Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year 2014

I hope your celebration of Jesus' birth was good.  I celebrated with the East Coast children and their families.  On Christmas Eve, we phoned all the other members of our immediate family in Seattle Washington, San Diego California and in Tucson AZ.  Each family member lit a candle and shared their wish for 2014.  It was a very moving and uplifting experience.

Above is a picture of birds at the feeder on a cold, blustery December day.  I really wasn't prepared for the cold, cold days with 15 and 16 degree days.  There's more snow coming later this week,

On the 20th, my sister and I took Metro North to New York City to see the Christmas decoration.  We visited St. Patrick's Cathedral.  We made our way through the restoration areas to the main altar pictured below.

St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York NY

 Then, on to Rockefeller Center to see the tree (shown below).  Surprisingly, the area, while crowded, wasn't too crowded.  I love the hustle and bustle of the City, but not when it's overcrowded.


We had lunch at Cucina & Co. in the Met Life Building.   I've been there several times and certainly recommend this restaurant.  Then on to the Empire State Building and took a photo of Lower New York City from the 86th floor Observation Deck (pictured below).


It was a very enjoyable day.  However, as the afternoon came to a close, I wasn't feeling well.  When I arrived home, I went to bed early.  The next morning, I was totally done in and had to cancel my lunch date with my friend, Katie. The rest of that day, as well as the next, was spent in bed.


 It is my prayer that you have 
a Happy and Healthy New Year 2014

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Cold and Snowy Weekend

 
 
 
This past week with the low temperatures and then, the snowfall on Saturday reminded me of why I love San Diego.  Since I'm not used to the cold weather any more, I have been wearing four layers of clothing.  However, Christmas with the East Coast family makes it all worthwhile.
 
Despite the cold, I ventured out to meet family and friends.  As I drove through Poughkeepsie two days after a light snow storm, I noticed how bleek and dismal everything looked.  Usually, the first snow is glistening and beautiful.  It reminded me again of why I love San Diego....no ice, no snow.  Other than that, I enjoyed the warmth of my Fishkill daughter's home.  On Friday, as a Christmas present, my daughters and granddaughters took me to Carnegie Hall in New York City to hear Handel's Messiah performed by the Cecilia Chorus of New York.  For three years I've wanted to attend the performance.  A wonderful friend is a member of the Chorus.  Even though I've known her for years, I only learned on Friday that she is a soprano.  The Concert was very enjoyable.   The vocalists and the orchestra were excellent and the acoustics of that Hall is quite impressive. Well worth attending a concert there.
 
Before the concert, we had dinner at Serafina Broadway on West 55th Street.  For an appetizer we shared Buffalo Mozzarella and the Bruschetta.  Very good options.  My daughters enjoyed Rigatona alla Bolognese.  I ordered Nonna's Mashed Potato.  I needed something to warm me up.  I tasted a small amount of the Rigatona, which was good.  In my opinion though, it just wasn't as good as the mashed potatoes....delish.  I certainly recommend this restaurant.
 
After the concert, we walked across 56th Street to view the store windows along Fifth Avenue.  My younger teenage granddaughter wanted to see The Plaza.  Then we walked down the Avenue to see the Rockefeller Center tree.  The same granddaughter remarked on how crowded the streets were at that time.  The elder teen was accustomed to the City so she wasn't phased by the amount of people.  Christmas in New York can be a wonderful experience.
 
Thankfully, the snow didn't come until Saturday morning.  I elected to stay in the house for the next two days.  We helped my daughter take down her Christmas decorations from the attic and put up her live Christmas tree.  That night,  I was able to sleep on a couch in the living room across from the warm wood stove.    
 
Because I haven't adjusted well to the low temperatures, I am posting only one picture at this time.  I was able to lean out my daughter's back door and snap the picture of the male Northern Cardinal.  Hopefully, a time goes on I'll get more pictures.  Tomorrow we will have 2 to 4 inches of snow.  My Cardiff daughter and her husband sent me walking sticks for the snow, so maybe I'll venture out tomorrow.
 
