Saturday, August 29, 2009

Don't blast my ashes into space.......

Again, I sat in front of NASA TV for a couple hours waiting with nervous energy for the launch of the shuttle. I had stayed up late a couple of nights before only to have weather and then some broken device cause a delay. Mostly, I sit and hope that it DOESN'T go up. I just get so anxious and I can't imagine what possesses a person to want to actually do this. It's almost unbearable to me to wait for the launch. Sometimes I hope I will fall asleep and miss it.....but then, no pictures for the blog !! I wonder if anyone ever has 2nd thoughts about being blasted into space. I've never heard of them ever substituting someone when they have a delay.And to think that people actually PAY for a chance to sit on a rocket. I just can't imagine doing it. I just can't.......

But tonight, despite my hoping that a stray cloud would wander over and fire of one bolt of lightning, or a bulb would burn out or something just to stop it from roaring into space, it lifted off right on schedule. These pictures are really bad but I just had to prove to you that I did see it. It was a clear night and maybe that was not a good thing. Other times, the clouds have reflected a lot of the light and the shuttle has to go thru them and it makes for a more visible event. I had one ear on the TV and one foot out the back door. As soon as there was main ignition, there was this tremendous orange glow on the horizon, above the trees. And out of this glow came this brilliant orange light moving fair ly slowly upward.

Eventually, it started to arc over and became whiter in color. It then moved faster it seemed.

And then, it just looked like a bright moving star. I was able to see it until they said it was over 300 miles down range and 5 minutes from launch.

And now I can relax. Out of sight, out of mind I guess.

The area was very quiet. Usually we hear people cheering but it was still and only the frogs from the pond were clapping. And now I'm wide awake......

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nature's beauty

The afternoon and early evening storms persist. But we manage to get outdoors between raindrops. This is my view as I was on the way to the golf course about 5 pm today, following Rick and Ann and looking at the towering clouds up ahead. I wondered how much time we would have before the deluge. But I have my trusty iPHONE....(have I mentioned how much I love this thing) and I can check on LIVE weather radar and know when to head for shelter. Now, I realize that it might be just as easy to look at the sky and listen for the thunder but really, isn't it more fun to check the screen.......the X in the middle approximately marks our house. As we played, the build up continued and the sky darkened. I managed to get in 7 holes of brilliant golf despite not playing for almost a month.

We drove home in light rain and the downpour began as I pulled into the garage.......

Jeff has been in Mazatlan , visiting Travis and getting in some golf. And capturing this brilliant, awesome display over the city.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Learning new things.......

We have had some pretty intense weather of late. It is common to get those afternoon tropical downpours with a bit of thunder and some lightning. But it seems that the weather gods have really become aggressive and have been sending some scary stuff our way. I mentioned that a house recently burned to the ground after a direct lightning strike. It happened again this week. This time it was a tad farther from us but with the same result. And again, the homeowners were not in the house.

Shortly before the latest assault, I took this picture of the approaching dark ominous scene. Note the golfers on the course. At this point, the thunder was loud and lightning flashes were obvious but they played on. This is the 4th hole....not sure how long they acted foolish. They don't sound alarms for weather on the's up to the individual to have a brain and seek shelter. We are tied into a system where we get calls on our home and cell phones about weather warnings. That is helpful. We also have a NOAA radio, thanks to Jon and Marybeth, which is really LOUD.

Remember the picture of the sad plants on the trellis? We replaced them both the other day. And come to find out, the plants that I thought were mandevilla's, really were another type, called diplodenia. The new ones have larger blooms and lovely large shiny leaves.

It comes in white, pink and yellow.

Looks pretty skimpy right now but we look forward to vigorous growth and an abundance of blooms.

My latest project involves some technical reading. I know very little about computers. I can wander around and do most of what I want but don't understand a thing. And if something goes wrong, I have to ask for help, which is gladly given. But I want to know for myself. And everytime Michael adds something new , which we appreciate, I get behinder and deeper into ignorance. To that end, I have been thinking about a MAC. In this family, that is heresy. Having iPODS and iPHONES is bad enough but to go completely over to the dark side is not highly thought of at some family discussions. Jeff did get a desk top Apple for his photography work but uses a PC for a laptop. Now that would really confuse me.

I love the iPHONE. I've found it so intuitive and easy to understand and it just does what seems logical. We have a Sony laptop that has some quirky issues and is pushing me over to consider other options. To that end, I am doing some reading these days.

This is really basic stuff but that's where I need to start. And so far, I understand it all. But it makes me want to have one to practice on.
And, I am feeling better but still not 100%......but then, the last time I was 100% , I was 16 and .....well, we won't go there.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Well, I lied.....

