Thursday, September 20, 2012
Inside was one lone soul praying quietly in the cool shade and whom I did not frame in the photograph.
Behind the church was something even more refreshing and inspiring.
I do not believe in traditional religions but I do believe in the power of prayer. I slowly walked this maze and said to my self with each careful step "Peace on Earth. Goodwill Toward Men." I held in my mind the embassies across the globe with their hardworking diplomatic corps wondering if they will be called home without warning on this day or if they might face a greater challenge through no fault of their own.
And then we took a tourist photo for remembrance.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
How the top 1% live in Maine where they get a view of the harbor at Bar Harbor, Maine.
A not very good photo of the red fox that was intrigued by the sound of children laughing and chasing in the nearby playground.
A public beach in Maine. Water in the ocean was still pretty cool!
This view in the photo above is from the highest point in Acadia looking back toward the town of Bar Harbor.
And we never were hungry as blueberries were in abundance wherever the soil was boggy enough!
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
This week I am breathing and eating slowly and catching up on all those murder mysteries that I missed watching when my grandson was here. I did get him introduced to the Narnia series and now have purchased two other DVDs for when he returns for a few days this fall.
While I was breathing like a yoga instructor and sitting in front of the computer upstairs the house began to sway and jerk. I did have a small glass of wine at the computer, but I knew it was not that, and instead, hopped like a crazy bunny outside. I could see the bird feeders swinging dramatically from side to side in the back yard and I waited outside at least ten minutes before going back inside. I am alone this week as hubby is on a business trip. I figure I would not be found beneath the rubble for days! 5.8 on the earthquake scale and the largest since 100 years ago. Everyone up and down the East Coast felt it.
I walked carefully around the house when I got back inside and found only one broken wine glass that had been hanging in the rack beneath the cupboard. It seems that Colorado got a similar earthquake just a short while ago. Here in the East we rarely get quakes, so they can be very startling. Mother earth is settling down after all the water, oil, gas, and shale we have been taking from her layers.
Next week I get the 4-year-old girl for a week. She is much more clingy and far less in love with the great outdoors Maybe baking, making cookies, tea parties...! Then we are off to Colorado and Utah for two weeks. I will be taking the laptop and hoping to post and looking forward to some dramatic scenery to preserve with my camera. I sure hope what I have to write about is of more significance and readability than these last few weeks. I just need some Rocky Mountain air as my gray matter has been very sluggish these days.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
There is a little four-year-old whimpering quietly in my nearby bed. She has lost her 'doggie,' The bright pink one with the rip in its' bottom that was placed ever so carefully in her arms earlier when she was tucked in bed next to her 6-year-old brother.
Suddenly the young boy sits straight up in bed as if awakened by my gentle search. I recognize his Elmo doll on the pillow between him and his sister. But, I see he has something in his arms as he stares across the room. I reach over and grab the Elmo and take the small dog from his arms and thrust Elmo in his arms and gently push him back down on the bed. Hubby comes out of the bathroom and I whisper that he has to sleep with his grandson as granddaughter has taken his place in my bed. I hand her the doggie and slip in beside her. She is in heaven. She has her doggie and she gets to snuggle with Neena. I am going to try to fall asleep once again before the sun.
Thus goes our first night of vacation. Grandkids = 2 and grandparents =0
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Baltimore is a changing city. I used to drive up there for meetings when I was working and had to make sure I got parking passes for the John Hopkins campus before heading out, because if you parked anywhere outside the campus area, it was really creepy and probably dangerous. Like New York, you can make one wrong turn and feel very unsafe.
But I will have to admit that the last decade has been kind to Baltimore. The harbor area has been re-vitalized with lots of high-end restaurants, fun museums, and tourist activities. There are also inexpensive activities for families to enjoy. We stayed in one of those expensive waterfront hotels and got nice morning and evening views across the harbor.
The bright light in the center below is the stadium where the Orioles game was being played.
This city has drama and intrigue and both "The Wire" and "Homicide: Life in the City" were filmed here reflecting the grittier side of this town. I think Baltimore is a 'little' like New Orleans or Venice in that there are some very artistic and passionate citizens that keep the city interesting in spite of the crime and poverty that lies just beneath the surface. The building below is where "Homicide" was filmed.
