Friday, November 27, 2009

From My Past

Pencil Cup

For Photo Friday.
I made this pencil holder using an empty can, some postage stamps and something like Modge Podge. It still sits on his desk. First class postage was 8 cents, Eisenhower and Johnson were recent presidents and the Alaska Purchase was having its centennial so it must have been around 1967/1968. I was 6 or 7 years old. Does that make me vintage or antique?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Holiday to All

Abundant Reason

And if this is not your holiday, have a great day!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shrimp Truck


I'd say this has to be one of those life is good moments. On the last day of my Hawaii trip I rented a car and circled the island of Oahu. I stopped along the day for a late lunch at one of several "shrimp trucks". These seemed to be some variation on the theme of a van converted into a small kitchen preparing fresh shrimp on site. I ordered garlic and butter shrimp and received 8 or so large shrimp with a side of noodle salad (not to my taste) and rice.

Truck menu and Graffiti

There was a light rain at the time but I ate at a picnic bench under an umbrella along with a few other families. For entertainment, we all got to watch a feral cat and her kitten beg for food and a local chicken with a dozen or so chicks wanted to share in the feast too.

Shrimp Shack Cat

Licking her chops after a shrimp tail

The mother cat got all of my shrimp tails while her baby nursed. The chickens partook of some rice grains which I figured were healthy enough.

Shrimp Shack Chicks

No fair! I made myself hungry just thinking of the shrimp. Too bad it is several thousand miles to the nearest shrimp truck.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Taste for Sausage?

Sausage Tree Postcard

Two weeks ago I posted some pictures of a "sausage tree." It took me nearly an hour to identify the tree as it was not a native of Hawaii where I saw it and I had no idea what it was. I jokingly named it a "hanging potato tree" which isn't all that different from its actual name.
A week later I stumbled across a postcard of the same tree in one of those small world moments. I guess now I'll be seeing hanging sausages wherever I look, especially when I'm hungry. Here is another one of my photos of the fruit and flowers of the tree.

Sausage Tree

For more postcards, visit Postcard Friendship Friday here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Family Planning

1941 Grand Canyon Postcard

Other possible titles include: "So Shoot Me Now" and "Between a Rock and a Hard Place"

We/I am trying to plan the latest family vacation. When the parents live 2000 miles away this can take some doing. The origins of the latest bright idea in bonding are complex. Last winter we flew in to Seattle in a blizzard to visit my family. The blizzard was unprecedented as it was in Seattle and not Chicago. At the end of the ordeal my father expressed a natural wish to "go somewhere warm next year."
My thought had been to go to Puerto Rico. It is relatively easy to get there (non-stops from Chicago) and passports are not required. Besides it is beautiful, exotic and the food is great. There the plan stood until a few weeks ago when my father searched the net and decided that Puerto Rico was actually relatively hard to reach from Seattle and a bit expensive. So he came up with the idea of Arizona. Nice and warm and relatively nearby, right?
True for the nearby part but my father also chose that we should visit the Arizona high desert. Guess what? It will be cold! The only advantage temperature-wise over Seattle will be tons of sunshine. Warm it won't be. Alas, I'll need to bring my usual winter gear--hat, gloves, long underwear, etc.
We all sort of agreed. By sort of, I mean my 12 year old didn't want to go at all and my husband lectured on how he'd rather take a short vacation and hang around at home.
This is where the "so shoot me now" begins. I asked my dad to set up the trip as I've been way too busy to spend much time figuring this all out. As an aside, you need to know that my father likes adventure travel, only without the danger. He's over 70 but you wouldn't guess it from the itinerary he presented. In two weeks, he had us planned to drive 1000 miles and make on the order of 8 overnight stops.
My husband and I found one point of consensus. We just cannot do this. 6 people in a minivan is bad enough but this is beyond our ability to handle.
There the consensus ends. My father is still wishful for his 1000 mile ordeal. My husband wants to basically shorten the trip by 5 -7 days and stay in one place for most of it. My 12 year old doesn't want to go which I'm ignoring but my husband thinks his opinion should be counted too. My college kid probably has an opinion and definitely wants to go but he's not in communication with us. Who knows what my father's wife thinks? I'm sure he does but the communication has been between the main travel planners, me and my dad.
Oh, and my husband leaves it all up to me except when he is telling me how stupid the whole thing is and how he doesn't really want to do it. And if the trip doesn't turn out well, guess whose fault it will be?
Anyone have a small vial of arsenic handy?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Red underbelly
The original of the photo that became the new header.

