Saturday, July 31, 2010

Staying Healthy

Mothers want their children to stay healthy. And it doesn't much matter how old their "children" might be... the mother of one of the Multiple Myeloma bloggers I follow submitted this link to her daughter - - and all I can say is, it's well worth the cost of a bar of soap to stay on top of the toxic things that are put in your shampoo, conditioner, shaving creams, eye solutions, cosmetics and other things applied from head to toe(s).

We leave tomorrow to drive to Arizona, so this has to be short. The picture above is of my grandchildren coming face-to-face with a Komodo dragon at the Denver Zoo yesterday. You can just see the dragon in the far right. It was a lovely, but rather hot, day.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Walking through Body World

There has been a lot of radio discussion that I have heard about Body World exhibitions, or similar kinds of shows of preserved human bodies. I considered that I was lucky to be able to attend the presentation at the Denver Nature & Science Museum yesterday. Here is a link to a Student Guide which answers a lot of questions before going to the exhibit. We were not allowed to take photographs (or chew gum???) upon entering, and it was a marvelous, educational, respectful presentation of our physical bodies. I was guiding a 6.5 year old, two 9 year olds and a nearly 12 year old through and they were mostly fascinated, curious, and amazed.... like me.

The detail of the circulatory system, for the non-medical anatomical studiers, caused us all to gape and read the posted instructional information - did you know that if all the veins, arteries and capillaries were linked end-to-end they could reach around the world at least twice - for the average adult?

Did you know that the heart pumps the equivalent of 8,500 gallons of blood through the system? I would go and see this exhibit again if I could go alone. But it was worth it seeing the children developing a new respect for the bodies that should carry them into adulthood.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Flying to Denver and walking around

I had a beautiful flight to Denver with no major hiccups, and the little baby in the seat ahead of me only cried as we were landing.

It was after 9 p.m. as we were arriving and this was the last shot of the sunset I could get before we touched down.... quite lovely.

We had been warned by the captain that the temperature in Denver was over 90 degrees, but still it was a shock after all the cool days and nights in the NW. I wanted to take off my sweater, but I already had enough baggage to deal with, so I left it on, and panted heavily from both the altitude exertion and the heat.

The Mile High City gets its nickname from being over a mile high in altitude, 5700 feet more or less, I guess. It is always hard for me to sleep - even though I do drink plenty of water ahead of time and once I arrive - because I feel so out-of-breath.

But after a few days I acclimate and can manage to walk several miles without as much breathlessness. So we gathered up all the children and headed off to a local eatery and this was the view on the residential streets as we ambled along.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Murder of Crows

"When two or more are gathered together..." they are called a "murder of crows." If you have a bunch of geese, they are called "a gaggle of geese." I forget what this phraseology is called right at the moment, but I felt like doing some serious damage to these insistent avian visitors to the formerly peaceful garden I was enjoying. They, on the other hand, were making a lot of noise, together and separately as you can see from the open beaks.

I am only guessing, but the cherries are in full ripeness now and there seems to be quite a bit of competition from the robins and the crows as to who is going to get the reddest one. I watched a robin carry a large piece of the fruit over to the shadows where it put the cherry down and pecked at it unobserved for a moment. Then suddenly it had to do a 'grab and go' as these much bigger bullies showed up.

The noise was too much so I left for the Mukilteo Farmer's Market down at Lighthouse Park. On another day I will take some time to investigate the lighthouse itself, but amazingly it was already mid-afternoon, and I didn't want to miss out on the fresh fruits and vegetables.

Here are some shots of the market, some of the organic food and the lighthouse. Don't those onions look delicious?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Van Gosh

This photo was pretty good all by itself, but I decided to play around with it, changing the contrast, the exposure and a few other elements. When I was done with it, I thought to myself, "It has a sort of Van Gogh intensity to it now." But I also noticed that the entities on the docks got their heads a little warped by the changes so they look more like aliens who are enjoying the setting sun... oh well. Weigh in on your impressions, please.... pun intended.