I guess I'm not feeling as well as I thought. Finally went to get checked out and came home with these. She thinks its probably allergies or a virus. But gave me an Rx for an antibiotic if I didn't improve in a few days and today I had that filled. So, I'm accepting gifts of all kinds, especially chocolate and wine. Not that I can drink the wine now but it may come in handy when I'm celebrate. I actually don't feel that terrible but I'm just not better. I MAY try golf tonight but doubt I could make it past 3 or 4 holes.
So, I"m knitting, Paul's playing golf and I'm looking for some new reading material if anyone has a good suggestion. I've read in the past few months, and highly recommend, "The Reader", "Revolutionary Road" (excellent) "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society", charming and delightful, "The Dive from Clausen's Pier"( an older book that I picked up at the Newtown Library sale (love that event) and found the ending less than satisfying. Easy good summer read tho. I slogged thru "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon who has a new book out "The Angel's Game". Shadow was very well written and very interesting and I like books with depth but even tho the reviews were over the top, I needed a list to keep track of Spanish names and just was ready for it to be over. I think it would make a wonderfully dark movie. I'm going to start "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. Paul read it and wanted me to read it so we could discuss it. I do want to read "The Help" but not in hardcover. Remember my discussion on the KINDLE. Well, some days I really want one so I can just download a book but then I realize how many I could actually buy at the store with that $299. Doesn't seem practical yet........and everyone knows how very practical I am.

The shuttle is going back up on Tues am. at 2 am.... I might just have to get up for it. But only if it's a clear night.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Watching the Sky

This was a surprise yesterday when Claudette decided to visit. We only had clouds but the Panhandle is getting pummeled today. We are watching Ana and newly upgraded Hurricane Bill out in the Atlantic. We went so far as to buy extra water and a battery operated lamp. We thought about other possible needs but will wait to see if there is a trend in our direction. So far they are saying it will go North. From what we've heard, hurricanes are usually downgraded to a Tropical Storm status by the time they reach us. Last summer one came while we were gone and they had torrential rains and area flooding.

This morning at 6:30 , I arose and checked the TV to see if the world was still there. The local channel announced the launch of the last Delta II rocket carrying a GPS satellite. I dashed outside just in time to capture this picture from the back of the house.

When the shuttles go up, it goes in a large arc to the left. This rocket was like brilliant candle that went straight up. The morning sunrise gave it some added color.

Here it continues upward but looks like a big arc. It was really lovely and remained in view much longer than the shuttle.

And then I went for a walk ............

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thank you for asking....

I am feeling better. Not great but better. Enough so that I managed to get most of the weeds pulled that took over in the past three weeks. It was overcast and in the 70's so I decided it was now or never.
This is the view from the lanai yesterday. The past two days we have had some significant thunderstorms. There is a road and a pond across the golf course that is obscured. On Tuesday, we had some serious thunder, that real loud crack that makes you wonder how close it was. Well, apparently it was too close. A house about a mile away received a direct hit and burned to the ground. Fortunately, no one was home. This is the 2nd home since we've been here that has had a direct hit and been destroyed. ( They call Central Florida the Lightning capital) And the gas lines run thru the attic so I would imagine that makes it go up a bit faster. Our village was the last for gas installations.....all the new ones are all electric.

If you will notice in this picture, "which one of these does not look like the other". ...... We planted these two mandevillas at the same time in November. They did great and bloomed vigorously and began the climb up the trellis. Then one day I noticed that the left one was drooping. Something was wrong with the sprinkler and nothing could be done and it dried up despite begging and pleading and lots of water. The other one , right beside it looks healthy. And then, the mandevilla on the light pole beside the drive way died while we were gone. It also was blooming and growing. And it is getting water. I'll have to check with local experts and see if this is common. Not sure if we will plant another or look into something else. Not being a gardner, I just expect the plants to do their thing without much intervention from me.
Changing the subject.......this is the back of a sweater that I'm currently working on. Guess I should have taken it in a portrait mode but if you are really that interested , just turn your head.

And here is a little something that I bought on Etsy. For those of you who do not know, it is a site for selling your art and craft items.....or most anything handmade. This was made by Terry Grant( and is beautifully crafted of fabric. And just seems to belong.

Paul just returned home from his weekly Inner Circle Golf outing. About 32 guys play each Friday. This week his foursome WON !! $3.00

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Take Two Aspirin....

Instead of drinking these on the ship.........

I should have had this on the rocks. .........