I finally had to add comment moderation. Somehow I am now on the spammer's wavelength and have been getting 10 or more spam comments a day versus hardly any over the last 4 years. Since I was playing around anyway, I finally updated my header. After 4 years of blogging it is about time, I stopped describing myself as flailing about looking for the purpose of the blog. From now on it is what it is. The blog can rest as my vacation-away-from-vacation.

"We climbed aboard their starship, we headed for the skies
come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me lads"

From the Styx.

Rescue Me


This photo made me think of the Carole King song--
"When you're down and troubled and you need a helping hand. . . ."

I did a quick Google search to double check the lyrics and stumbled across this too funny cartoon blog, by the name of Prozacville. Check it out. Really.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Red-Crested Cardinal in action

Originally uploaded by skron
After much ado, I've managed to post my first video. For more on this bird see the previous post.

Cardinal Grazing

Red-Crested Cardinal

A Red-Crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata) grazing in a park in Waikiki. These birds are quite showy and relatively common. They were introduced to Hawaii, like nearly every other bird I saw, this species around 1930.

Red-Crested Cardinal--2

For some wonderful photos of a similar cardinal and an overall great bird blog, check out 10,000 Birds!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Talk about jet lag!

Pacific Golden Plover

This little birdie is a Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva). It is a handsome bird but more notable is its migration behavior. This plover probably flew to Hawaii from his summer nesting place in Alaska and may have made the 2000 mile trip in a single non-stop flight. Take that United! I had to fly to Hawaii via Los Angeles. The good news is this bird is no longer endangered and was not introduced to Hawaii by mankind. It got there on its own two wings.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Hanging Potato Tree

Hanging Potato Tree

OK, it isn't really a hanging potato. But it sure looks like one. Anyone know what it actually is called? Posted below are some pictures of the flowers.
Actually after much ado I am adding to this post with the identification of the tree in question. I must have spent nearly an hour on Google searching images of trees from Hawaii.
Courtesy of the University of Hawaii website, I have discovered the following:
The tree is Kigelia africana, or the sausage tree. It comes from west Africa. Somehow it doesn't surprise me the tree is introduced. The island of Oahu seems to have trouble taking care of its native species. Most of the birds I saw were also introduced but that is for another post.
I am so relieved that mystery is solved.

Hanging Flowers

Red Flower and Green Grass

This post is being submitted to Festival of the Trees. Check them out and consider submitting your own tree thoughts.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Now and Then

Field Columbian Museum

My initial fascination with old postcards was to see how my city changed over time. Now I just like them.
Here is a 1906 view of the building that is now the Museum of Science and Industry.
Below is my 2007 photo of the same building although from a rather different perspective. It hasn't changed much in the past 100 years.

Museum of Science and Industry

To visit Postcard Friendship Friday click on this link.


Amazing Bags

I'm taking a break from processing my Hawaii photos to share a project I just completed. It is a lot of fun to do and takes maybe two hours to complete. Plus you get rid of waste plastic bags. What could be better.
Basically you cut up plastic bags--the kind that we shouldn't be using anyway--layer them, and iron them into a heavier material. It takes round 4 bags per layer. The resulting material feels a bit like Tyvek (the stuff used for mailing envelopes) and sews well. I've seen a couple of patterns to turn them into tote bags.
I made the first one a few months ago and it really works, so I made a second of slightly different dimensions. It was fun picking out the bags that would make for an interesting end product.

Bag Lady

I read somewhere that maybe the fumes of the fusing plastic bags are bad for you. I don't know although they don't smell much and I figure that in the grand scheme of the toxins we are exposed to (after all I've stripped paint) it can't be all that bad.
I'm listing one craft book that gives instructions for this bag but I think things can be found on the internet as well. If you try it, have fun.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Heron fishing

Seen fishing at hotel in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


On the beach

My last full day in Hawaii, I made a circle tour of the island of Oahu. There is a bit of the coast which is not completely accessible by car--beats me why they didn't finish off the road, for some reason it reminds me of the bridge to nowhere--but I felt a sense of accomplishment for having circled an entire island. The total distance was around 120 miles. The hardest part of the trip was resisting stopping at every beach I passed.

Surfing 1

At the tail end of my tour I passed the famous surfing area. I couldn't resist pulling off to see what all the fuss was about. I'm not a big fan of surfing but, man, those were some big waves. It was great fun to watch with a bit of that morbid curiosity that makes people secretly hope for a wreck at a car race. I'm not an ocean wimp since I lived half my life near the Pacific Ocean but let me tell you, that surf was scary. I wouldn't have even gotten my feet wet in water that wild.
Almost as cool as the surfers were the camera-men. There was some amazing glass there. I had only my 100mm lens so my pictures leave a bit to be desired but it was a great challenge to see what I could do. Here are some of my pictures.

Surfing 2