Category Archives: Amazing
Happy Birthday, Abner! Thanks for bringing so much awesomeness into my life! :-) Here’s to the next visa and the next stamp in our passports…
So I had a few hours to “waste” yesterday. I dug out my handy dandy ION slide and negative scanner, and starting me some scanning.
Here’s one from 1982 of one of my besties, Kevin, and me, on the great wall of China…wearing Mao hats so that we could be like a billion Chinese people, cuz back in 1982 pretty much everyone in China wore a Mao hat…
A redunant name for a beautiful hiking trail in the foothills of Los Angeles. “A place so beautiful, they named it twice”. I went back “home” to the L.A. area for the Easter weekend. Phil and the kids and I headed out on Monday morning to find the trailhead. The trail we were seeking leads to a waterfall, as all of the hikes I go on with them do. This waterfall was along the Gold Creek.
The book we were using as our guide was published in the 80′s, so sometimes the directions are hit or miss. This one was a HIT! The only “glitch” was that the sign we were looking for which would lead to the trailhead was missing on the way. When we turned around to look from the other direction, there it was, and once we found it the directions were spot on.
We hiked in about 2 1/2 miles up (and 2 1/2 miles back, which is good, it’s always good to hike out as far as you’ve hiked in!) on a well maintained trail which completely lacked any evidence of human presence…no trash, no graffiti, no dog poop….barely even shoeprints in the softer areas.
We forded the stream a number of the times on the way there, but didn’t even get our feet wet. I was a bit worried to be hiking since I jacked my right knee up back in December, but it held up nicely. I was very careful about foot placement and avoiding any pivoting on it. I tell you this just to show that the hike, though not totally easy, was doable even for the gimp in the group. (So you could do it, too!) The hike took us through lush green woods along paths liberally decorated with itty bitty wildflowers. This purple beauty measured less than an inch across. Didn’t even see the teensy weensy red bugs crawling around until I uploaded my pictures!
And it took us through more poison oak than any of us had ever seen in our lives! Phil and at least a couple of his kids are really prone to getting horrific rashes from it and warnings rang out frequently about avoiding touching it! (And upon arriving home, all clothes were stripped and washed, and showers were taken, it was that bad!) I haven’t heard if any of them broke out or not, but Richard was already sporting some nasty rashes from his LAST excursion into the wilderness.
Back to the hike. We came around one bend and found ourselves in a manzanita forest. Manzanita is a bush that is found in the chaparrel biome. Manzanita is spanish for “little apple”, I guess because the seeds look alot like little apples. The trunk and branches are a deep rosey red, and they are smooooooooth and satiny. Any way, these were huge TREES! Never seen anything like it. Phil shows how tall the bushes usually are. The trunks were so thick you couldn’t get your arms around them.
The trail led us to something I can only describe as a CLIFF. Rocks jutting out high over a small canyon. Richard loves to rock climb. I am afraid of heights. He decided to pick his way down to the canyon. I wanted to take a picture of him doing it, but couldn’t get close enough to the edge to do that, so I took a picture of him disappearing through a crack in the CLIFF. Bye Richard. I hope I see you again!
He took the short way down, we took the long way down, and we met back up at the bottom.
The last bit of the hike was a little steep and the dirt a bit loose, but when when we rounded the last corner before the waterfall, we entered a little bitty paradise! The cataract measured about 50 feet tall and tumbled into a small, clear pool.
There was a large sycamore tree at the edge of the pool which had a high green and lacy canopy. The canopy provided shade and showed off a brilliant blue sky above it. Off came shoes and socks! The bottom of the pool was firm and sandy/pebbly. But boy oh, the water was cold! Of course I orchestrated one of my famous foot pictures, but I couldn’t stand being in the water for more than a minute or so.
My feet are wimpy because they have spent all winter in shoes (and I just got a pedicure further removing any protective toughened skin!). But Jonathan’s feet suffered no such wimpiness. This kid was swimming in that cold water!
Head to toe wet. Brrrrr.
We played and laughed for a time and decided this would be a great place for a picnic. Plenty of large flat rocks to serve as a picnic table. I don’t know if we got lucky that day having the place to ourselves, or if it is a little visited place. I wonder if we went back in the summer for that picnic if there would be a horde of people vying for the best seats on the rocks!
Time to put our shoes back on and go.
A hidden place which seemed to have been created, at least for that day, just for us!