Today I am curled up in a blanket on the couch, well fortified with motrin and water and kleenix. I had a scratchy throat on the ship which has hung on. Yesterday I was dragging and today I have surrendered to a cold and hopefully nothing more than that.

The ship was very proactive in trying to prevent any outbreaks of the dreaded Noro virus....a GI bug that spreads quickly and can take over an entire ship. Everywhere, and I mean everywhere, there were hand sanitizer stands and frequently, when going into dine, a young man would be standing at the door ready to squirt gel on your hands. The bathroom doors had a sign that said to open door with a tissue or one of the cloth towels and had a recepticle right there to dispose of it. As a nurse and something of a clean freak about food and hand washing and such, I was impressed.
So now, I'm going to curl up with my knitting and take a day off. Paul is out the door to play is hot out there today.
Be sure and wash your hands after reading this........

Monday, August 10, 2009

All Good Things....

We're home. On one hand it is just plain good to be here. Back among the bed that sags in the right places, the chairs that fit and the comfortable old clothes that never go in the luggage. On the other.......we had such a wonderful time these past 17 or 18 days. I"m not sure that the perfection of it could be duplicated but wouldn't it be fun to turn around and do it all over again. I'd show you different pictures tho.

Mike and Paul returned Saturday about noon with a major plumbing problem with the RV. By putting their heads together and doing some research, they felt they could fix it themselves. Here's Mike contemplating the issue. Jenna was delighted with the porcelein fixture on the front lawn for most of the day.

All you RV enthusiasts can email Paul directly about the problem but I guess other owners of this model have experienced the same thing.

Initially, when I viewed the scene below, I thought they were going for a more primitive solution. While the guys were up to their rubber gloves in work, I did some interior dusting and then Jenna and I WASHED the outside of the RV. We did not climb up on the roof but did manage to give it a good scrubbing with a long handled brush and soapy water. We did a fine job but it wasn't easy.

And then P and I tidied up and headed for a 5pm Southwest flight arriving home at 10:30. The walk off the plane was like hitting a sponge. From no humidity to practically 100% was a bit uncomfortable. Today we have enjoyed just catching up on paperwork and laundry and mail and enjoying the views on the golf course.

And one more thing. I finished a great book today. "The Art of Racing in the Rain". It's been out for a year or more so some of you might already 'love Enzo'. Mark and Annette, this is a book for you.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pay it Forward

Friday was the last day of the jeep event and I was invited back for an encore ride. I arrived bright and early and promptly at the appointed hour, 18 jeeps headed out of camp for a half day exploration. The lead is someone experienced and knowledgeable about the area. The tail gunner brings up the rear and watches for breakdowns and mishaps. Everyone is connected to Ch 4 on their CB radios. The day before, Paul and Mike watched as the yellow jeep in front of them did a slow fall from grace and turned over on its side in an area of large boulders. No one was hurt altho the passengers had to hang suspended for awhile before they could get out. This type of drama gets everyone's adrenaline going and provides fodder for the campfire chatter and tall tales. Plus they get to use all that expensive equipment of pulleys and wenches (or is that winches) that is bonded to their toys.

Along the way there are always signs that tell us someone has been there before and worked alot harder and with less equipment.

And then there was a problem.

While solutions were sought, the rest of the group continued to a larger area to circle the wagons and have lunch.
Our meager party pondered the situation.........

And enjoyed the views of Georgetown down in the valley. Lovely little historical town along I-70 going west .

And more pondering as they realized that they DID NOT HAVE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT to fix the problem. !

While all that was going on, I was contemplating the beauty of the ancient and perfect Aspens.

But all was not lost. Necessity is the mother of invention. Other jeeps had gas cans but no gas in them ??? Our jeep had a gas gauge but no one looked at it ???. One jeep had enough gas in its tank. Using a windshield washer fluid hose, a cut up water bottle and a taste of gas, siphoning began.

So that was the excitement for the day, or so we thought. We headed back to camp for lunch and then Mike suggested that we head over to Vail Pass and try a trail he had done last year. Alex opted to stay in the RV and watch golf.

We headed over sedate trails and off in the distance, the highest peak on the right is Holy Cross Mtn. When there is some snow on the peak, it forms a large cross in the crevices. Quite pretty.

The trail continued higher and we jostled along a stream / trail for a mile or so.
Near the top we came across two women looking lost. They had gone for a leisurely 4 hour hike, taken a wrong turn and were now way off course. They had forgotten their maps at the hotel and had no idea where they were. Because Alex had stayed behind, we had room and offered to return them to their car at Vail Pass. They were 15 miles off course.!! I think they were a bit shaken by the situation and realized that they probably would have had to spend the night on the mountain. They were pretty well equipped and were very experienced but still got into trouble.

