to Windy Ridge - Mt St Helens
Capturing the wildflowers

Wildflowers at Mt St Helens

Windy Ridge at Mt St Helens
Stripes in the empty parking lot at Windy Ridge - Mt St Helens National Monument

Windy Ridge at Mt St Helens
Even the steps seem like stripes up the hill

Mt St Helens
Vista from the trail (click here to see enlarged photo)

October 16, 2010

Photohunt: Miniature

Bluff Knoll Hike
The parking lot looks miniature from the top of Bluff Knoll

This week's Photohunt theme is Miniature. This week's theme was hard - extremely hard for me. No kids in the house so I couldn't use a miniature toy theme. I looked around for some photos Madurodam - a miniature Dutch city theme park in Den Haag (The Hague) in Holland but I couldn't find them.

I decided to do a picture from the top of Bluff Knoll in Western Australia. I remember how small the parking lot looked from the top. We hiked to the top in October 2006. It is one of the highest peaks in Western Australia and a great hike. Here are scenes from our hike.

Have a great weekend.

Bluff Knoll Hike
Bluff Knoll from the start of the hike in the parking lot

Bluff Knoll Hike
Notice how large the Western Australia Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea preissii) are at the start

Bluff Knoll Hike
Lots of stairs at the start of the hike

Bluff Knoll Hike
Plants are getting smaller as we get higher

Bluff Knoll Hike
And the parking lot is shrinking

Bluff Knoll Hike
Look how small the grass trees are now - they are almost miniature! ;)

October 23, 2010

Photohunt: Orange


Full Moon Maple

This week's Photohunt theme is Orange. Orange is a popular theme. Previously I posted about orange flowers I've found in California and South Africa and just last month about the orange sunsets. Today - I decided to post a picture of the beautiful orange and red Japanese maple that is just off our deck. The colors are gorgeous.

And for your amusement - here are some weird orange carrots that we have harvested from our garden.

Have a great weekend.

Weird Carrots

Weird Carrots

Weird Carrots

October 30, 2010

Photohunt: Dark


Jewel Cave - Margaret River Australia
Jewel Cave - Margaret River area - Southwest Australia

This week's theme is Dark. Hmmm... lots of different ways to interpret this week's theme. One of the darkest places that I've been is a cave. Here are some shots from Jewel Cave. This is the largest of the limestone caves in the Margaret River area of Southwestern Australia. We visited it in 2006. It was dark, cold and damp but also beautiful. It has some of the largest straw stalacities. It wasn't fully explored until 1958. Unfortunately, it is currently closed for redevelopment.

Here are some more shots of the cave along with a couple of other shots taken in the dark during our stay in the Margaret River area.

Jewel Cave - Margaret River Australia

Jewel Cave - Margaret River Australia

Jewel Cave - Margaret River Australia
Weird portrait taken with the flash in the darkness

Hilltop Studios - Margaret River
Our cabin at Hilltop Studios

Sunset at Margaret River Australia
Sunset in the Indian Ocean

November 6, 2010

Photohunt: Alive

Lifeguard at Makena (Big) Beach

This week's Photohunt theme is Alive. I'm going to repeat a photo I recently posted of the Lifeguard Station at Makena Beach on Maui where I'm currently visiting. I thought it was so striking. You walk a short distance along a tree covered path before coming onto the beach - this was one of the first things I saw on the beach. Their job is to make certain everyone stays alive at the beach.

I hopenapule maika'i - Have a nice weekend.

November 13, 2010

Photohunt: Itchy

Photohunt Itchy

This week's Photohunt theme is Itchy. I really wasn't going to post anything but changed my mind. I woke up this morning with very itchy ankles. We went to 'Iao Needle before leaving Maui. It is close to the airport and up a valley in the West Maui Mountains. It was always covered with clouds and it was no different on Thursday. Along with the needle, there is stream and a demonstration farm area highlighting plants from the Hawaiians used in their farms. There were several ponds of taro. With all the lush vegetation, stream and taro ponds - of course there were mosquitos. I got several more bites along my ankles that just now have started to itch. Unfortunately, you will find lots of mosquitoes along the rain forest areas of Maui and in the evenings - even along the beach. One small nuance to endure for Paradise

'Iao Needle - Maui
'Iao Needle in Central Maui

November 20, 2010

Photohunt: Juicy



This week's photohunt theme is Juicy. I wasn't certain what I was going to do with this theme. I should have looked ahead and I would have had lots of opportunities to come up with something interesting while we were in Maui. But I didn't. So I looked through my cooking photos.

This year I purchased an ice cream maker. But instead of making ice cream, I have been making sorbet. I started with standard flavors like Lemon and strawberry but then moved to more exotic. I was shopping at my local Asian grocer - 99 Ranch - and saw some dragonfruit. Dragonfruit was my favorite fruit in Malaysia and the fruit is so beautiful to me. I can only find the white variety of Dragonfruit here in the US and it is not as sweet as the ones we had in Malaysia. But I thought it would make a very interesting sorbet.