For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills…Deuteronomy 8:7 (NIV)
Some of the best times of my life are spent exploring God’s creation with my big brother and his kids.
This past weekend I did something that was one part rock, one part water, one part mist, one part heat, one part cold, one part darkness, one part light, and 1/100th part creepy. There were some other parts in their, too, but I think these reflect the most important ones.
I spent the holiday weekend in Utah, in the Heber Valley area. Dotting the landscape were columns of whispy steam rising in the crisp winter cold. These whisps were emanating from rounded mounds of what appeared to be snow covered earth. But which turned out to be rock.
BAD picture quality, but its the best one I got!
These mounds are Hot Pots. Formed over the eons by heated water bubbling up from underground lakes, as the water would overflow the minerals within it would eventually form a mounded “crust”. The visible mounds surrounded small bodies of this heated water. One local entrepreneur blasted a hole in a rather large mound which was located on his property. This hole was blasted at the base of the mound and extended hundreds of feet through the rock into the interior of the mound. This provided easy access to the fresh smelling mineral rich waters within.
Becky and Bill entering the mound…
Inside the mound there is a place to remove outer clothing and to don a life jacket. Down the tunnel all you can see is mist. In warmer weather the air is clear, but the mist adds a wonderful and ethereal quality to the space! As you enter the mist the water comes into view. Dimly lit from below by a few lights, it dances green and warm. A small hazy shaft of light comes down from above through a small natural vent at the top of the mound.
The water below is 45 feet across in each direction, and extends 65 feet deep. Though it is 20 degrees outside, it is warm inside. The water remains fairly constantly 94-97 degrees. And it gets warmer the deeper you swim.
Becky, Susi, and Bill warming in the seated area before entering the swimming area
We shared our swim with scuba divers who come to get their certification, usually for a winter vacation to somewhere warm. What a great place to get excellent diving experience. I will admit that the when these divers swim underneath you that the bubbles which arise from the bottom of the little warm lake can be a bit disconcerting, and creepy feeling when you aren’t expecting them. It is mostly dark down in the water and it’s easy to imagine monsters and slimy things reaching up from the deep to grab unsuspecting bathers! We were assured however, that these waters do not support any life.
There are some of these warm lakes which haven’t formed the mound yet and are open and free to the public. When we first decided to get warm and wet, we weighed the option of using one of these random free ponds or pay to go in the big hot pot. “Free is good” was my initial response. But when we arrived at the location, we had to drive through mud to get there, and the pond was filled with what looked like possibly naked, maybe beer swilling local types with the requisite hound running around. And since it was outside and not surrounded by the mound, it looked wicked cold!!! “Free is good, but sometimes paying is better” became the new mantra.
It was worth the $10 bucks admission, that’s for sure.
A dreamy little vacation within a vacation!
I attempted to find more information on the pots to share here, but there is very little to be found. Not even a Wikipedia entry, which surprised me!
In the end, if you ever find yourself in the Heber Valley part of Utah, make sure you add this to your list of things you must do. The pay to enter Hot Pot is at the Homestead Resort. Check out the website. Click on “The Crater” for more info and a few more pics. Call and ask for the activities desk to make reservations. You won’t be sorry! And you should stay at the Invited Inn while you are there. It’s a fabulous little swiss style B&B with the most delightful proprieters (Bill and Susie, pictured above in the hot pot.) More on this lovely Inn in a post to follow.
As I drove away from my home on my way to a meeting, I was surprised to see a spectacle in the sky that I had no idea was going to be there…
A crescent moon flanked by a huge and super bright Venus and a smaller and yet still very bright Jupiter suspended over the mountains in a completely clear night sky
I hear that we won’t see that again until 2050. Which means I probably won’t live to see it again. I wish I’d had a telescope. I also wish I’d had a camera.
Nonetheless, what a wonderful and gorgeous surprise!
I dragged the people at my meeting out to see it. Within half an hour the view was obscured by clouds.
Did you get to see it where you are?
I hope so.
My friend Shawn sent this to me. It’s a truly amazing look at how quickly things are changing and how huge the changes are!
I’d like to welcome you to my home! This was it this past summer in Malawi. Some nights I almost couldn’t wait to crawl inside it and curl up on my air mattress and soak in the night sounds. In Zambia two years it ago, it was soooo cold at night that I dreaded “lights out”. This year, despite being the neighbor to the east of Zambia, the Malawi nights were relatively warm. Perhaps this was due to the proximity to Lake Malawi?