We understood.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

From Zero to Twelve Thousand in Four Days

On the ship,( supposedly,) while we were surrounded by mountains, one of the passengers asked what our altitude was !!!??? Well, going from Sea Level to Rocky Mountain highs in 4 days isn't necessarily the easiest trip. We flew into the Mile High City and after a day of partial acclimation, Paul headed up to the Mile High City All 4 Fun Jeep event at over 7000 ft. Mike is well equipped for this type of event with his Rubicon jeep, outfitted by Jenna's brother Chris to be able to climb tall boulders. Our motorhome spends the summer out there so that is base camp for assorted family that chose to go on this ride. All this scenic beauty is only 55 minutes from their doorstep. Over 200 jeeps join in the event and it is quite a gathering. They go on daily trail rides over unimaginable terrain. I blogged about this last year if you care to go back and look. (August 08, different locale)
I received an invite to join this rugged adventure and Mike promised me a scenic and terror-free ride. We started off on deeply rutted roads. With tires very deflated the jeep sort of sways over the gullys.
We passed abandoned mines. People still sort thru the rubble for a chance to find a nugget or two.

The climb becomes steeper, narrower and bumpier. This picture doesn't capture the texture and when it really got rough and tumble, I was hanging on and couldn't take a picture.
These are serious back roads, merely a mule trail in spots and the chance of breaking something and getting stranded are pretty real. Mike had to go down for repairs on Tuesday. This truck had a serious problem, and according to the writing in the dust on it, had been there since mid-July. The injury looked fatal and not sure how or if it will ever get off the mtn.

Once we were high up, we were able to look across to another mtn trail. Mike and Lizzie took that zig-zag ride the day before. It always feels like I'm the only one around when we go up into these mtns and then suddenly, 2 more vehicles show up or are already there. These trails are clearly mapped and Mike just plugs them into the sophisticated GPS and off we go. The GPS also allows him to leave "breadcrumbs" on the display if he goes off trail so he can find his way back.
This is a view of the camp site from up high.

We still had a ways to go to our destination. Surprisingly, I had a cell signal and was able to send out a picture, labeled 11,717 ft. Jon responded with a picture of the boys labeled 300 ft.

We are above tree line at this point.
There are many things to see besides the views. The pine and juniper are wind swept and form interesting shapes. Even the dried and dessicated are beautiful.

It seemed to be peak season for wild flowers. I used to know the names of the mountain flowers but now I just remember the Indian paintbrush which is very prolific.

Almost 1200 feet at this lovely alpine lake off in the distance.

It has been several years since we have been "in" the mountains and I have missed them. There is a saying that "time spent in the mountains is not deducted from your life" We believe it and plan to do more of it. It is truly a special place.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Victoria, British Columbia / Butchart Gardens

We arrived in Victoria at 6 pm on Saturday and left at 11:30 pm so time was of the essence if we wanted to see anything. Mostly , we just wanted to see the gardens. And apparently, so did everyone else. We boarded a bus, one of probably 10 or 20 and had a drive thru the city on our way to Butchart.

Flowers are everywhere in Victoria and especially, these gigantic impressive hanging baskets.

Jenny Buchart and her husband , in the early 1900's, had a cement business and land to mine limestone. When friends arrived by boat, she wanted a welcoming sight to greet them so she built a beautiful Japanese garden. I didn't get any decent pictures of that area as the light was fading fast.

When the limestone was exhausted, there remained a large open pit. So she planted and planted. The sides are covered in ivy that she planted while lowered in a hanging chair. There are paths meandering through out this area and masses and masses of color. It was amazing.

Everywhere there are fountains and ponds and streams and waterfalls.


The climate is very temperate here and rarely freezes so there are blooms year round. There is also an Italian garden and a Rose garden. Most of the flowers are pretty ordinary but its just the number and the color and the design that is so stunning. I wish the light would have been brighter but the evening was coming on fast.

It was very crowded. On Saturday nights they have music and fireworks to bring out even more people.

We had an evening tour of Victoria on our way back to the ship and the town is lovely even at midnight.

One of my favorite flowers, actually, my very favorite flower is the tulip. The ship, being of Dutch registry, had these magnificent paintings in the main dining area. They were quite large and quite impressive as a group.

And returning to our rooms for one last night, we had this hanging from the window with a note from our stewards.

It was a super trip and I'm already planning the next one. Please come along.

I'm off to the mountains for a few hours of jeeping today. Pictures at 11.