This was taken at the Mukilteo ferry landing a few days ago and the wind from the NW was brutal! I was smart enough to have a few layers in the car, but I noticed others were turning as blue as the water as the temperature dropped. But it is great temperature for sleeping under a quilt - I am not fond of those nights when the humidity and temperature are only a few degrees away from each other.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Memories

A blogger caregiver for someone with MM sent me a picture of the Wellfleet sand dunes on Cape Cod after I commented on her blog about having spent a childhood summer there. Seeing the photo (above), I was reminded of many images of that summer.

As I recall, I was about 9 or 10 years old. So I would have been under five feet in height, which probably explains why the dunes seem so immense in my memory. Looking at this shot, possibly taken near where the rental house we stayed in was located, I can see that the 60 or so feet is still big. According to the photo supplier, however, they are eroding and changing causing houses to fall down. So perhaps the house seen at the top is now the one we were in, now considerably closer to the edge than it was 50 years ago.

50! Years! Omigosh!

I cannot quite realize that I can talk in terms of multiple decades of living now. A half-century of life, sometimes well-lived. Oh, I digress from that summer... let's say it was 1954 or so. My father and mother were still married, although the storm clouds of divorce were on the horizon and there was evidence of my mother's infidelity with us that summer, though I didn't recognize the cute little girl everyone called "your sister" as that proof then.

With the lifting of the morning fog off the Atlantic and the warming of the sand, my older brother, my younger brother and I would all slide down the dunes (against parental advice, of course) not appreciating our contribution to the erosion in those halcyon days. We would then run from one end of the beach to another, building forts, tormenting each other and our new-made friends until lunchtime when my mother might appear with a picnic. Otherwise it was necessary to climb the steps.

Days ran into each other, and on the weekend, my father appeared from his work to endure two days with his brood and his less-than-welcoming wife. Some years ago I had occasion to ask my mother her impressions about that summer. She proclaimed it a torture to be stuck at the end of the Cape in a rental house with three children under 12 and a teen-aged boy. I did not discuss with her my theories of why she might have felt that way. What is odd is that I know she was there physically, but my memories do not re-create her well for that time period. Instead I see myself attending to the toddler, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for us all, and recalling one minor disaster.

It was on the weekend as I recall, because my rescuer was my father. We were having a cookout outside the rental house and marshmallows followed for dessert. I was curious if a lit marshmallow could illuminate a dark closet, so I took it on a stick inside and went into the broom closet. Yes... a lit marshmallow can illuminate a dark broom closet - and the broom - and a bunch of other things, including my hair and eyebrows. I was lucky not to be severely burned and to not have illuminated all of the tip of Cape Cod with the rental house! My father heard my screams, came running, and doused me, the broom, the closet and then comforted me when I wailed that I was a miserable child for being so unthinking after being accused of being a 'firebug.'

Probably it was our last weekend there as I don't have much of a memory for further forays on the dunes. I thank Ann for sending me the photo and for stirring up the time machine pot.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Living Dangerously

Yesterday, the first day when the sun started out shining and went on doing it all day long, I decided to actually "sunbathe!" Although sun is a known risk for a variety of ailments this was not the dangerous part of my day.
I have recently moved into a very cute basement apartment in a town near where I was living before and since it is part of a couple's house, I am totally blessed with a lovely backyard garden which is populated by a number of robins and crows. I have seen a few other birds, but these are the dominant species.
The house, seen from the front at the top of this blog, is on the western edge of Puget Sound, north of Seattle. You say the name of the town this way: moo-kill-tee-oh and it's spelled like this: Mukilteo. One of the treats for this new area is that as I drive to and from their home (and my new digs) I find the views are spectacular, even on a grey day. Lots of flowers, lots of high-end dwelling units, and I do not have hundreds of people living beside, behind, above and below me.

So what was the dangerous part of the day? Well, as I was lying on the grass, half of me in the sun and half in the mottled shade, looking up through the cherry tree, I noticed one of several robins tugging on the fruit. Suddenly, "bombs aaaawayyyy!" And a cherry dropped right on top of me, followed by another 'gift' which I managed to avoid.

And here is one of the offenders, who was listening for sounds in the ground. Later I saw it merrily pulling away at a rather large-sized earthworm which was carried off to a nest in the fir tree next to the driveway.

It is so peaceful here and now that we are starting to have some summer, it is really much more enjoyable than it has been for several weeks. I leave you with this somewhat hazy view of Puget Sound... more to come!