While there was much lovely restored and new architecture along the greatly improved waterfront, one did not have to walk too far before you could see the painful transitions that are still ongoing.
We ate at my one of my favorite high-end restaurant chains, Roy's. While those Roy's in Hawaii are the best, they do try to keep that Asian fusion thing going across the continent. Italian wine, spicy edamame appetizers, a crisp Asian spinach salad, tiger shrimp on jalapeno risotto and roasted veggies followed by a wonderful creme brulee. It may sound too eclectic, but actually it was very good, and the restaurant was only a block's walk from the hotel, so the high 90 degree temperature did not ruin the weekend. (This was also the same weekend when I saw the art film I Am Love and one of reasons we are still married is that hubby sat through the whole thing and actually stayed awake enough to help forward the after-conversation!)
Monday, May 31, 2010
If you close your eyes and remember this past winter...I know you don't want to go there, but stay with me... perhaps you will remember how we escaped from my front yard with the downed trees via canoe crossing two feet of snow as we left early for a week in sunny 'tropical' Florida. And, naturally, once we got there, warm weather...well, not so much! It was as cold as a Minnesota fall. Six weeks later we left once again, this time with the grandkids and their parents, for another jaunt in an attempt at finding early summer and summer was still was being held hostage somewhere down near the equator.
Our first day at the beach late last March was really not so bad...just pretty windy but not enough to blow sand in your face. We tucked behind a sand dune and when I got up to go exploring I saw this 'person' on the other side of our dune in the shelter of another little sandy hill. It was NOT that cold. I cannot fathom what on earth he was thinking if this was the necessary costume and attitude for him to spend a day at the beach. He should have stayed back at the condo or hotel or saved money and stayed at his home up North...or PERHAPS he was here hiding from all of his family that were holding up back at the condo avoiding the wind. Hmmmm. Maybe I feel sorry for him. (This isn't you, hiding from you know who, is it?)
(Remember our troops this Memorial Day weekend if you live in the great U.S.A.)
Friday, April 16, 2010
My grandchildren are very privileged and we will certainly reap the problems of that in years to come, but their joy is an immediate reward. During our week in Long Boat Key, Florida, they went to the Seafood Fest for face painting and carnival rides; they went to a zoological garden to feed animals and watch a bird show; they challenged their parents at putt-putt golf, spent days at the pool and the beach, and did Disney World as only toddlers can. They even spent an afternoon at the children's science museum--G-Whiz. During 'down' times they watched videos, were read stories and we even squeezed in an Easter egg hunt! Very different than my childhood vacations which usually consisted of reading comic books under the tree on the farm after I had finished my chores. There are pros and cons to both life styles, I guess.
We are working hard to make this gal a nature lover. But, in all fairness, the flamingo birds were much taller than her! She did get a kick out of their pretty 'pink' color which is her favorite, of course. Below the lights of my life are filling the moat to the castle with water...at least attempting this challenge.
Above my little gal gossips about Ariel with Belle at Disney World. If you don't know who Belle is, than you are definitely not a Fairy Tale aficionado and must get with the program.
Monday, March 08, 2010
I took most of these pictures just for Maggie at Postcards who is intrigued by ships and recently posted a very nice photo of one. You may also enjoy this post if you also like old style ships and rigging.
The old phrase to "show them the ropes" certainly comes to mind when looking at this photo. I cannot begin to imagine how complicated sailing this ship would be and how everyone would have to 'dance' together when needed. This is called a barquentine rig and I know nothing about it, but it sounds so romantic. Hubby has just finished reading the entire Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brian (which I gave him one birthday) and was into this self guided tour big time.
Looks like they may need a rope weaver for this important rope above.
Above is the command center, of course.
Clearly every detail was carefully preserved including keeping several stained glass doors near the former bar. This ship was built by Italian craftsmen in Brazil and launched in 1989 by a Brazilian industrialist before it was sold to this group. It is quite beautiful. Feel free to click on photos for a closer look.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Even though the wind was bitterly cold in both Charleston and Savannah, we did peek into some of the traditional courtyard gardens that were next to the historic homes and mansions and found that camellias were in abundant bloom. Spring was certainly on its way here. These photos of tuck-away gardens reminded me of Annie in Austen and Kerri in New York among many of the other bloggers that love flowers and post blossoms throughout the year to chase the winter blues.
