Sunday, August 31, 2008

My wee friend, the Chipmunk

Is he not adorable?

The Chipmunk

My friends all know that I am shy,
But the chipmunk is twice and shy than I.
He moves with flickering indecision
Like stripes across the television.
He's like the shadow of a cloud,
Or Emily Dickinson read aloud.

~Ogden Nash~
1902 – 1971

I met this little fellow along the banks of a river last year near Jackson Lake Lodge, Wyoming. Gregg and I were near the dam, a place we were told moose had been sighted, and that's what we were there for. We walked up and down for half an hour but no sighting of moose. I suggested to Gregg we sit down for a while and see what happened. Ten minutes later Gregg had gone off to explore but I was content to stare across the water, and look at the occasional duck family swimming by. Apart from a solitary fisherman several hundred yards away, there was no one else in sight. I loved the peace and tranquility of it all and I was in heaven.
It was then that I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. When I turned my head ever so slowly, there was a little chipmunk looking up at me, only a few feet away. We have chipmunks here but I rarely see them. So here we were 3,000 miles away from home and I am sitting right next to one practically nose to nose. I watched him for a while and I thought him so adorable, then I remembered my camera. He posed for me and then ran from spot to spot to find his dinner. I was totally mesmerized and lost in the moment when Gregg touched my arm and as I looked at his face, he was staring in the distance pointing down the river. That's when we spotted our moose mum with her calf. But that's another story. This one is about my little chipmunk which I fell in love with on the spot.

"CHIP, CHIP, CHIP," he sang loud and clear.
"Hey, you other chipmunks, stay away from here.
He sat beside his doorway and loudly sang his song,
Protecting food he'd gathered to eat all winter long....

~Author Unknown~

What could be better than one chipmunk, but two?

They eventually disappeared into the bush where their home must have been, a burrow just out of sight no doubt. I didn't want to leave but the call of the Moose was too strong, and so off we went to take photos of yet another most beautiful family, a mother and child of the moose kind.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Today's Flowers

I love taking pictures of flowers and so was happy to join in "Today's Flowers". Other flower photos can be found by clicking on the icon above. Thank you Luiz for the invite. I was too late for last week but hopefully am not for this.

Nostalgia Time

I am still going through our old photos and putting them on the portable hard drive. I came across two lovely ones of Gregg's Mom, Bea. I first met Bea in a London hotel room in December of 1975, when she and my father-in-law and sister-in-law came over for our wedding. I had gone up to London to meet them and we were to travel back down to Devon the same day. Bea was gracious and welcoming to this little English girl who was very nervous about meeting her prospective in-laws. She put me at my ease immediately. I grew to love her very much and enjoyed all the chats we had, many of which were about her life as a young girl in Taunton, Massachusetts.

These photos were taken when Brad was two weeks' old in August of 1979. We were living in Los Alamitos, California.

Birds and A Bug

Today I thought I would share some photos I took when we were on vacation in Florida a while back. It was a fun experience taking photos of birds we don’t get in our State, definitely a bird-lover’s paradise. Some of these were taken in the Everglades and at a Bird Rehabilitation Centre we found while driving down to Key West.

We found this beautiful Green Heron when looking around a Marina.

The Stork was having a fish for lunch under a pier in Sebastian.

A Brown Pelican found also in Sebastian.

We found these at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center in Tavernier.

As we did the Great Egret.

But now we are in the Everglades where there were so many photo opportunities to take Cormorants close up without using a zoom, that was an incredible exerience.

You would find many of them with outspread wings, drying them in the warm sun after diving and swimming for fish.

You might remember my post of the little Palm Warbler. I posted this photo some time ago having found an altered picture from when I was learning a few techniques on Paint Shop Pro. This is the original version I had been looking for.

And now for the bugs we found on the palm trees. Wow! Such interesting grasshoppers? Not actually sure if these are a type of grasshopper but they sure were interesting to look at.

I hope to go back down to Florida one day.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

SkyWatch Friday

I took these photos on the Manassas National Battlefield this past Saturday. I posted other photos from my evening there a few days ago. These I wanted to save until SkyWatch Friday.
SkyWatch is hosted by Tom, Sandy, Imac and Klaus. Thank you all for such a great site. It has opened my eyes as I am looking up to the sky more than ever before, and how beautiful it is.

Please visit Skywatch to see some truly great photos from all over the world.

It's raining!

I will be using my umbrella this morning. When I looked out the window it was pouring out there. It's been a while since the last rainfall. Our grass was starting to look a little brown so I am happy to see it. I like the rain just as long as it knows when to quit.