Despite its relatively small size, I was still able to often lose fairly important articles inside of it. I lost my toothbrush once for almost a week. You can’t just run down to the store to buy a new one, ya know? I finally had the time to tear everything apart and find it, but by then the brush and interior of the case had mildewed. Pretty gross. So, what do you do? You pop it into a pot of boiling hot water! Good as new…almost. (ew)
Even though I was very comfortable at night I often did not sleep much. If I got five hours of sleep I felt pretty lucky (this from a 9 or 10 hour a night sleeper). Since I didn’t have much time to myself during the days, I decided to embrace my sleeplessness and enjoy the nighttime “solitude” in my little home. I would spend the hours thinking, remembering, planning, and praying. It’s funny where one’s brain goes when one is lying awake on top of an air mattress and sleeping bag listening to the distant waves of a lake on the shore with the bright African moon illumunating brightly when one is in the uttermost part of the earth…I’d get flight of ideas and wonder…
…how well would I be sleeping if my cat was here with me…(and then I’d miss her)…
…will anyone puke tonight?…(and I’d pray not)…
…are the dogs in my “kitchen” again?…(and if they are, did I prepare well enough so they couldn’t rob me?)…
…are those REALLY waves I’m hearing?…
…if he has Aspberger’s…(or what?)…
…when the propane tank is going to run out, again…
…why the dusk malaria mosquitos are so small and the dawn dengue mosquitos SO HUGE…
…how much more food can I buy with the money I have left “in the food account”… and will there be anything more than sugar, tomatos, yams, oil, and eggs to be bought next time?…
…how it is possible that it’s going to be three years already since Connie died…(and then I’d miss her, too)
I would pray for whatever and whoever showed up in my mind and eventually I would drift off to sleep. Occasionally I would dream. But every morning, when I unzipped my tent and crawled out, I was met with the most brilliant skies reflecting off the lake and I’d forget how tired I was and I’d wrap myself in the beauty and wildness of it all. And I’d wonder what I ever did to deserve this amazing life God had given to me…
Click HERE to read my sister’s latest blog entry and see what a six-year-old kid does who wants a DS but isn’t going to get one!
I really DO love Photo Friday. It’s the only thing I seem to be able to post on these days. I’ve got dozens of drafts started about my summer experiences, but still am unable to get them the way I want them. Some of them are simply Titles at this point.
So, having just recently returned from Africa, I thought it fitting to share pics of some wildlife I saw while I was there. These were taken “on safari” in the Liwonde National Park in Malawi. Oddly, I don’t love very many pictures that I took this summer. I do, however, love this one. Not because it’s a great picture or anything – far from it. No, I love it because there are four species captured in the one frame. The hippo, heron, and impala are easily visible, but do you see the warthogs as well?
Did you know that members of different hippo pods have different “highways” that they each use? I didn’t. And hippos of one pod do not use the highways of hippos of different pods! The things you learn when you are on safari!
And here’s one of a warthog upclose. Seems there was a warthog “highway” right in front of our chalet at the safari camp!
The yellow at the bottom of the photo? Normally I would have cropped that out. It was my front porch. I left in in as a reference to the proximity of the trail to our accommodations. This highway was actually a hippo highway as well. This was one reason we were all strongly warned to never leave our chalets alone, and to stay on the people pathways. Those hippos were loud at night, too! You couldn’t have PAID me to leave my chalet after dark, even if I wasn’t alone! Even if I had one of the armed guard with me. Hippos are some scary creatures!
More on our safari weekend in a later post…IF I can ever get the post to feel right!
Click on the links to visit the entries of the other participants! Drop them a comment and let them know what you think. There are new participants since I left for Africa. A big hearty and belated welcome to them!