Yes, this garden gate has a real estate lockbox on the latch. There were a number of homes for sale throughout the city of Savannah. I just love the decorative concrete posts and arched gate and arched tree and had to capture the photo and maybe I will photoshop the lockbox out next time.
I was getting hungry so I pulled hubby away from his new found friend discussing the acid inducing Dow and headed to the newly refurbished town center. It is very modern and still under construction and a harsh contrast to the romance of the city. At least the parking is now underground.
The restaurants were not filled with customers, either due to the recession or the time of year or both. The food was always good if a little too rich in calories. Late one evening after too much food and, perhaps, too much wine I decided to try my lampshade hat dance around the restaurant to liven the place up much to my husband's dismay! He can be very patient. (Actually, as we all know this is really Littleredhare trying out an arty pose.)
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
I was just getting ready to take a photo of Bagman leaning against this pole (click for all the gooey detail) covered in chewing gum outside the famous Savannah market place, and just as I lifted the camera, Bagman stuck a large wad of bubble gum next to the hundreds of others and dashed off after a twenty-something whose skirt had flown above her head in the strong winds. When he is on a mission it is impossible to keep up! Just to let you know he was wearing tight black jeans and black cowboy boots, of all things.
Shortly after that we headed to the water and were sitting on a lovely bench swing beneath a shelter on the Savannah waterfront. Butler had just completed putting up this wire barrier in the ceiling above to keep out the hundreds of pigeons and then gave us a stern look as he pointed at the sign behind the screen which he must have installed earlier. You may need to click on the photo. Scheduled swinging? What happened to the leisurely South? They should never let Butler run amok in the land of romance. I neglected to take a picture, but beneath his winter London fog coat he appeared to be in a tuxedo? Historically Savannah was the land of cotton and this area had been lined with warehouses for shipping out the bales. There was very little time then for swinging, I am sure.
We ignored Butler's stern frown and headed back into town looking for some hot tea and nutrition past the houses that sometimes look like cake frosting. Savannah, definitely one of my favorite cities, affords too many opportunities for photos. Lots of fun architecture and too much wonderful history to put in this blog post. The last photo is Savannah's famous Rainbow Row which has houses painted the colors of the Caribbean.
Before we leave Savannah there will be time for a little nightlife in my next post.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The grand entry (photo below) where you must go to purchase a ticket includes a huge souvenir shopping area that has nothing to do with the natural wonders of this great country but is willing to sell you a lot of crap that will end up in the land fills of your back yard. Note the convenient ATM in the left side of the photo below.
Finally you can walk or take a shuttle bus down into the valley to finally see the natural bridge. It sits along a lovely rushing river. If you can ignore the bench seating for the evening light show about the creation of the earth, avoid the view of the huge speakers that now sit on top of the bridge nestled against the shrubbery, and also ignore the wedding taking place on the far left, you might imagine what this wonder would have looked like when first seen by America's early pioneers.
It is worth visiting, even though you will feel a little fleeced by the time you leave. Baaaaa!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Travel requires some planning prior to departure on where one can stay. Well, some people pack a bag and pull into anywhere along the road. I have had a few experiences where a soccer tournament or a convention have forced me to stay 30 miles outside the city, so I always make reservations and have a plan. On my most recent trip I stayed at a Budget Inn that cost about $65 for the night. The room was very small, only two thin towels, a comfortable bed, no coffee pot or hair dryer, but clean. If I wanted to eat something I had to get in my car and drive a small distance as the restaurant across the parking lot did not smell all that good, really.
The second place that I stayed was a Fairfield Inn. This is the low end of the Marriott chain of rental residences and cost us just under $100 for the night. We got a hair dryer, good coffee, a large room with a sitting area, and a free communal breakfast area with make-your-own waffles or heat-your-own pastries and cereal, fresh fruits, and yogurt. Distance to nearby tourist areas was short. We are Marriott members so we also got points and discounts.