 
 
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Today's Activities

After rain, sleet and some snow over night, we left early this morning for Belleayre Mountain in the Catskill Mountains in New York.  We left later than expected, since the weather report stated that Orange County received more of the storm than we did in Dutchess County (NY).  It was the first snow of the year for me.  There had been an lighter snow fall earlier in the season, but I was told it wasn't much of anything.


On the Road to Belleayre Mountain

 

After leaving my grandson at the mountain, we turned around and proceeded to Wappingers Falls to root for my son-in-law who was running in the Knights of Columbus Holiday Run.  We whooped and hollered for each of the runners as they crossed the finish line.  Armed with special hot coffees from Starbucks to ward off the cold, we enjoyed doing this.  Congratulations to all the participants for a five mile run with a long uphill finish.

Village of Wappingers Falls, NY

The rest of the day was filled with regular errands.  Still it was a great day.

 
 
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

What a Week

Unfortunately, due to a tragic Metro-North train accident in New York, my daughters and one of their husbands had to find alternate ways to get to work.

Due to expected parking problems, I drove with my daughters and one of their husbands to the Southeast train station in Brewster and back to Beacon at night.  Driving to this station added one-half hour to their already long commute.  Yesterday, the MTA had succeeded in opening one track. So last evening, my whole family returned to their regular train route from Grand Central Station in New York north to Beacon.

When I drove with them in the mornings, on the way back to Beacon, I stopped for breakfast at the Eveready Diner in Brewster, New York at Exit 19 on Route 84.  The staff was very pleasant and friendly, and the food is good.  I recommend that you try it out when you are in the area.  It is only one of the Eveready Diners.  I had visited the Eveready Diner in Hyde Park, NY on several occasions and enjoyed it.  The waiter advised me that there is another one in Rhinebeck, NY.

I think that everyone is glad to resume their normal routine. 


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Monday, December 2, 2013

Busy Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend was certainly a busy one, but very enjoyable.  On Wednesday, my granddaughter made the pies while I peeled the apples.  My daughter cooked the turkey which was very moist.  I made my sweet potato casserole, but as I became engaged in conversation my granddaughter added the marshmallows at the right time.  My dinner consisted of a tiny bit of turkey and a little mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Delish.... The dinner on Thursday with the family went by very quickly ending with an unplanned card game while watching "The Heat" with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.  A half sandwich of turkey and cranberry sauce was just the snack I needed at the end of the day.

I was so happy to see my Marine grandson, now a Lance Corporal.  Haven't seen him since April.  Looking forward to seeing him at Christmas.  Looking good.  He's happy to be a US Marine.  He graciously took the time to play cards with his grandmother.

Friday's excursion was a trip to the mall with my daughter and granddaughter to meet her other grandmother.  We missed the early morning crowd.  Our visit, though not purposely planned, seemed to be sandwiched between the busiest times.  I am not a crowd lover so this was perfect for me.  Before we left, we enjoyed coffee at Gloria Jean's in the Poughkeepsie Galleria.  I recommend it.  We returned home to prepare Thursday's leftovers for lunch with my daughter and son-in-law's friends visiting from Albany.  That evening I prepared to move to another daughter's in Fishkill so I could be ready for an early start the next morning.

Around six a.m., we piled into the van to travel to the Philadelphia area to participate in the Jamie O'Brien Kindem Memorial Run ( https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/216973548459287/ )   The temperature was 28 degrees.  Since I'm used to warmer weather, I wore four layers of clothing.  I was happy to be able to participate.  I was just a walker pushing one of the strollers (we had my daughter's two little ones with us).  We joined Jamie's husband, children and family at McKenzie's Brew House on Swedesford Road in Berwyn PA.  The staff was friendly and handled the crowd cordially and expertly.  I had hummus with flat breat, actually just two pieces, on the Tappas menu.  My son-in-law had what looked like a very generous Bacon Cheeseburger.  My daughter told us her fish tacos were delicious  Even the children enjoyed the ample servings from their menu.  My daughter made a point of stopping to speak with the hostess to tell her how good the food was.  If you are in that area of Pennsylvania, you might want to stop in.  Of course, we had more traffic probably due to this weekend being a big shopping opportunity coupled with the celebration of Hannukah and Thanksgiving.  When we arrived back home in Fishkill NY, we were ready for bed.

