Monday, August 29, 2011

Oceans of Fun

In case you haven’t noticed, I really love the ocean! Currently, I live about 50 miles inland from the nearest beach, and don’t get there too often, but my heart is still on the shore! I even decorated part of my condo in a beach cottage theme.  

My blog this week is another pictorial journey, but this time, a voyage to the various beaches where I’ve had memorable experiences. (You will note that the photos of me span many years and various body sizes.)

We’ll start off with a visit to the Atlantic Ocean when I was on a Caribbean cruise with three other single women. We snorkeled in the Virgin Islands and it was awesome!  Even with my limited vision without eyeglasses, I was able to make out what were fish and what were plants!

Another event during the cruise was shopping at the straw market in Nassau, Bahamas. I still recall hearing the little girl call out "Two for dollar" as she held out seed necklaces on her wrists. I cannot resist a child, so I bought two!

             Now, sail away to the Pacific Ocean, where I’ve had two different excursions to Hawaii.

The first visit, I snorkeled in Hanama Bay, in Oahu. We would bring frozen peas and toss them across the water and create a fish feeding frenzy           

I am seen here “climbing” a coconut tree. Actually, when I was visiting friends that lived in Honolulu, this was their front yard and I was standing on a brick wall.

In this photo, I’m flirting with the natives. Well…actually, they were actors from the Polynesian Cultural Show…but they still were hotties!


Several years later, I went to Kauai with a friend and stayed in her time share condo. Kayaking was the highlighted activity of that trip. Another adventure I attempted was swinging from a vine in the jungle and landing into a salt-water pond!

Now we travel to Northern California where I am walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The fog was rolling in and it was rather scary to look out over the bridge.

Cruising down to Central California, I am seen canoeing at Morro Bay, and riding a mountain bike in the wavelets of Pismo Beach! What a thrill!

Now down in Southern California, to our local Orange County Beaches. Here, I am with a friend and we are parasailing at New Port Beach. So fun! My friend was a cute, skinny blond, and the boat skippers enjoyed dunking her in the water as they reeled in. I was so pleased when they did the same thing for me!

This fun photo was taken last year at Balboa Beach, and I’m riding the Ferris wheel with my then 4 year old great niece. It was her first time on a Ferris wheel and she loved it!

One of my favorite memories is this one, of when my niece was ten and had just come to live with me. We went to Huntington Beach and pretended to be old fashioned Victorian Ladies like in the impressionist paintings.

Finally, my most recent ocean photo is when my friend, Dr. Rita, and I lunched at my most favorite place- Laguna Beach. This is the coolest beach where there are tide pools to explore. When the tide is high, the rocks are covered.  We dined at a delightful outdoor resturant that sits up on a cliff and there's an incredible view of the ocean and a big strip of coastline. There are also numerous artisan shops surrounding the resturant.

 There have been other ocean-related activities that I've participated in over the years, but these are the places that were the most fun. Now, I need to go and make some more memories!

Monday, August 22, 2011

N is for Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls; the name itself denotes, beauty, power and strength, and that accurately describes what is I felt when I first observed the falls. I experienced the majesty of God as I gazed out over the panorama from the American side and felt the cool mist touching my face.

One of the tours I took the first time visiting Niagara Falls was the  "Cave of the Winds."
 Eveyone donned yellow raincoats, and  walked a pathway to the bottom of the falls. What a thrill! 

 An additional tour I took  that day was "Maid of the Mist", which was a boat that motored up to the base of the falls. Raincoats  were also proper attire for that trip. (Sorry, no photos)

Another tour I did was to ride a helicopter over the falls. What a thrill that was!
Yes, it was expensive, but so worth it!

This view was on another visit, on an overcast day. I was with my cousins and we were in the Skylon  Tower on the Canadian side of the border.
 By far, the greatest view of Niagara Falls is seen from Canada.

I've not been back to Western New York to visit family since my grandmother died, but still have memories of the beauty and glory of God's Creations in that lovely state.

Monday, August 15, 2011

M is for Mahjongg

I am addicted to the on-line puzzle game called

I found this website where the game is free, no annoying ads, and no time clock ticking away the minutes I play. In mahjongg, the object is to remove all tiles from the screen by matching pairs that are on the end of multiple layers.

The game has increased my observation skills in that I need to look and think before I click on the first pair I find. I spend time studying the set-up to see if there is a better route to take that will open up more tiles that have matches. I need a W on the far left but none available. However, I spot one in another row, but first need to remove F. But to remove F, I need to remove 9. That will be workable for there are available tiles to click away!

I will play this game while talking on the phone, or just before going to sleep. Sometimes if I awaken during night and cannot return to sleep, I tune in for a couple of games to re-focus my over-active mind.

I have not discovered a strategy for removing the tiles- it seems like it is just random, and I lose more often than I win. But I continue to play and enjoy the challenge.

Try it sometime!
                                    Here’s the link:

Just remember you may also become addicted!


Monday, August 8, 2011

L is for Letchworth

During the few times I visited my Grandmother at my place of birth in Western New York, I usually made day trips to a large historical preserve known as Letchworth State Park.

The 14,300 acre park passes through the towns of Mt. Morris, Perry, Castile and Portageville and is fondly known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”  The Park has a rich history spanning thousands of years.

The Genesee River runs through the park and though there are numerous waterfalls, three are the most popular. Known as the “Upper Falls”, Middle Falls” and “Lower Falls” Seneca Indians living along the river named the grounds Sehgahunda “Vale of Three Falls.”

