Not This Year

Hello friends! This is a short post just to let you know that I won’t be blogging every day in March as part of the month long writing challenge.

In 2011 I participated in my first March Challenge and continued to write almost every Tuesday and every March. I have made dear friends through blogging. I will continue to read slices this month, but I won’t be writing any beyond today. I am taking a break. (Yes, I know I started this break months ago.) 🙂

Have a great month of blogging!

 

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Nature Down Under

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What image(s) come to mind when you hear the word, Australia? I immediately begin to think about all the animals unique to Australia. What a thrill it was to see animals in the wild! Today, I give you a glimpse of the wonders of nature from Australia.

My first koala in the wild! This was taken on Kangaroo Island. Funny thing is we didn’t see any kangaroos.

This lorikeet paid no attention to the oohs and ahhs of the tourists mesmerized by the colors of the bird and the unique flower that was providing lunch.

The Adelaide Botanical Gardens did not disappoint. I wish we’d had more time to wander. I have a video on  my phone that I wanted to put here, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to do this. The birds were not visible, but their chatter was deafening. Sorry 😦

A highlight of our trip was a tour along a portion of The Great Ocean Road. What a day! The Twelve Apostles were worth every moment of the long ride.

That is a wallaby in the photo on the bottom left. Can you see the baby in her pouch?

I love bird watching in Australia! Their colors are incredible!

The following photos are from several different wildlife preserves.

The top is a goanna. The bottom is a kingfisher, a wombat (I did see one in the wild, but didn’t get camera out fast enough 😦 ) , and a cassowary.

Top left is a Tasmanian Devil. I do not know what the birds are, but those legs are amazing. Bottom left is an echidna and the rock formation is in the Blue Mountains, The Three Sisters.

The butterflies were in the butterfly house in Kuranda. That is a fern growing in a tree (also in Kuranda).; The lizard fellow startled us in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, it is a baby water dragon. The other photos are also from the Brisbane gardens. The larger one is a fig tree. Those are figs hanging on the trunk. The ground was littered with figs. I don’t know what the other tree is, but I loved the way it looked.

There you have it, some examples of the uniqueness of Mother Nature in Australia.

The People

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We boarded the plane at 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday. We disembarked the plane 8:30 a.m. Thursday, but in real time only fifteen hours had passed. Yes, we traveled past the International Date Line. We were now in Sydney, Australia waiting to be transported to our cruise ship which was to be our home for the next thirty days.

Our transportation delivered us to the cruise terminal, but it was too early to begin the boarding process. We were too exhausted to wander the quay so we found a bit of shade and waited as our tired eyes took in the sights of Sydney’s Harbor Bridge. Eventually we were permitted to enter the terminal to wait for our group number to be called.

Hundreds of people sat waiting. We found a couple of empty chairs. Gazing over the crowd, I wondered who would we meet and what was their story? We met some incredible people and the stories of their lives are amazing.

Dave and Roxie: They are from Wisconsin, not far from where my parents grew up. We met them as we waited in the terminal before boarding. They had been in Sydney a few days before the cruise, so they were not as brain dead as we were on that first day. We met up again with them several days into the trip and formed a friendship. We were both going to be on the ship for thirty days.

John and Daphne: This couple lives in Brisbane. When they were younger, John had worked for the government in various international cities. He had quite the tale to tell of being kidnapped in Brazil and left alongside the road stark naked when the kidnappers realized he didn’t have any money. Fortunately, the kidnappers left his car with him, but tossed the keys away so they could escape. John was able to find the keys and get back to the apartment parking garage so he could call Daphne to bring him some clothes. They were only on the ship for fifteen days.

Helen and Steve: They are from Liverpool, England. Music trivia was their forte. Every evening, they amazed us with their knowledge of musical groups. They would only be on the ship for the first fifteen days, then they were heading to New Zealand to visit her sister and tour the islands. They were not returning home until the spring.

After fifteen days, we sadly said good-bye to Daphne, John, Helen, and Steve. Music trivia was no longer fun without our new friends, plus our knowledge of song titles/groups was weak. Roxie, Dave, my husband, and I moved over to afternoon general trivia on the second half of our trip. That was a smart move.

Mo and Celia: This couple is from Perth, Australia. They were looking to join a trivia team and we welcomed them to our team. Two couples from the US needed an Australian couple for questions related to Australia. What a lucky day that was!

Mo was born in Yemen and moved to England when he was around ten when war broke out in Yemen. Celia lived in London. Mo was a teacher, Celia a nurse. They were tired of the dismal weather of England so they moved to Australia because Celia’s sister lived there. Mo was a storyteller. Everyday, after trivia we were entertained by his stories/jokes.

Fran and Steve: This couple lives in Maryland, but lived most of their married life on Long Island, New York. They are trivia aficionados! Occasionally, I was able to contribute an answer or two. Their knowledge enabled us to win  several times. How did we get so lucky to connect to such smart people? (Sadly, I didn’t get a photo of them.)

These people became our circle of friends on a ship of 1900 passengers. It’s amazing how stories of lives lived in different parts of the world connect. What a trip!

 

One Tweet, One Word

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My words have been absent for six months. Is there a good reason? Not really. I just didn’t write. I didn’t look for those moments when life surprises you, entertains you, touches you.

My last slice was in June. Then life became a snowball, picking up speed and size rolling down a hill so fast I could hardly catch my breath. Writing/blogging was pushed aside. Then when I did catch my breath, it was easier not to write.

I mentally played with the idea of not ever writing again.  I thought about writing a final post and stepping away forever. But, something stopped me from doing that, yet.