On Sunday, I accompanied my Beacon daughter to Worcester MA to bring my second oldest grandson to WPI.  The trip of 159 miles took us 6 hours.  Unbeknownst to us, there had been a 70 car pileup on the 290, due to early morning icy road conditions.  Thankfully, there were no fatalities.  As we inched along, we thought it was due to the conflagration of holidays and all the college students returning to school. Thankfully, our GPS put us on the right roads at the right time.  Without it, we might have been sitting in even worse traffic.  I didn't get an opportunity to see the campus as it was dark by the time we arrived.  Maybe another time.

Since I'm a "goer" this weekend was quite enjoyable for me.

Happy Hannukah!

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Benefits of Volunteering


                                      

This past Saturday, I volunteered at the sign-in table for the "work clean-up party" at the Famosa Slough.  It gave me a great opportunity to take some photos of the birds.  The Snowy Egret I caught fishing for his lunch is a resident.  I noticed a long time ago that he seemed to stake out his territory.  I've seen him chase a Little Blue Heron and other Snowy Egrets.  I haven't seen him bothering ducks or cormorants.


I believe that the bird shown on the right below is a Long-billed Curlew.  There are a few birds that are very similar in size with up or downward turned bills, such as Short and Long-billed Dowitchers and a Marbled Godwit.  The large bird below is a Great Egret on its way to fish.  It seemed to be headed to an area already scoped out by an unidentified duck.









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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Micah Christian Hall


 



Thirty years today, Micah Christian Hall went to be with the Lord.  Having Micah, as well as his Brother, Chris, and sisters, Beth, Ami, Bonnie, Terese and Becky was such a joy.  I am blessed with a wonderful family.  Micah was born with Down Syndrome and lived 6 1/2 yrs with no center wall in his heart.  A piece of membrane created the chambers and the amount of blood that circulated into his lungs was five times the amount that circulated throughout his body.  You can read about this in "The Book of Micah" on Kindle and the Nook.  As a family, we were and still are very normal and certainly blessed.  I am so thankful that my children are so good to me.


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Monday, November 4, 2013

Wanderings


 On Friday, October 25, I went to Cabrillo National Monument.  I was hoping to see some migrating birds, but didn't.  I did see a few Painted Lady Butterflies near the top of the hill near the lighthouse.  Made my day!

                                                                                                                       
Painted Lady Butterfly
Cabrillo National Monument Lighthouse



Today, I was able to join a Girl Scout troop touring the Famosa Slough lead by the Chairman of the Friends of Famosa Slough.  I was enjoyable to see how much the girls enjoyed learning about the presence of fresh water just a few feet from the presence of salt water.  Binoculars were provided to enhance their experience.  The girls enjoyed zooming in on several species of ducks, a Snowy Egret, a Great Egret and three Black-crowned Night Herons.  The night herons are nocturnal birds.  I had posted photos of Juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons, but I've never seen an adult Black-crowned Night Heron out in the Slough.  Below are pictures of the three we saw this afternoon.  I consider the adults very elusive.  Previously I've only spotted them in a tree, surrounded by the leaves.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

Adult Black-crowned Night Heron
Adult Black-crowned Night Heron


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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Walking Ocean Beach Hills

Last Sunday, I walked the hill on Niagara Avenue in Ocean Beach.  After checking out the apparent steepness of several blocks, I decided on Niagara because I wanted a challenge.   After the first block that is mildly hilly, the next two are similar to climbing steps.  This is, of course, the way it feels to me.  As  I trudged up the hill, a runner sprinted up on the other side of the street.  Although he seemed to be laboring, within minutes he was a block ahead of me.  I was really out of practice.  I walked as far as Venice where Niagara then proceeds down another hill into what looks like a ravine.  I only wanted the upward climb.  As I wandered around, I found a great vista of the shoreline and the ocean at Delmonte and Guiznot.