The basic recipe for sorbet is to take a cup of juice or puree and mix with a cup of simple syrup. Most of the recipes I found called for just a few tablespoons of sugar but I increased it because the ones I had were not that sweet. I cut the dragonfruit and scooped out the pulp and pureed them in a blender. I mixed this with some simple syrup, froze it and voila - Dragonfruit sorbet. It is one of the prettiest sorbets. One thing to note - dragonfruit are *not* very juicy.

Whole dragonfruit


What they look cut in half - kinda like a white kiwi - also tastes similar

Juicing the pulp

The final product along with a couple of scoops of lime sorbet

November 27, 2010

Photohunt: Written

Richmond Beach - Shoreline WA
Initials and a heart written on a tree

This week's Photohunt theme is Written. I love this theme. There are so many ways to interpret it. I wanted to find something that showed 'written in sand' so I headed down to Richmond Beach. It was a windy cold day. I told my husband to bundle up but he didn't. He was very impatient while I was searching for items written in the park.

I did not find anything written in the sand. The tide was high. It was cold. And few people were at the beach. But I found several other items. A graffiti tag written on a metal pole. A written warning about harvesting shellfish. And initials written on a tree.

Richmond Beach - Shoreline WA
Graffiti written on a metal fence pole

Richmond Beach - Shoreline WA
Written warnings about harvesting shellfish written in several languages

Richmond Beach - Shoreline WA
An interesting driftwood shelter on the beach - but nothing written on it or in the sand

Richmond Beach - Shoreline WA
Blustry fall day - nothing written in the wind today but cold

December 4, 2010

Photohunt: Hard-to-find

Cypripedium montanum

This week's Photohunt theme is hard-to-find. This is another great theme that is open to lots of interpretations. But the first thing that came to my mind was wildflowers. Our hobby is to search out unusual wildflowers. Many of them are hard to find such as the beautiful lady slipper orchid - Cypripedium montanaum - shown above. We had been looking for this flower for many years before a friend told us a spot to find it. It was well hidden - growing beneath the cover of bushes. Once your found it - you could look around and suddenly see many other that were there before your eyes but very hard to find.

Another flower that is hard to find is Lewisia tweedyi shown below. It grows on cliff sides and along certain dirt roads. It is only in the Wenatchee mountain area of the Cascades in Washington state. It blooms for a short period in mid-May but is an another beauty when you find it.

Lewisia Tweedyi

December 18, 2010

Photohunt: Male


Proboscis monkey

I'm back. I have missed the previous two photohunts. I have a new job! Yeah! It is going well. I traveled to New Jersey for training during the first two weeks of December. I was busy or traveling so I missed the post. But I am back!

This week's Photohunt theme is Male. I knew right off what I would post about. We traveled to Bako National Park in Borneo specifically to see the Proboscis Monkeys. The males have a distinctive large nose. Experts think the nose is to attract the female. It is definitely large. They also make a very unique sound - a nasal sound that sounds like "Oh No". I also love their scientific name - Nasalis larvatus.

We arrived in Bako and the rangers told us that there was a troop of monkeys in the mangrove swamps just beyond the headquarters. We quietly walked up and were able to observe them while the tide was out. They were so cool. They moved farther out into the mudflats as the tide went out. We were so lucky and glad to be able to see them so soon after we arrived. It was one of the highlights of our trip.

If you would like to know more about the monkeys here are two links for more information.

Proboscis monkey

Proboscis monkey

Young Proboscis Monkeys arguing

Proboscis monkey

Proboscis monkey
Proboscis Monkey walking across the mangrove swamp mud flats during low tide

December 25, 2010

Photohunt: Circle


Washington State Capital in Olympia
Circles formed by the interior of the dome at the Washington State Capital in Olympia

This week's photohunt theme is circle. I did not have any idea what I wanted to post so it was definitely a hunt. I found a good series of photos that I had not yet posted. I visited my state capital building back in mid-August. I was in the area for a garden tour and decided to stop by and tour the capital building. The legislature was adjourned for the summer so it was deserted. I was able to walk around the building. I didn't have time to take one of the tours but thoroughly enjoyed the walk.

The dome is the 4th tallest masonry dome in the world surpassed only by St Peter's Cathedral in Rome, St Paul's Cathedral in London and St Issac's Cathedral in St Petersburg. You can visit the rotunda below the dome which is very impressive. The capital building opened in 1922 and the interior is indicative of the time. Throughout the rotunda are several circles of the state seal; on the flag, on the floor and on the railings.

Here are several more shots of the building.

Washington State Capital in Olympia

Washington State Capital in Olympia

Washington State Capital in Olympia

Washington State Capital in Olympia

Washington State Capital in Olympia

Washington State Capital in Olympia

Washington State Capital in Olympia

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