Our final place to stay for three nights was a B&B (Bed and Breakfast) out near the mountains of North Carolina. This was a lovely old home that had 10 bedrooms on three levels and has been an operating B&B for over 15 years. The rooms had interesting themes and the one I reserved was called 'Light and Shadows' and was the photography room with antique cameras and a magazine or two on photography. The quilt and decor was very nice. It had a small sitting area and a lovely claw-footed bathtub in the bathroom that was a challenge for me (who is in pretty good physical shape) to enter and exit. The bathroom had super thick towels, fragrant shampoos and soaps and a hair dryer. There was even a small private deck outside our bedroom with two small chairs to sit and look over the beautifully landscaped gardens. B& B's provide full breakfast and this one would even cook a dinner if you requested. The breakfasts were delicious and filling if not outstanding. There were two sitting rooms in the common area, one with a free computer access and lots of books to read. Artificial fireplaces were everywhere adding to a very cozy atmosphere. A small area was set up for coffee, tea or cappuccino at any time of the day or night. There were fresh homemade cookies waiting for us at the end of every hiking and touring day. There was no television, thank goodness. The cost was $130 per night.
Bed and Breakfast establishments are usually more expensive than staying at more predictable chains. Some of my friends stay at higher end hotels that cost between $200 and $300 a night and think that is a reasonable price to pay for what they expect. To some extent you get what you pay for in this world of travel. Location is probably the most important feature if you plan on seeing anything in the area.
B&Bs are not everyone's cup of cappuccino. They usually attract garrulous Garys and chatty Cathys; people who want to talk at breakfast before you head out and who want to hear about your day and tell you about theirs before you head up to bed. The Innkeepers themselves are great for communicating important information about the area and they love to hear about your experiences, because they live there and run an Inn and don't get out much anymore! Therefore, if you are a private and quiet person you may want to clarify this before you make reservations at a B&B so that the innkeeper can put you in the most remote bedroom and keep a smaller table available for you and your buddy at breakfast. OR you may wish to check into the nearby hotel.
The fun part of B&Bs is the people you meet. I ate breakfast with a young couple that live only two miles from my brother's house in Colorado! I ate another breakfast with a minister and his wife on their anniversary vacation and a couple from San Francisco who had not ever traveled much, so we could be the experts. I chatted with a widow whose husband had planned the trip months ago and then had a massive heart attack on Father's Day while fishing. She and her sister took the trip anyway as it helped her deal with her grief.
Of course, the real serendipity experience was learning our waitress at the local Italian restaurant downtown came from Sulawesi, Indonesia where my husband was heading in just a few days! He got to practice his Bahasa which he has not used in decades.
Travel is great for the historic places and natural scenery, but also fruitful for all the people that you meet.
(The photo is the Biltmore Estate...and I did NOT stay there.)
Thursday, May 07, 2009
I will begin with the facts. There were 14 of us on the trip: 5 grandparents, 4 parents and 5 children. One set of the grandparents and all other parents and children were staying on in Orlando for a few days. We and another grandmom had flights out the day the cruise ship docked. The New Jersey grandmother's flight was mid-day and ours was 5:00 PM.
The traveling grandparents had hoped to catch an earlier standby flight, so at 9:00 we headed for the airport in our two vans, one of which was rented, and both packed to their brims (and overflowing) with luggage and children in car seats.
Arriving at the airport, we said our goodbyes to the various folks in the two vans and gathering baggage the three of us headed to the ticket line. It was VERY long, but when we told the airline personnel that all three of us were looking to grab earlier flights she moved us to the very head of the priority check-in line! We all got checked in as standbys and we separated from the other grandmother who was flying to another city and then headed to the security.
