Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Eggs



My daughter painted these eggs for me some years back and they're still my favorite Easter decorations. They're real chicken eggs, blown out a tiny hole on each end, rinsed, dried and hand painted. The bold colors and geometric designs really appeal to me, especially at this time of year when most decorations focus on pastel and soft colors.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Last Evening In The Garden



Last evening, as the sun set, it cast a fiery glow across the garden.



Our warmer than normal days have prompted the daffodils and irises to burst into bloom. The trumpet vine, below, is heavy with buds and blossoms, much to the delight of our resident hummingbirds.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Susan Turns 62




This is a picture of my best friend, Susan. It was taken in 1973, when we shared a little house on the east side of Kauai. We'd ventured over to the west side to camp on Whispering Sands beach, just over the dunes from the rifle range, down the road from Kekaha.

Today is Susan's birthday, it's 37 years later and we both marvel at how time flies. Here's wishing her many happy returns of the day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Out And About



It's become a habit to slip a camera into my bag, whether just out on errands or going somewhere special. This cluster of fuschias and luscious camellia were growing just steps from where we parked to get burritos for lunch.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

American Country Stores ~ #1 In A Series



As part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal during the Great Depression, in his effort to create jobs, photographers were hired to document life in the United States, either through the Farm Services Administration or the Office of War Information.

Last year we looked at barber shops in most of the states. This year, on Saturdays, let's check out the country stores that were so much a part of every day life for almost everyone.

This first store was photographed by Russell Lee in June, 1939, in Wagoner County, Oklahoma. The first picture shows the outside of the country store/gas station and the second shows the proprietess helping a customer inside.

Friday, March 26, 2010

An Evening Visitor



Last evening, Thomas stopped by to play. He'd been by earlier in the afternoon for a bite to eat, and it was obvious by the flick of his tail and the way his ears bent that he was ready for a chase.



He was stretched out on the patio, waiting for the appearance of the string he like to chase.



He's relentless and would have kept going had night not fallen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Honolulu in 1854



Familiar views of Honolulu usually include shoreline skyscrapers. Not so many years ago, it looked like this one tint stone lithograph, printed in San Francisco in 1854. It is described as "the view from the Catholic Church".

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The More The Merrier



My daughter turned 31 earlier this year, so that's about how long our papier mache Easter eggs from Germany have been accumulating. That's about half of them, above.



Our tradition was that the eggs were set out in baskets and come Easter morning the Easter bunny would have filled them with treasures, such as sidewalk chalk, bubbles, new socks (never a favorite, but the Easter bunny had a practical side), loops for weaving pot holders, small bills and large coins.



As they're seen but briefly just once a year, it never fails that they provoke fond memories of years gone by. The one with the single pensive rabbit and pussy willows, second from the top, is my personal favorite.



It's hard to resist adding a new egg or two to the collection every year.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Unusual Pictures Of Uncommon People



He was born in Point Pleasant, a small town along the banks of the Ohio River. By the time he was 9, his skills were so keen that farmers from far and wide brought their horses to him for breaking to pace. He set a high jump record at West Point that stood unmatched for 25 years. After graduating, he intended to leave the military to become a professor of mathematics.

It was not to be. He eventually wrote his autobiography in two volumes, considered to be a masterpiece of American literature. In seven years he went from being a clerk in his father's leather store to being elected President of the United States, and in between, appointed by Abraham Lincoln as General of The Armies.

Pictured above is one of the greatest Americans, Ulysses S. Grant.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Springtime Slipping & Sliding



My favorite neighbor Kevin just built a new retro styled surfboard that's only 5'4". With a weekend of blue skies and sunshine, he and my daughter spent some time in the water, taking turns giving the new board a go. That's Amanda above, in the wave's sweet spot. The sun may be out, but the ocean is still a chilly 58 degrees, so full wetsuits are mandatory.