The temperature is 66°F. It is supposed to get up to 74° . Considerably cooler than it has been. Fall must be around the corner.

I am off to work in a little while. I hope you all have a great day. See you later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Whole Foods

One of the places Gregg and I enjoy shopping at is at Whole Foods. Our closest is just under five miles away and I decided to take some photos last time we were there. I take them from basket handle level so as not to disturb the shoppers, but really the place is big enough that no one is in anyone else's space.

Gregg is trying to buy some Linguiça, a favorite of his which is a Portuguese pork sausage. Gregg always remembers his Step-Grandfather Johnny every time we buy it. He was of Portuguese descent and I think that is where Gregg first tasted the sausage, on his trips with his Mother up to Taunton, Massachusetts, when they visited her mother and Johnny. I only met Johnny once, when Gregg was stationed in Newport, Rhode Island back in 1977, and we drove up to Boston for me to meet Johnny. He took us to Fenway Park and we watched the Red Sox play a double-header - Carl Yastrzemski was one of the players in those days, a Johnny favorite. Johnny was one of the nicest people I had ever met, a great guy.

Here Gregg patiently waits in the meat department but the lady with the cell phone to her ear has put in a rather large order. He decides to go back ten minutes later but she is still there. Half an hour later after we had had a good look around and done most of our shopping, he checked again and she had gone.

It is a super nice store and fun to look around. So much to see and check out.

Next stop Gregg at the cheese department.

That night we had a Ploughman's for supper. One of those meals where you can safely say the simplest things are the best, basically good hardy bread and a wonderful variety of cheeses, accompanied by an organic vegetable salad, with pickled onions and chutney.

We head out to the check-out but on our way Denise 'checked out' her favorite, the chocolate counter and no I didn't buy any. Maybe next time?
Well, says I sighing, if I can't bring myself to buy any, at least I can take a couple of photos.

Cod Liver Oil? Doesn't taste as yukky as I thought.

I have been asked a few questions now about what are the benefits of taking Cod Liver Oil. It has come up in the conversation several times lately. At work we're at that age where we have loads of aches and pains and yes we joke about it, and have all agreed that back in our younger years when we used to listen to 'older' people talking about various ailments (actually our parents and their friends who were probably only in their 50's like we are now), we would grown and roll our eyes and say we'll never ever do that when we get to their age. Well, guess what, I'M THERE and so are several of my friends apparently. One such conversation yesterday ended up with me saying that "I have even started taking Cod Liver Oil!" The reaction? They looked at me like I had gone bonkers. I told them not to be so narrow minded and found myself telling them about Gregg's Dad, who is someone I greatly respect and admire.

Because my father-in-law told me that in liquid form it gets into the system faster, I chose the liquid instead of the capsules. He also said the emulsified is much better than any other but because it is harder to find in the stores, the Norwegian is the next best thing. I’m going to have to ask him as I am not sure what the difference is. He is in his 80’s and believe me he has the stamina of a man in his 40’s. Gregg and I often say we wish we had half his energy. He researches everything at great length and follows a very healthy life-style, and he has been taking Cod Liver Oil for the last 20 years.

First and foremost I would strongly advise anyone to go to their doctor and ask for a professional medical opinion before putting anything into their mouth. There are definite pro’s and con's in taking the oil and if people have certain health issues, our doctor is always the one we should check with first before taking anything. This will be on my list of questions the next time I go for my annual check-up. I am always nervous about going to the doctor and tend to forget the questions I want to ask. "White Coat Syndrome" I think it is called and with all due respect to you wonderful doctors out there, my blood pressure goes up a notch or two when I walk through your doors. Now I write everything down on a 2 x 4 inch card. I am thankfully at that age now where I don’t care if I look silly - our doctors should understand. It helps get us through our time together faster.

Anyhow, this is what I bought from Whole Foods the other day.

And this is what I read on the health benefits of taking Cod Liver Oil

"Healthy skin
Strong bones and teeth
Healthy joints
A healthy cardiovascular system
A healthy nervous system and prevention of depression and other mood disorders
A healthy lining for your digestive tract

DHA is a fatty acid that is essential to the health of your nervous system and eyes. It is vital to preventing depression. If you suffer from intermittent or chronic depression, this is one nutrient that you want to get every single day. If you want to get pregnant or are pregnant, you need to eat foods with DHA on a regular basis in order to support proper development of your baby’s nervous system and prevent depression during pregnancy and after the baby arrives. I am convinced that the vast majority of cases of post partum (after delivery) depression can be avoided just by taking cod liver oil each day.