Things started to unravel while standing in another long line at security when my hubby remembered he had forgotten his small black bag in one of the vans. It had his cell phone, day planner, etc. Our kids were flying out in three days so we guessed that they could check it or carry it for us on their flight. We couldn't call anyone because my cell phone was dead and I had forgotten my charger. While waiting in line, hubby realized he also had his car keys to our big car in that bag. A small sour fear emerged as we saw ourselves arriving at our airport and not being able to get into our car? In a panic we left our place in line and found an Internet access place and tried to send an email to daughter but remembered her blackberry was also out of power. We would try to email my S.O.L., but after logging into my hubby's email, realized we did not have the S.O.L.s email address in the email address folder. (All this time the little money charger is ticking away at the bottom of the screen making us even more irritated and panicked.) I tried to log into my email, but realized my provider had required a recent change to the password and I couldn't remember exactly what I had changed it too since I auto log-on from my home PC. The little counter like a deranged clock was continuing to tick away...$2.00---$5.00---$9.00!!
Then some of hubby's brain cells activated their cell connections and he exclaimed "MAZDA!" I looked at him and realized that the car we had parked at the airport was the smaller one and I did have the keys to THAT car. We stopped the ticker.
We got back in what was now an even longer security line. While standing there, hubby pulled out his passport with the standby ticket inside and immediately realized he did not have his driver's license! He had used it at check-in and at the pre-gate...where was it? Again we pulled all of our bags out of the security line--we were getting so good at this-- as he ran across the airport and back to the first check-in area. The day was moving on without us and it was almost noon. The security lines were now snaking their way into the empty spaces in front of the stores as huge crowds were leaving Orlando.
Finally, after fifteen minutes had passed, hubby returned, sweat dotting his brow, and with driver's license in hand! By now all hope of going stand-by on the only two prior and fully booked flights was nil. We decided to eat an early dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in the terminal and then head for our gate. We boarded our flight without further incident (after all we had arrived at the airport 8 hours early)...BUT the gods of travel were not done screwing around with our family just yet.
The rest of our group that had stayed on in Orlando left three days later. Two groups of parents and children were flying out and the grandparents were driving their car back up north with most of the baggage. As my daughter's family was the last to check out of the resort she noticed a medium black bag remaining in the apartment. She checked and found this was the bag of the OTHER grandfather that had now been forgotten. (What is it with grandfathers anyway??) The bags owner was eating breakfast not far from the area and using her husband's cell daughter called them about it. They asked if she and their son could drop it off on their way to the airport. Since daughter's family was running only 10 minutes behind, they did so (!).
Well, needless to say, that ten minutes was the most important ten minutes of the entire trip. The lines on Sunday afternoon at Orlando airport are phenomenal. Upon finally getting through security daughter and S.O.L. grabbed toddlers, bags and all and ran to the gate arriving 10 minutes before departure and finding the airline policy was the gate closed at 10 minutes before and absolutely no boarding was allowed after that. (It was in the small print on the ticket and this is how they meet their departure times.) Yes, they had missed their flight and the airline was not sympathetic to their problem.
My daughter is a whiz at blackberrying and using her husband's device she tried everything to get a flight. Nothing was available until the following day and she ABSOLUTELY had to be at work on Monday.
So they called the grandparents who were driving home and explained their problem. These grandparents, who were now two hours north of Orlando, turned the car around and picked up the family of four and all of their luggage and crammed everything into the now overstuffed van. One would think that the day had been saved...but this was not so.
Outside of St. Augustine the van broke down. Smoking and belching strange smells it came to a complete stop beside a very busy highway and far from anywhere.
Now the scenario involved calling for a tow truck, taking the van to a garage, and since the van parts would not arrive until the next day, checking into a hotel for the night. The greater problem was that the tow truck driver could only take two of them leaving the rest with small children beside a busy highway. Well, this would not work for daughter who ABSOLUTELY has to be at work on Monday--I think I mentioned that. So, daughter and family spent busy time calling for a rental car and ended up driving non-stop all day and all night to their home. Arriving exhausted they unload the car and returned it and she headed into work ...an hour late...but where she was supposed to be.
Kind of takes the rest and relaxation part out of the vacation doesn't it? (Long story, and I didn't even tell you about the canceled flight and plane mechanical issue on the replacement plane that the other family had to deal with at the START of the vacation!)
Monday, May 04, 2009
I am not going to write about richness of one's soul here, but actual money rich.
I have just spent a week at a nice resort on Hilton Head Island. Lots of rich people live and vacation there.