After taking a few photos, I proceeded down Guiznot to Brighton.  As I wound my way through the streets, at Lotus and Froude I spotted a beautiful, small olive green bird with a lighter green cheek sitting on a wire.  As I grabbed my camera out of its case, the bird flew into a nearby tree.  Then, the chase began.  Apparently, it liked this kind of tree as it flew to another tree with the same type of leaves and then, back to the first tree.  I scoured the leaves of the tree.  Of course, this green bird blended right in to the tree making it very difficult to follow.  As I was trying my best, I spotted two larger birds, one with a markedly yellow stomach.  I was able to photograph one of them more successfully while it was sitting at a juncture of many electrical wires.  I believe it is a Cassin's Kingbird, which is in the flycatcher family.   For aesthetic value, I would have preferred that the bird found a better place to perch.  I guess all those electrical impulses surging through the wires is of no concern to this Kingbird.  The little olive green bird continued to quickly flit  between the trees with very slender green leaves, never to be photographed by me.   
                  




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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Past Week's Excursions

This past week was a busy one.  On Monday, I went to the San Diego Zoo.  They have a sightseeing bus that travels through the park.  You can see everything and then, get off the bus and see the animals more closely.  If you pay to ride on this bus, you can also use an Express Bus to go back to see your favorite animals.  It stops at five different spots throughout the park.  You can get on and off at any of these spots at will. 




After getting off the bus, we had lunch at Sydney's (hamburgers and fries were good) and then, we headed for the giraffes.  Following this we went to the Australian Outback Koalafornia Dreaming exhibit.  The napping Koalas were cute.


And at the La Jolla Cove, the Gull was taking a walk across the road, but when a car came near he hightailed it back to the curb.  Why he didn't just fly across the street is beyond me.  He or she didn't seem injured.



At the La Jolla Children's Pool (which is really sort of a cove), an area of the rocks are populated by first on lower rocks, cormorants, secondly, closer to the water, seals (perhaps Elephant Seals), and thirdly, on a higher portion, the Brown Pelicans.

Brown pelicans

Cormorants
Seals


The Children's Pool at La Jolla Cove

The photo above shows the total area at the La Jolla Cove.  There is a small beach for swimmers and there were some.  Swimming so close to the large seals would not be my "cup of tea." 


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Monday, September 16, 2013

More Bird Photography

Last Saturday, volunteers came together with the Friends of Famosa Slough (in San Diego) to do some clean-up work.  This occurs on the second Saturday of every month. They clean up paths and clear away any non-native plants.  This was the first time I participated.  I didn't help with the clean-up, but covered the sign up table providing information and snacks.  During the quiet times, I took some photographs. 

I discovered the photo on the left when I downloaded the contents of my camera.  I was taken back by the timing of the birds' passage through that segment of the waterway.  

The photo to the right is of a Snowy Egret who seems to feel that he owns the place.  He regularly chases other birds off his turf (so to speak).  I believe he was fishing for his brunch this time.  Every so often I would spot a silvery fish under the water.  I think this Egret did as well.

I believe these Mallards (left below) are resident and have written about them in an earlier post.   The juvenile Black-Crowned Night-Heron shown on the right below was just passively watching the activity.  Actually, there were two of them but the other did not photograph well.  I didn't want to hurt his feelings, so I didn't tell him (or her).

                                                                     
                                                                                                                                   



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Friday, September 13, 2013

Beautiful, Beautiful Day

I went to Downtown San Diego today to the World Market.  Early this summer, I was in their La Jolla store and found an unusual peanut butter.  It is called PB Crave Razzle Dazzle Peanut Butter.  Wild honey, dark chocolate, white cocoa butter drops, natural raspberry flavor are added to the peanut butter.  One or two spoonfuls a day is a real treat, in my estimation.

Today was a good day to go traipsing around San Diego. The downtown area is always interesting and I definitely recommend the World Market on Fourth Avenue between J and K Streets.  It always has an nice array of products you don't find elsewhere.  When I left the store, I found the sun, warm, but the coastal breeze, cool and the sky was a beautiful blue.   All the way home, I pondered a spoonful of this peanut butter and the beauty of the day made this excursion well worth it.