Most people ride a long board for nose riding. Kevin's surfing skills and wave judgment allow him to nose ride any board he likes. They took turns behind the camera, as well, and Amanda shot the video, below, of Kevin making the most of small, choppy waves on the first weekend of Spring.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Passages



During my childhood, Fess Parker brought two huge American heroes to life - Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Of the two, Davy Crockett loomed largest in my imagination and most frequently on television. He ventured forth on new adventures in the wilderness, righting wrongs and personifying justice, charity, friendship, loyalty, humility and courage. Those virtues mixed with a big dollop of charisma and good humor made Davy Crockett "King of the Wild Frontier".

Davy Crockett's book, written "By Himself" still has a place on my bookshelf.

Fess Parker, RIP.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Arrives



As Spring arrived, Thomas, the cat who visits, stopped by for the first time in over a week. We had been worrying about him, as he usually stops by on a daily basis. But with some rainy days, the time change and an abundance of gopher mounds to monitor in the field next door, visiting us is not always at the top of his to do list.

Although he arrives either via the patio or jumps right in an open window, he follows a set routine when taking his leave. He strolls down the walkway, passes under the arbor and crosses the street to where he lives. Oddly, he never takes a shortcut across the lawn. Occasionally he'll pause on the walkway, sit a spell and take in the evening air before he continues on his rounds.

As we're always sorry to see him go, he remains our favorite visitor.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Drops



In the dewy morning, a drop of water clung to a frond of a king palm, above, while below, smaller drops gathered on the petals of a South African blossom, the sparaxis.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Something New In The Garden



As an avid gardener, plenty of grasshoppers of all sizes have crossed my path over the years, but this bright yellow one, placidly observing me from the frond of a king palm, was a first. Where it came from is anyone's guess. Its green and brown brethren take a toll on my flowers and foliage alike, so here's hoping it moves on, the sooner the better.



We're having a mini heat wave in these wanning days of winter - it was already 68 degrees at 8 in the morning with a forecast of sunny skies and temps in the upper 70s. This unexpected burst of warmth is prompting an early bloom amongst the Dutch irises that have set their buds. In the meantime, the ever spreading and blooming perennial cranesbill, above, is showing its delicate flowers en masse.

Below, a common weed called sourgrass has a flower with beauty that rivals many cultivated blossoms.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day



Two circa 1900 postcards celebrate the day. Did you know more Irish people live in the United States than Ireland?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Under The Big Top



The heyday of the traveling circus was from 1880-1910 and those years coincide with the heyday of the chromolithograph poster, as well. Both of these posters were made by the Strobridge Lithograph Company of Cincinnati and New York in 1899. The first one has a caption that reads "20 Felt Crowned Fools" and the second shows jugglers, contortionists and backward dives off an extension ladder.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Babies Can Be Demanding



Beaks wide, this hungry threesome wait for their mother to show up with some grub.

Another classic shot of our feathered friends from local wildlife photographer, Chris Mayne.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Unusual Pictures Of Uncommon People



Duke Kahanamoku was the unofficial ambassador of surfing to the world. Born in Waikiki on 1890, his remarkable swimming abilities took him to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, the 1924 Olympics in Paris, and the 1932 Summer Olympics, where he joined the water polo team at the age of 42. He picked up 5 gold medals along the way.

He answered Hollywood's call in the 1920s, appearing in numerous movies and playing water polo with the Los Angeles Athletic Club. In 1925, while relaxing on the sand near Newport Beach, he witnessed a fishing boat capsize in heavy surf as it made its way to the harbor. He grabbed his board and paddled out and is credited with rescuing 8 fisherman. Although 17 fishermen perished, the town's sheriff was quoted as saying it was the most remarkable rescue effort he'd ever seen, with Duke pulling men one by one out of the surging surf and paddling them individually to shore on his wooden board.

Most pictures of Duke show him posing with his board. The one above shows him in Santa Monica, circa 1925, showing off his golf swing, and below, posing with an unknown swimmer.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In The Window



A vase of freesias is a sure guarantee that Spring is just around the corner.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Recipe For Winter Soup



Do you like Cream of Asparagus soup? Asparagus is abundant right now and this soup is quick, easy and delicious.