(I'm going to add something here. If anyone is pregnant, too much Vitamin D can be bad for yours and the baby's health and your doctor needs to be the one who should advise you to take it or not to take it, just like everything else.)

EPA is a fatty acid that promotes a healthy cardiovascular system and decreases inflammation throughout your body. Its anti-inflammatory properties makes EPA especially helpful to people who suffer with arthritis. EPA is also closely linked with your emotional health, with many studies showing that it plays a strong role in preventing depression.

Vitamin A is necessary for proper vision, healthy skin, and strong mucosal linings, including the lining of your digestive tract. Many skin and digestive disorders cannot fully heal without a reliable supply of vitamin A.

Vitamin D is essential to maintaining strong bones and teeth. It enhances the strength and efficiency of your immune system, which decreases your risk of developing autoimmune conditions. Vitamin D helps your body regulate its blood sugar levels, playing an important role in preventing type II diabetes. Finally, vitamin D is one of several nutrients that are necessary for preventing high blood pressure.

One site actually said though that if you want to take more than two teaspoons per day of Cod Liver Oil, he recommended that you visit your doctor or a laboratory where you can have your vitamin D status tested. Having too much vitamin D in your blood can be harmful to your health.

There is an interesting article I found at the Mayo Clinic website here.

Another interesting site here. Be sure to read the part where it talks about the risk factors.

Another one here.

And lastly, another article here. Lots of benefits but look at the downside paragraph

When all's said and done we should make our own minds up but for now I am going to try it for a little while and see how it goes. And I'm making that appointment with the doctor this week.

Evening walk on the Manassas National Battlefield

Saturday evening Gregg and I enjoyed a nice long walk over the Manassas Civil War Battlefield. It is only 10 minutes away from home by car. Unlike its history it is a very peaceful place and that time of the day, apart from one or two stragglers earlier on, we had the whole area to ourselves.

We came across this beautiful solitary deer who didn't seem to mind us being there. I had my zoom and was careful not to get too close. I took lots of pictures but was disappointed that several came out rather blurry. Not sure of the settings for that half-light and really do need educating in that area. It's on my never-ending list of photography know-how list.

He was just gorgeous and when my photos don't turn out the way I want them to, I have to remind myself that the best camera is the mind's eye, and to enjoy the moment of being in such close proximity to one of nature's children.

Eventually his ears picked up a sound in the distance and I watched as he went off to investigate. My moment with friend the deer was over. The last photo of him is blurry but it has an artsy effect that I like.

The other photos were taken of this and that.

I found an empty bird's nest and after studying it for a while I noticed that there were dozens of shedded skins of what I think are cicadas all over the trees. The insects were very noisy, grasshoppers, cicadas? Who knows. You might be able to make them out when you click on the photo to enlarge it. This link takes you to a page of information on Wikipedia, and if you scroll down a little you can watch a time-release photo show of a cicada shedding its skin.

It was a lovely walk and we are looking forward to our next one. Anybody who is interested in Civil War history may find this page interesting.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A quick pop in and then I am off to bed.

Not too much tonight. The day went well, we were a lot busier than yesterday and I got home a lot later. Gregg will be working in DC all week and he took one of his short-cuts home this evening, which passed by one of his favorite eateries, a Vietnamese market/cafe. They do a meatball sandwich Vietnamese style. He loves them. He called to ask if I wanted one and I said not really, sounded good but I wanted something a little plainer and lighter tonight and I fixed myself a sliced tomato sandwich. I really didn't want anything else.

I started off by taking a tablespoon of Norwegian Cod Liver Oil. It's a new regime. I have been listening to Gregg's Dad for years now. He has been taking it for at least 20 and he has researched many things for the health by reading a wide variety of information, Cod Liver Oil being one of them. I finally saw the light two days ago. You take a tablespoon of the oil and drink six ounces of pure orange juice afterwards. I was quite shocked that it didn't taste that yukky. In fact, as strange as it may seem, I quite liked it. I tried to persuade Gregg to try it but he is waiting to see the effects after two or three months before he will 'jump in'. Maybe if he sees me leaping tall buildings in a single bound he will be convinced? I guess I am the family guinea pig. So, dinner tonight and yes I was a bit tired, was: 1 Tablespoon of Cod Liver Oil, 6 ozs. 100% pure orange juice, two slices of grainery bread, just a smidgen of mayo and one vine-ripened tomato. I usually make it into a salad sandwich by adding all kinds of other goodies but didn't get past the tomato tonight.

And so I am ready for bed and I will once again say goodnight and wish you all Sweet Dreams, hoping that you have had a wonderful day. I look forward to catching up on my blog reading tomorrow.