The only drawback was going out without my camera, again.  Oh, well....


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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Recollections of September 11, 2001

I have reprinted the following account several times.  Twelve years have passed and time marches on, presenting other concerns.  However, we must never forget September 11, 2001.

No American civilian should ever have to experience the events of 9/11 on American soil. And, my experience of that day is in no way comparable to the heartache of the families of the victims. The following is just my personal recollection of that day.

As my train pulled into Grand Central Station that morning, I heard some buzz from other commuters. But, it was none of my business so I just got off the train and walked the underground tunnel to the Forty-fifth Street exit. As I walked up Madison Avenue, I saw a throng of people standing around a bank looking at a TV. As I tried to see that they were looking at, somehow I got the message that something happened at the World Trade Center. I remember looking in that direction, seeing smoke, and trying to use my phone, and then, trying my Blackberry. No signal. I proceeded north to my office on 52nd St. When I arrived, I saw that I had a message from my daughter who worked near the World Trade Center. However, I could not reach her since I had no phone service.

I proceeded to work. A short while later, I heard that there was a TV in Personnel. So, I went to that floor to see what was going on. After a few minutes, I squeezed into the room. The scene was incredulous. I decided that for me the best thing was to go back to work. Young people on my floor were just milling around. We were the IT (computer) department. They either had IT friends in those World Trade buildings or, like me, had previously worked there themselves. I tried to work, but at the back of my mind were all the tens of thousands of commuters who literally poured out of the ground from the PATH (a train from New Jersey). What happened to all those people? Many, many times I had walked through the underground shopping Plaza and the passage ways under those buildings as a shortcut to save time. Since my commute was 2 ½ hours each way from upstate New York, I was always running to be on time at work. In November 2000, a co-worker and good friend gave me a job lead that resulted in my leaving the World Trade Center and moving to 52nd Street. As an aside, I later heard that a very smart female executive of the Port of Authority ordered the trains diverted to the mid-town area of New York City, saving many lives. I thought of how I would take my lunch into one of the glassed-in areas of my building and look at the Towers. How magnificent they were. Of course, I was just looking at the lower floors. I thought the design was intriguing.

Later that morning, I finally heard from my daughter who was with her co-workers at an apartment in lower Manhattan. One of the workers just took his whole department to his home. I advised my daughter to stay right where she was with her co-workers unless they were evacuated. Then, I was contacted by a great friend from Merrill Lynch inviting me to stay the night at her place since the City was in "lock-down."

Being in Computer Security, I decided, since I had no phone, to try sending emails to get messages to my children. I thank the good Lord for the “Information Highway.” Being able to contact my family in an event such as this is why I feel so strongly that there should be no Government interference with the Internet. I emailed friends in San Diego requesting that they contact my family. My children thought I still worked in the World Trade Center. Exactly where I worked was not one of their concerns. I didn’t know my son’s work e-mail address, but decided to create the addresses in different ways. Surely, one of the emails would get through. Not knowing was going to happen next, I wrote to my son that his sister and I were OK. I gave him the address and phone number for the apartment where she was staying. Then, I gave him the phone number of the friend with whom I would be staying. Without being melodramatic, I thought this might be the last communication we could possibly have. It brings me to tears when I think of it.

Around noon, I went to the bank to get money since I couldn’t get home that night. The sea of people walking, shoulder to shoulder, north out of the City on both sidewalks of Park Avenue was at least five people deep. It was an amazing, yet fearful sight.

Around 1pm, my daughter, accompanied by a co-worker, walked the 30 blocks to be with me. Her hair was covered in ash. I got her in our “locked-down” building. When we reached my office, the phone rang. It was my son in Los Angeles. My daughter, wide-eyed and in shock, told him what happened….her words just spilling out. I tried to calm her down. Her only response to me was, “You weren’t there.”

Then, my daughter told me we just had to get out of the City. She kept pressing. As far as I knew, we couldn't go anywhere. I decided to leave and walk to Grand Central to see if any trains were moving. I never in my lifetime had been prepared for what I saw.