The train trestle, known as the Portage Bridge, was originally constructed with wood in 1851, but was destroyed by fire in 1875. Within three months, it had been rebuilt of iron, and that original bridge remains with only repairs as needed. The bridge is 820 feet spanning the Upper Falls and is 240 feet high.

  On one of my visits, I, umm, trespassed, and walked out onto the middle of the bridge, praying no train would come, yet hoping one would zoom by. There was a four foot walkway on either side of the track and as I uneasily walked out, I felt both scared and guilty, but also exhilarated as I peered over the rails at the river and falls below. What a view! My mom had told stories from her youth about walking across the bridge, but it was not yet banned from foot traffic at the time. I only went halfway across because my conscious was yelling at me! The photo is of my cousin, Kathy, at the beginning of the bridge. She did not go across!  


 The Middle Falls are the most beautiful and when the sun is shining, a rainbow can be seen down in the river gorge where the water lands.

 On the land, set back a few hundred yards is the Glen Iris Inn. The original building was purchased circa 1859 by Mr. Letchworth, and he named it Glen Iris after the Greek goddess of rainbows. The charming yellow and white two story cottage is decorated in a Victorian motif and now serves as a commercial inn and restaurant. 

  I remember dining there a couple of times, and the view out the window overlooked the falls.  I felt like I was in another era.



It’s been years since I’ve been back to Letchworth Park, but I have a lot of memories! One memorable time, my mom joined me on the visit, and she and I went to the park in our rental car. So what did I do but lock the only set of keys into that rental car! It put a damper on our daytrip waiting for the locksmith to unlock the car. I’m still embarrassed to this day! But anyway, all my other memories are happy ones. 

The photo is of my mom. She takes her purse everywhere. I don't- just the keys...Lockouts happen!

The Lower Falls are quite a distance from the first two and not nearly as spectacular. The drive from one end of the park to the other is 17 miles, and in-between, are numerous memorials, monuments, tree-laden glens, and of course, waterfalls!

If you ever are in the area, by all means, go see Letchworth State Park! It lives up to its name!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Kitten Kapers

The story begins on a hot August night in the year 2000, when a sickly kitten, filthy with matted fur  and covered with fleas, entered into our lives and into our hearts.

My niece Stephanie, then 17, and her boyfriend had returned from a college class, and were saying their goodbyes as I was preparing to leave for my work on the grave yard shift. A few moments later the boyfriend returned in a very excited state. He told Stephanie about a frightened kitten  loudly mewing near his car in the carport. Together they went to investigate and Stephanie returned with the distressed kitten cupped in her hands.

“Barbie, can we keep him?”

I was worried about how Emma, our two year old “only child" cat, would deal with a new addition to the family, so did not commit to a decision at that time, but felt it was urgent to attend to the poor little critter.  I sped to the corner store for cat milk and shampoo.

 Stephanie bathed the kitten; trying to purge fleas that were teaming all over his face and belly. How pathetic he looked. But after he was dried off and his belly was full of milk, he looked rather content.

I went  on to work,  but in the wee hours of the morning, Stephanie called in melodramatic tears of frustration, because Emma was not dealing well with having the strange creature in the same room. I instructed Stephanie to make a bed for the kitten in her bathroom and to close the door. Still, no one slept, as the kitten cried and Emma fussed.

The next day, I informed Stephanie  that as a result of Emma's agitation, we could not keep the cat and told her to print out and put up "free kitten" fliers in the apartment complex.

Before I went to bed, I placed the tiny critter in a small shoe box for a visit with the veterinarian. It was determined that the little guy was about 5 weeks old and had an upper respiratory infection. Medication was prescribed to help him get well.   By the time the vet visit was completed I'd bonded with the baby and decided to keep him. I returned home and tore down all the posters that Stephanie had spent time constructing and posting.

I wanted to name him after Stephanie’s then boyfriend who had found the kitten, but Stephanie did not like the name “Jimmy”, so we decided on Dusty. (That name is perfect –for he is the biggest contributor to the massive collection of dust on my Pergo floors)

Because of Emma’s distaste of the new creature, he stayed behind closed doors in my bathroom with food, water, toys and a litter box. I worked at night, and was going to school during the day, so had little time to spend with the new kitten.
 We did let him out when someone was available to supervise, but he stayed in that  small room till he was a bit bigger and able to fend for himself.

His little kitten antics were fun to watch and he would antagonize Emma and she would bully him. Sometimes they would play nice

When he was about a year old, he was greatly traumatized when he fell out of my second story bedroom window and broke his tail.
I wrote a Faithwriter's challenge story detailing the event, but changed the names of the participants.

As he grew, his wild animal instincts surfaced and at times, would attack me. Unfortunately, I did not effectively discipline  the behavior and he was occasionally abusive to me. That behavior has continued into adulthood.

 (Read about it here :  )

I even wrote a tongue-in cheek FaithWriters Challenge about him, but later realized that there is nothing funny about domestic abuse.

I am attuned to his cues now, so know when to re-direct to prevent attacks and he and Emma stay away from each other in a mutual disrespect.

I really love this kitty, and for the most part, he is very cute, and entertaining. I have no intention of getting rid of him and since no else lives with me, I'm not risking a possible attack on someone. (When company does come, he hides in the bedroom.)

It's been eleven years now and  my niece has grown up and moved away, but the cats are still around. They are a lot of company, even when they misbehave I will enjoy them for as long as I can; even if one of them tends to be a ferocious beast!