I grew up poor and have blogged about that in the past. I wasn't Dolly-Parton-poor, but close. There were five kids and only one blue-collar income, so we became masters at stretching the dollar. Food was in abundance from the garden and small farm, but everything else was make-do. I knew we were poor, but many in our small community were in the same boat. In spite of this income level, my parents were able to send all five of us to college and 4 of us graduated. We all became successful in our own ways and one of us (maybe two) (not I) is a millionaire.
I have never seen myself as rich, but as comfortable and middle class. Yesterday in a conversation with my son-in-law he said that he admired that we were conservative people even though we were rich. (Both he and my daughter make six figure incomes, so I was certainly surprised that he saw us that way.)
And yet, I guess if I think about it, by many standards we are rich. Our house is finally paid for, we have a steady retirement income--small but one of us is indexed! We have health insurance. Our 401ks have shrunk by 50%, but we can actually survive without them if we live like a normal retired couple. Due to this recession we won't have the international travel we had dreamed about, but we are not like some in worrying about health bills or other important issues.
We also have many small luxuries we could cut if needed as inflation will certainly rear its ugly head when the piper must be paid. Yep, we are rich.
This last photo was taken from our bedroom at the resort. If you click on the photo you will see why I was taken by the body language of the middle-aged couple in the lounge chairs. Being rich has its price and this photo may tell part of that story.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Four nights and five days cruising the Caribbean with Disney can leave one a little overwhelmed. Too tired and overstimulated to write anything of depth I will briefly describe for those who want to try this adventure someday.
- These ships don't 'cruise' on all days. On some days they go in circles just outside the shipping lanes very slowly to make you think you are moving somewhere. If you don't believe me, watch currents and sun angles on your next cruise. (And you can also test one of the navigators as we did and they will admit to you are just moving around.)
- Even though Disney "owns" the Disney Island, other than the free food, the cost of everything else from bicycles, snorkeling gear, cold drinks delivered to your chair, etc. is VERY MUCH like being on any other resort island.
- Every event on the cruise is all about being in the party mood and if I hadn't had small children along, I might have felt a bit too pressured to be happy!
- The cheapest rooms on the cruise (which we had booked) are very nice, clean and more roomy than I anticipated.
- Disney is the master of service and the staff are almost Stepfordish in their pleasant demeanor, efficiency in service and pretending they are interested in every little thing you have to say about your trip...sort of reminds me of my dog years ago.
- The live theater shows are wonderful and free and I think as good as any Broadway play although only an hour long. Lots of great talent.
- The food is reasonably good, but I have very high standards, and when you are trying to feed 2,700 people it does get to taste a little like cafeteria food after a while, even if they are serving you lobster bisque or rum baba.
- Your wait staff follows you from restaurant to restaurant---assigned seating in the evenings---so they get to know your preferences and demands really well. Most of them are from countries other than the U.S. We had a girl from Belgium (although she was Vietnamese) and a man from Thailand. Our room staff was from Indonesia and the Philippines. Most of the staff at the cruise director level were from Australia although we met one fellow from France. It is a small world after all.
- The last morning of the cruise prior to disembarkation (this is how you talk when you have been on a cruise) they had scheduled us for a 6:45 A.M. breakfast. One could always go to the top deck buffet if they wanted and some of our party of 13 did that. Some of us were drug along whether we wanted to go or not. Below is my grand daughter who woke up at 4:00 and whom I brought to our bed. Getting her dressed at 6:30 was an Herculean task. I got the diaper off and changed but had to give up on the dress!
- The title of this post was due to Xman meeting Wendy on the first day and her sending him on the mission to find Peter Pan. A mission asked by a beautiful girl is taken very seriously by a small boy. He met lots of characters.
- Would I do it again? Perhaps. It was much more pleasant than I thought, but I think much of this is due to having small children with which to interact. And there was also plenty of areas on the boat or the beach to get away from all the little ones. Disney is also the master of programming activities for all ages including teenagers.
(Unfortunately, while we enjoyed the entire trip, the time in the airport before we headed home is definitely blog-worthy of a future "life story blog" as it was a comedy of errors that had nightmarish proportions.)
- It is good to be home!