Here’s what’s coming up on Photo Friday in the weeks ahead…
Photo Friday Advance Diary:
22nd August: Julie’s choice - “Hat Day” (a picture of someone’s hat, that’s funny, pretty, or a self-portrait of us wearing our favorite or funny hat)
29th August: Mrs Nascar’s choice – Old cars (any interesting old cars from rusty scrapheap cars with a bird’s nest under the bonnet, to fabulous vintage or racing cars)
(click above for more information)
Today’s Photo Friday entry is entitled: Amazing Architecture © Jan Marshall
As much as I love nature and all the beauty that is just because it IS, I love the beauty of the things that man creates just as much. Man (and by that I mean humankind) was created in the image of its maker, and part of being created in His image includes the ability to create as well. Out of God’s creation of rock, wood, metal, and sand, one of the things man creates is architecture. The interpretation of a floor, walls, and a ceiling is as varied as the birds of the air. Shacks and cathedrals, skyscrapers and lighthouses, cottages and castles, pyramids and soddies, forts and obelisks. No other creature in all of creation exhibits the ability to never have to build the same thing twice as they are driven to do so by instinct. Birds of a feather always build the same nest. People never do. Even the most mundane tract homes each have their own individuality. But man doesn’t only build homes. Man builds all kinds of structures because he CAN and because he WANTS to. And man can build things that last, some times for millenia. Since taking digital pictures is till fairly new to me, most of my favorite architectural pictures are still 35 mm prints or even worse, they are SLIDES! But I found a few pictures I thought would do nicely for this challenge.
This is the Gallarus Oratory in Dingle, Ireland. Believed to have been erected for use as a church, it was built in the 6th century and is mortarless! It is also very small. Even a short person must duck to enter the doorway. It is watertight and has amazingly remained unchanged, stone upon stone, for 1500 years.
In about 480 B.C. the Greeks erected a Doric temple in Syracuse, Sicily. Some of those pillars remained after the temple was destroyed and were incorporated into the wall of the Syracuse Cathedral at an unknown point in time. The cathedral was named the Cathedral of Syracuse (Sicily, Italy) in 680 A.D., so this building, too, has been around a LONG time! The first photo is of the front of the cathedral. The second is of the interior wall of the left nave which amazingly incorporated pillars from the original temple.
Finally, because I wanted to include a picture that I took specifically for this post, this past weekend while in Denver I took the opportunity to look around at the many varying architectural structures there. This building caught my eye as it was very ungainly and looked completely out of place in its surroundings. I cropped it down to focus on the lines and shadows, which I actually thought were quite amazing. The elements? Lovely. The overall concept and location? Ugly! (Incidentally, I have no idea what this building is used for).
As per the usual, I will add the links to the other participant’s work as they are posted.
Please come back to check those links out!
Anyone else still wants to play this week, do so! Friday lasts until midnight, wherever you live!
Next week’s challenge? “Photographic Art”.
One hundred and forty six days ago Larry was airlifted from his home to a local hospital in critical condition.
“If he even survives, he’ll be in the hospital for at least six months recovering”.
MIRACULOUSLY, Larry got to go home last night after 146 days in the hospital. He’s still recuperating and has a continued long recovery ahead of him, but his mind is all there, and he has come so far.
“The man who lived” is what I’ve heard he’s been called at the hospital…
Welcome home Larry. Can’t wait to see you back at small group with us!
Thanking God for returning you to all of us.
I thought I needed to do something more divergent for this entry than I did for my last entry. Siesta is the spanish word for “nap”. So then, I thought I would post on something that incorporated ”spanish” and “nap”.
And OF COURSE, the “Momias de Guanajuato” came to mind. Isn’t that what came to YOUR mind???
Some years ago I was invited to my friend Manuel’s wedding which would take place in central Mexico. In the state of Aguascalientes, to be more specific. Central Mexico is very unlike the border towns of Mexico that I was familiar with. Many of the towns are reminiscent of colonial Europe. We visited the capital city of Guanajuato as well. The city, also named Guanajuato, is a wonderful place. Guanajuato has no stop lights or neon signs. The streets are winding and often narrow and cobblestoned. There is a system of hundreds of years old underground brick and stone tunnels which snake beneath the city and help move traffic around unseen. There are large plazas, beautiful cathedrals and theaters and parks. Up on a hill is a massive stone figure named “el pipila” which overlooks the entire city. (As I write and look through my scrapbook from this trip, I can see that I am going to need to post more in the future on this subject.)
One of the things this city is famous for is its “Momias”, or mummies, including the smallest mummies in the world. We decided we must see the place and take a gander at the curiously preservered dead.
Weird. Very weird. Seems the location/soil conditions and weather where these people were buried were just perfect for the making of mummies without any preparation of the bodies. In some cases the bodies would be mummified within just a handful of years from interment.
Here are a few of the mummies at the museum. The pictures are not all that great as
1) flash photography was not allowed, and
2) these are digital photographs of 35 mm print originals. But here they are nonetheless!
Look at the preservation of this man’s skin!