As we walked the now eerily empty Park Avenue south to the train station, we were met with men with megaphones ordering us where to go. We walked a sidewalk cordoned off with safety tape into what seemed like the only open entrance. Other than the sea of people in the great expanse of the center of the building, I don’t remember much except that my mind kept reeling, thinking that something else could happen at any moment. Before long, we were on a train leaving the City.

That evening, watching TV, I saw the real events I knew nothing about because I tried to work that day. I realized that I, being the kind of employee I was, would have returned to my desk in one of those buildings when the “All Clear” announcement was given.

My daughter and I were now safe, but what about those people who died. What about their families? Even today, my heart goes out to them

I realize that this is a sharp contrast to my usually light-hearted and hopefully informative blog. I will always remember my daughter walking 30 blocks to my uptown office, covered in ash from those collapsed buildings….wide-eyed and in shock, having seen death and destruction not many American civilians have ever seen. And, as I said in the beginning of this writing, no American citizen should ever have to experience the events of 9/11 on American soil and no one should ever forget.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

On Friday, I started the weekend by going to Mission Beach with my daughter and her children.  My daughter spotted a parking space on Mission Boulevard.  Finding a spot there was quite a coup.  For a Labor Day weekend, there weren't many people on the beach.  We had expected larger crowds.  More people did start coming around 3:00pm.  We enjoyed romping in the waves with the children.  The six year old was a little wary of the waves, but still had a good time.  My daughter spread a blanket and placed an umbrella in the middle.  After a while, we returned to sit on the blanket to eat a snack, while the six year old played in the sand along side.  Before I knew it, I was shooing flies with large wings.  At first, my daughter said there is nothing there, but then she did see them.  Since I was the only person they were landing on, I suspect that it was probably my pomegranate and mango soap that attracted them.  Lesson learned.  I didn't bring my camera so I missed the opportunity for photos of some Whimbrels, pecking through the sand.  After two hours, we left the beach, having thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. 



On Saturday, after my grandson's soccer scrimmage, we left for Los Angeles to visit the cousins.  We enjoyed spotting the "monster" in the clouds as we traveled north up the "5".  Traffic wasn't bad at all, except for the toll booth area.   My daughter was wondering why the cars paying the toll were held up.  Then, we noticed that the toll for the "73" had risen to $5.75.  Some of the drivers were probably unprepared for the rise in the cost, slowing everyone down.  The visit with the cousins was, of course, very enjoyable as it always is.

We returned on Sunday morning with some sporadic tie ups.  My daughter chose to skip the toll and bypass the "73".  I dislike driving the 405 all the way to where it joins the "5".  The traffic at that point can be an absolute "bear", at least in my opinion.  I do not enjoy bumper-to-bumper traffic.  This morning, however, we didn't have any problem.  That afternoon, I went with a friend for a late lunch at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza at Liberty Station in Point Loma to celebrate our birthdays.  The atmosphere at this restaurant is always enjoyable.  We both ordered from the "Tapas" section of the menu.  I ordered a the "crab and shrimp with flat bread" (I highly recommend this) and Marge chose the "Oak roasted asparagus with prosciutto."   I tasted one of spears....very tasty.  Since we were celebrating our birthdays, the waiter offered us a special desert.  We both declined.  It would have tasted great, but common sense won out.  We still shared in laughter and I did a lot more talking than my friend.  She's a great listener.   It was another great day.

Yesterday, I went to Balboa Park to see if there were any migrating butterflies.  A young man attending one of the bird tours at the Famosa Slough last spring spoke glowingly about many butterflies in the Rose Garden.  There were no butterflies, but many rose bushes in this garden.  My photos don't do them justice.  One variety of rose was prettier than the other.

Balboa Park Rose Garden



After looking at the roses, I walked to Balboa Park's Koi Pond.  It is located by the Botanical Building and is a favorite of many.   As I left the Park, I noticed a number of children in the Bea Evenson Fountain.  It was very hot yesterday.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Bea Evenson Fountain
                                                                                                    
 On my way home, I went to the Famosa Slough, where I saw the Osprey perched on the telephone pole.  Several times in the past two weeks, I've seen a "host" of sparrows.  Actually, I've been unable to discern exactly what amount of sparrows constitutes a "host."  All summer, I would hear them in the bushes and if they were not in bushes they would quickly get into one as I came near.  This made it quite difficult to see what kind of sparrow it was.   Now, they are collectively out in the open which makes me think that they are preparing to migrate.  Visiting Balboa Park and the Famosa Slough was a perfect way to finish my Labor Day weekend.