Daily, I get an email from Twitter labeled Your Highlights. I always look at the highlights they send me, because I rarely go to their site and peruse through the multitude of tweets. So, I appreciate them sending me highlights. Yesterday, this was a tweet:

Just one word from a friend I’ve never met in person. Tomorrow. My response was – maybe. My mind played with the idea of creating a slice. What would it be? I started drafting in my head. Yes, I want to write about that. No, I don’t want to write about that. What would I write? This post is not what I mentally drafted. But, it will have to do for today.

I have another post playing in my mind, so I know I will be back. It felt good to but some words together again. Today, one word in a tweet sent me back to my computer. Thank you Terje!

Which Way?

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I confess, I may tend to have challenges when it comes to directions. Don’t tell me to go north, south, east, or west. Just tell me to turn left or right at Pizza Hut or the Dollar Tree.

I’m usually pretty good at following road signs, unless I am entering Indianapolis on Interstate 70, traveling east. I’m going to blame the signage rather than the driver.

I know I want 465N, I watch for 465N but there is no N. The sign says 465S, then another one appears with just 465. I stay the course looking for 465 N. As the two highways run parallel, I spot 465N now appears on the sign, but I can’t get to that road any longer. 😦

Oh good, it says 465N in fifteen miles. Slight relief washes over my body. I’d like to find an exit so I can consult my map (yes, it is a map that one folds), but this does not look like an area I want to be in by myself.

I have a decision to make: Columbus, Ohio or Chicago, Illinois. I choose Chicago, but now my highway is no longer 70 but instead I am on 65. Thoughts are tumbling around my mind like clothes in a dryer. I’m concerned that I might end up in a dangerous neighborhood since I don’t know this city.

Finally, I can exit to get gas and check my map. It looks like I’m close to finding 465N, so I get back on the road. Two miles later I find my highway, finally I am through the city and back on the right route.

One of these days, I will breeze through the city with no panic attacks. This was not the year. Maybe next year. 🙂

 

Hot Time

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The weather man warned excessive heat Saturday and this time the weather was accurate.

7:30 My husband and I left the house to man a 100 mile bike rest stop. We stopped for two large bags of ice to fill the water cooler. Fortunately, our location was a pavilion that had electricity. We brought a heavy duty fan just so we could keep some air circulating. The temperature was 82, but with humidity at 65%, it felt like 85. I know that doesn’t sound too hot, but it didn’t take much to break a sweat.

By the time they reached us, riders pedaled thirty-three miles. They would need some snacks. We had lots of options:

  • bananas
  • black grapes
  • cookies
  • cheese sticks
  • dates
  • pb & j crustables
  • watermelon cubes
  • sliced pickles

Our first rider rolled in about 9:00. At first it was a trickle of riders, but soon the dam burst and they swarmed the table of snacks. It was a challenge to keep the food stocked. Watermelon cups with a pickle chaser seemed to hit the spot. (Personally that sounds disgusting.)

It looks like I have a sunburn, but that is not the case. This is just redness from being hot.

By 10:00 the air is heating up, it feels like 90 degrees. At 12:30 it feels like 96 degrees.

Now, there are fewer riders, these riders won’t be completing the 89 or 100 route.

Water bottles are filled, but also dumped on top of their heads.

By 2:00 the last rider has passed through our rest stop. We pack up to return our leftover supplies.

It’s been an interesting day. Riders were not just from our state. There was a couple from Michigan on a tandem bike. It surprised me that there weren’t very many women riding. One of the riders was our dentist. He was surprised to see us. Another rider was a local meteorologist with a local TV station. He did not have good news for the future temperatures cooling off. However, it was amazing to see how many riders were over sixty-five! They are hard-core bikers who ride a lot. The heat didn’t seem to matter to them. Kudos to those who are so fit!

Even though it was a blistering hot day, it was a lot of fun.

Audio Journey

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One week from today, I will be packing my bag to begin the journey toward northeast Indiana to spend several days learning from experts in reading and writing (and hanging out with blogger friends). The past few years I’ve had company on this road trip. Lots of conversation to pass the time as the miles slip by. However, this year I will be on my own as I travel east, so I thought perhaps a few audio books would fill the hours on my 500+ mile journey. I shared this plan of listening to books on CD with my husband, and he says, “You better enjoy this, because this will probably be the last car you have with a CD player. They aren’t putting them in cars anymore.”

My reaction to this news, “What?!” (What am I going to do (whenever we get a new car)? How will I listen to my CDs of Trans Siberian Orchestra when we drive across the country at Christmastime and my favorite other CDs? I found this news very disturbing. A way of listening would be ending. With that thought, I started thinking about my audio life.

It started in Chicago with a small transistor radio pressed next to my ear listening to WLS. The volume always went as high as possible when the first notes of  Lightnin’ Strikes by Lou Christie rang out. Not sure what it was about this song that I loved, I still sing along if I ever hear it.

The transistor radio led to getting a record player and lots of 45s and albums. I listened to them a lot. If I was in my room, I had something playing on the record player. Eventually I saved enough money to buy a small stereo system where I could load several records at a time to play. I can’t tell you how many Petula Clark albums I had (perhaps I still have them 🙂 ). When I found a singer I loved, I immersed myself in that person’s music. Here’s a link to Petula singing Downtown on Dean Martin’s show (if you watch it, you have to get through the intro with dancers before she comes out).

I never owned an 8 track player, I went straight to cassette tapes. Now my music could travel along with me in a portable player. (It’s hard to travel with a stereo system 🙂 ).

I was happy with the cassette system, but then CDs came along to make it even easier to listen to my personal choice in music. I think that’s where I’m stuck in the audio world. I never understood MP3 players and I am clueless to downloading music. Since I don’t get the download music, you know I don’t have music on my phone or iPad and I wouldn’t know what to do with an ipod.

So what’s going to be next in this audio world? It took me over fifty years to get to where I am now. I’m just not sure I’m up to the task of developing a whole new way of listening.