6 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion
3 bundles asparagus
5 Tbsp. flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 cubes Knorr vegetable bouillon
3/4 cup light cream

Steam the asparagus - let it stay a little firm. Chop into smaller pieces and set aside.
Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet and saute the chopped onion until transparent.
Turn the heat down low and stir in the flour and crumbled vegetable bouillon cubes - it will all clump together - not a problem. Once it is mixed, transfer it from the cast iron skillet into a large pot and turn the heat back up a bit as you slowly add the 4 cups chicken broth, stirring until smooth. Add the chopped asparagus and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly (it should be thickening somewhat). Add cream. Season to taste and serve. This recipe is easily altered. If you like a thinner soup, add more chicken broth. If you like a thicker soup, add more flour. If you want to make Cream Of Chicken soup, substitute chicken for asparagus. Don't hesitate to throw in a bay leaf or season with cayenne pepper if you are so inclined.

This recipe is reworked from Kate's recipe for Cream of Mushroom Soup.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Back In The Garden



If you have a passion for gardening, there's never a dull moment at this time of year. Nasturtiums grow almost overnight, extending their reach by leaps and bounds.



Calla lilies are almost indestructible, coming back stronger year after year, rain or shine.



Bees are busy collecting nectar and pollenating. Happily, their numbers have been slowly increasing these past couple years after they became surprisingly scarce.



These bright orange ice plant flowers are so intense in the sunshine, they're almost painful to look at.



Common lavender grow sturdy single stalks that bend and dance in the breeze all day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thinking About Great Americans



A list of the greatest 100 Americans, compiled by the Discovery Channel a few years back, just came to my attention and it said a lot about the power of media to shape popular culture. Included on the list were Elvis Presley, Madonna, Dr. Phil, Michael Moore, Hugh Hefner, Tom Cruise, Marilyn Monroe, John Edwards, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Katherine Hepburn, Ellen DeGeneres, Mel Gibson and Martha Stewart. Oprah and Elvis were both in the Top Ten.

Conspicuously absent from the list: Ulysses S. Grant, John Adams, Sitting Bull, George S. Patton, Robert E. Lee, Clara Barton, Bob Dylan, Lewis & Clark, John D. Rockefeller, Ernest Hemingway, Daniel Boone, Thomas Paine, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, Davy Crockett, Douglas MacArthur, James Audubon, Winslow Homer, John Muir, Molly Pitcher, John Steinbeck, John Paul Jones, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Samuel Colt...

The above photograph was made in 1865 by Civil War photographer Matthew Brady of Clara Barton at 44. She never had a talk show, but she did provide her own supplies to nurse wounded soldiers behind enemy lines during the Civil War and founded the American Red Cross. The general reaction today is probably, "Clara who?"

Monday, March 8, 2010

Slowly In The West



It rained again yesterday, off and on, much to our delight. We got a fire burning early in the morning and kept it going all day. When the pictures came out of the camera, it surprised me to see the hanging baskets on the front porch reflected on the fireplace surface. So often the camera sees what my eyes do not.



After a peaceful day at home, as we watched from the living room window, the winter sun set slowly in the west.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Late Winter Walking In The Neighborhood



My daughter stopped by earlier this week and we set out on a walk through the neighborhood. Local citrus trees are bending under the weight of their fruit - oranges, lemons, grapefruits and tangerines are bountiful this time of year. Anything that hangs out onto the street is considered fair pickings.



The picture above was taken of the view from the hill behind our house - a narrow slice of Pacific between pine trees.



Camellias are blooming like crazy right now. The ground under every bush is carpeted with fallen blossoms. This bee was in the red zone, oblivious to my camera.



A rambling yellow nasturtium was tumbling up and over a bamboo fence.



New growth on the grapevine that grows where the honking geese live! In summer, this vine grows along the chain link fence and huge clusters of purple grapes hang over on the street side, warm in the sun and ripe for the picking.