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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Visits to the Slough


I recently came upon an Osprey sitting atop a telephone pole at the Famosa Slough.
             
                                                                   


                                       
Suddenly, he spotted something in the water.   Now here's a big bird.



The bird shown below is a juvenile Gull seen at the Famosa Slough last month.  It is shown in two different views.  There was a white Gull near it, but I was unable to verify that it was a Western Gull, though I suspect it was.  Interesting that the color and markings on the juvenile Gull would be so different from the adult Gull.    If you remember the pictures of the Black-crowned Night Heron, it's juvenile stage is quite different from how it will look as an adult.


Juvenile Gull
Juvenile Gull



I've found Hummingbirds at the Famosa Slough, but haven't succeeded in getting a good photo.  They are very fast and flit everywhere.  During a Bird Tour at the Famosa Slough, I discovered one sitting on a branch just over my head.  I suspect that it was quietly sitting there until the group of nine or ten left.

I've included the photo of the Hummingbird shown to the left because I thought it's colors were very pretty.  I saw it last summer in my daughter's yard in North Clairmont in San Diego.  

  My neighbor recently created a garden on her side of our joint deck.  Hummingbirds regularly visit.  When I hear the bird's little "chip, chip, chip" I grab my camera.  The photo to the right is about the best I could get so far.  I think it is a female Anna's Hummingbird.
                                                                          






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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Thanks to My Kind Candy Crush Friends

For those of you who were anxiously waiting for me to get over the bridge and past the troll (I think), a kind Candy Crush friend provided the third ticket.  The next two games were relatively easy.  I noticed how you can sail through one game and then, spend days on another.  Also, when the game shows a display of your friends who are stuck, offering you an opportunity to send them a "life" so they can move on, I always say yes.  However, last night, as I reflected on my day,  I was beset by a stunning revelation.  If you are stuck for 90 or so days, you are not interested in receiving one little "life".  (I'm just a newbie and really a little naive when it comes to these games.)  You probably were annoyed when you got the "request" (in my opinion, a misnomer for a gift).   Humble apologies.  When I got across the bridge today and was confronted with the opportunity to send gifts of "lives", I tried to send them only to people who looked like they were actually playing the game.  I could not find a way to do that. While I'm still enjoying the game, I'll refrain from using that screen to send more "lives." to my friends.  There is another screen that occasionally pops up and presents an opportunity to share a "life" with people who are still active in the game.  I'll use that because I just have to help my friends.  

Also, for most of my readers, this subject must be getting old.  So, this ends the saga of my Candy Crush experience.
 
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Waiting for Candy Ticket

Three days since I realized I was just too engaged in Candy Crush.  Since then, with sheer determination, I've been able to put first things first.  I've read my Bible and taken my walk.  This morning we had a marine layer preventing the sun and heat.  It is 63 degrees.  I took my first three-mile fast walk (at least fast for me) since the beginning of April.  When I was at Parris Island I noticed how the US Marines stood when they were at ease.  So, I've been practicing that stance.  The marines I saw clasped their hands behind their body.  I tried it and found it caused me to square my shoulders, where I tend to round them.  This morning, as I walked, I thought "shoulders back, abs in" over and over.  I have to remind myself, of course, since it isn't natural to me.  However, it has been said that if you continue something for 21 days, it becomes a habit.  We'll see.  To be truthful, I actually managed to fast walk only two and one-half miles.  When the sun started to break through, I relinquished my quest of three miles.