Some of the mummies were clothed, some not. Some were just in shoes and socks.
This little one is called “la momia mas pequena del mundo”, or the world’s smallest mummy. She and her mother both died during a C-section.
This postcard is rather irreverant, don’t you think?
So, there you have it. Final slumber in Mexico…
Not your average siesta!
Click HERE to visit Lady Luck’s blog for more entries in her meme, Photo Friday!
Ever watched the show “Mythbusters“? I catch it every once in awhile. The mythbusters explore, and try to prove or debunk (bust, if you will) “myths”. Some they prove, others they debunk. I’ve always wanted them to take a look into a particular thing you see on TV and in movies. That is how people who are being shot at and take refuge in water don’t get fatally wounded.
There was a part of me that thinks “hogwash”. How can water be that bullet proof? But then there was a part of me that thinks, “or CAN it?”. I caught a recent episode of “Mythbusters” where they put this bullet proof water stunt to the test.
I was more than shocked at the results!
What did I learn? If I’m ever being shot at, I’m looking for the nearest body of water!
Shooting into water at an angle of 23 degrees you need to only be two feet under and three feet away to survive being shot at, even by something as big as a .50 caliber weapon! Most of the bullets would disintegrate into a handful of shrapnel on water impact and fall harmlessly to the bottom. Have you ever SEEN a 50 caliber weapon? Here’s one for your perusal!
Click HERE to see one of these impressive weapons!
As impressive as the gun is, take a gander at the ammunition!!!
Click HERE to see the size of these monster bullets! The .50 caliber is on the left.
(FYI, the other bullets shown in this picture were also used in the experiment in their respective guns, and failed just like the .50 caliber).
The weapon that did the best, was the 9mm handgun. Who knows why. But even so, that bullet barely penetrated the ballistic gel and would not have caused much damage to the swimming fleeing individual who was the intended target.
Pretty amazing, really. I wonder if it’s because of the surface tension of the water, or what! Anyone out there know????
Is it just me? Is it because I’m getting older? Or does time seem like it’s speeding up to anyone else???
Today 2007 enters the realm of “memories”. It was another amazing year for me. Another amazingly good chapter in my life, for the most part. There’s some punctuation in there that was amazing, too, but not in the sense that on the surface you’d call “good amazing”. But here’s the way I look at it…without punctuation, you’re not sure when to pause and take a breath, or stop, before moving on to the next sentence. Even though punctuation of life might be painful, or uncomfortable, it guides me.
Have you ever heard of the book “Eats, Shoots, And Leaves“? The title comes from incorrectly punctuating the sentence about the Panda’s eating habits. Which would be ”eats shoots and leaves”. Punctuation matters.
I embrace my life’s punctuation. I try to let my puncutation help my sentences make better sense, and to give greater meaning to my life’s paragraphs and chapters.
I’m looking forward to 2008. Not because I’m glad to see 2007 leave, but because I’m looking forward to the gifts and blessings that 2008 will bring, punctuation and all.
May your 2008 be blessed and full. And may your life not be overly punctuated!!
Happy New Year!
“By day, I sell mobile phones… My dream is to spend my life doing what I feel I that I was born to do.”
Paul Potts, unassuming cell phone salesman in the UK goes on one of those American Idol type TV talent shows, “Britain’s Got Talent”. It even has Simon Cowell on it.
Paul says he’s there to sing opera. In that Simon is a part of this show, I’m sort of expecting a blood bath. All the judges sort of have this look on their faces like they’re struggling to not roll their eyes and/or giggle amongst themselves.
“Confidence has always been sort of like a difficult thing for me.”
Did you see Simon go a little slack-jawed?
“All my life I’ve felt insignificant.”
Paul goes on to win the competition. (Click HERE to see his website.) Simon Cowell signed him. His album “One Chance” has sold a million copies. He credits his wife for getting him out there and for helping him get enough confidence to actually apply.
As the world says good-bye to a schoolteacher who couldn’t suppress his love of music, it says hello to a mobile phone salesman who somehow dug up the confidence to pursue HIS dream of opera. I think Pavarotti would have loved the story of Paul Potts.
One last thing…Paul did not quit his day job. He still sells mobile phones.
Google “may I have this dance”, but leave out the quotation marks. You’ll get 83,600,000 results.
Today the number 8 result is my post of the same name from October 11th.
I’ll never understand how search engines work.
Update: It’s two days later, and now my post is result number 10…