As far as habits are concerned, two kind Candy Crush friends have provided tickets to cross the bridge to the next level in the game.  I'm waiting with bated breath for that third person to help me.  Then, on I'll go.  For me it is addictive, but I think it will be okay as long as I keep it in check.  (smile, smile)


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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Candy

During my visit last Spring to New York, I observed one of my daughters asking her son if she could borrow his cell phone.  Then, on another evening, she asked her daughter the same thing.  Then, my daughter would proceed to do something on the phone.  Finally, she told me that she was playing a game that she wasn't able to get on her own cell phone.  So I watched this go on and on, night after night.

Then, as I moved to another New York daughter's house, I discovered she used a tablet to access the same game.  I was curious so I asked her if I could try her game.  Before I knew it, I was hooked and she was without her tablet.  I would wear down her battery with this game.  It was mesmerizing.   Everyday, the same question.... "Can I please use your tablet?"  My daughter all but lost her access to her own tablet....her own tablet.  Imagine that.  How do you tell your own mother "No" for such a simple request to use her tablet?  After all, her mother's life was so small.  Her mother needed the intellectual stimulation.  When I finally left to return to San Diego, I'm sure she had a "Candy Crush" party.  I always tell my sons-in-law that they probably have a "Lower the Heat" party in the winter after I've left to return to San Diego.  They always respond, "No, no, there is no party."  But, I don't know because I do know that they raise the heat regardless of the expense of more fuel just to make me more comfortable.  They are so good to me.

Well, back to Candy Crush.  I've been bitten.  The day after I arrived home, I set myself up with this game.  I saw how a number of my Facebook friends were entrenched in it as well.  In playing the game, after 5 unsuccessful tries, there is a waiting period before playing the game again.  However, sometimes the waiting period is 25 minutes, but other times it is 3 minutes.  When it is as little as 3 minutes, I can do something else and then, in three minutes, get back to the game.  Whoever designed this game was expert at keeping you engaged if you were so weak-willed, which I discovered I was.  The only strength I've been able to muster was in determining that I would not pay for the tools that appeared for sale when you could not win that level in the game.  I am now at level 80 waiting for some of my kind friends to help me across a bridge so I can proceed with the game.

Yesterday, though, I had an awakening.  Every morning I have my coffee while checking my emails and friend's posts on Facebook.  Then, I always break away to read my Bible.  You see, in my estimation, it's okay to be half-awake reading my emails, etc.  Don't get the wrong idea.  My friends and what they have to share with me are very important.  I just feel I am awake enough for incoming correspondence, just not my daily calling in relation to my Lord and Saviour.  The Bible is a "mainstay" in my life.  Then, later in the day, it's back on Facebook again to play the game.

Yesterday, I got so engrossed in Candy Crush that I had no time to read my Bible before I had to leave the house for an appointment.  At that point, I decided I had to resist the lure of the game from now on.  After all, is a game really all that important?  Actually, at this point, "Yes."  But I will endeavor to put first things first from now on, even though I still hear the music in my head.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Book of Micah

I just published The Book of Micah (by Catherine Hall) on Kindle this week.  It is an account of the life of our son, Micah, born with Down syndrome and almost no center wall in his heart and how we experienced the help of the Lord with all the issues we faced.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July

Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, NY

Happy Fourth of July!   On this day, we celebrate the anniversary of birth of our United States of America.  I heard a commentator on TV state that we Americans are privileged to live in this United States of America.  In my opinion, that is true.  While the past 237 years have fluctuated from hard times to good times and back, through wars (political or not), we have sustained.  I believe that this is because we have preserved our Constitution, despite the actions of our elected politicians.  In my opinion, we Americans are not a perfect people.  As a whole, we have to remind ourselves to be thankful for what we have as we celebrate with parades, picnics and fireworks.  However, we Americans are a generous people as evidenced by our rush to help our fellow man in disasters at home or, in fact, anywhere in the world.

I'd like to take the time to thank our Military (active, including my eldest grandson, a new United States Marine, and our Veterans) for the protections they afford us.  We would not be able to freely celebrate this day without their sacrifice. 


World Trade Center, New York, NY
Happy Independence Day!

Hudson River at Hyde Park, NY

Balboa Park, San Diego CA



Times Square, New York, NY



Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, NY

Coastline at La Jolla, CA




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