Sunday Post: Nature

Is nature natural or just outside?  Are objects of nature found inside a building still considered nature?  Jake always makes me think!

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The nature we have here in the California Central Valley is anything but natural in most places.

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The 600-mile long California Central Valley has been plowed and remodeled to grow every crop imaginable.

SFW TC Spring 2013078rOne of many valley crops, peach trees, deposed native oaks found in the Kaweah River Delta over one hundred fifty years ago.  For more agricultural facts click here.

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Between the Kaweah River Delta and Sierra Nevada mountains, alfalfa replaced nature’s native grasses.

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Cows in the foothills still eat grass until it dries, but the variety differs from what grew here in the 1850s when Thomas Henry Davis brought some of the first cows from Mexico to Antelope Valley, near current-day Woodlake, CA.

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Evergreen orange trees first populated the Woodlake area in 1878, watered in part by the Watchumna Ditch, built in 1872.  Canals and ditches still carry life-giving water to arid fields.

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Last year the trees received enough water to stay healthy. This year farmers uprooted thousands of dead orange trees.

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Since this area thrives because of irrigation, when water reserves and underground water tables drop, farmers rely on water transported from Northern California.  The Kaweah River constrained by the Terminus Dam receded this year to expose a bridge built in 1938, foundations of homes, and wells.

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Man-made changes have obviously mixed with nature to create California’s Central Valley “nature.”  President Obama arrives tomorrow in Fresno to assess the drought’s damage to the Central Valley’s agricultural nature.

For more facts about Tulare County click here.

For more interpretations on Nature, click here.

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Sunday Post: Flowers

Jakesprinter always animates his challenges.

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I respond unanimatedly.  The topic this week is flowers, and what woman can resist that?  This first picture came from Pikes Peak Market in Seattle.  The assortment of flowers amazed us, and the price was so affordable that if I had shared a room with anyone, even for a few days, I would have purchased a bouquet.

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My friend Sally and I went to an iris festival last year.  Showy flowers like irises and roses seem to gravitate towards my camera.  The sun was much too bright on this May afternoon, so I darkened this picture some.

TC Iris Festival

Purple ruled my camera’s heart that day.

TC Iris Festival

How much more difficult it was to take beautiful pictures of flowers among the wildflowers in the foothills last spring.  This year I imagine there are none, and the grass is mostly dusty dried up blades.

Wildflower class

Wait for it.  Even my tripod got tired, but beauty is there.

SFW Wildflower class20130420_30 (1)When there are thousands of flowers from which to choose, is it any easier to find a good picture?Botanical Gardens

I looked through all my Botanical Garden pictures, and the same few are still my favorites.  My camera wasn’t as picky with these gems.  This time out, I picked a picture I haven’t shown you because it is so busy, and darkened the contrast to accommodate for too much sunshine.  You can imagine how overpowering it is to walk into and entire garden this beautiful.

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Flowers grab us and our cameras wherever they are.

Just so you know, our peach trees are starting to turn the fields pink here in Tulare County (no camera with me).  Downtown Visalia and Woodlake are in bloom already.  We are supposed to get snow in the mountains today which we need desperately.  How is your weather today?

By the way, I finished self-editing my book after two fairly solid months of work.  It turned out to be just over 61,000 words.  I am now ready to send it to a real editor to have it hacked up a little more, then I plan to self-publish it.  A friend asked me how I was going to market it.  I feel like I’m having a baby that is obviously not going to be living on its own right away, and I hadn’t counted on it needing so much loving care!

Sunday Post: Perspective: Best Luau Ever

Thank you Jake for this challenge to help me share my perspective of our luau experiences.  To learn how to enter your own posts about perspectives, visit Jake’s Sunday Post.

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From my perspective the luau we attended in Kauai on Friday, May 30, 2013 was the best we ever attended.

Luau Kalamaku in Kauai
Can you guess how I got this perspective?  No I wasn’t inside a bottle!  The answer is in one picture in this post, but you will have to guess. I didn’t label it as the answer!

The concierge at our Diamond Resort, The Point at Poipu, influenced our perspective when he told us LUAU KALAMAKU was the best luau we ever attended.

We're going to a hukilau.
We’re going to a hukilau.

We felt like expert luau attenders because we have had the privilege of going to several luaus on other islands over the years. The last luau we attended we decided would be our last.  From our perspective it was a waste of money.  We spent most of our time standing in long lines.  If I had just won the lottery in Florida, I would have a different perspective on the price of luaus.  However, from the perspective of my budget, luaus are ALWAYS EXPENSIVE, and the food in every other luau tasted just ok to #@%#@% from my Midwestern taste buds’ perspective!  (Did I say that out loud?)  Not only that, luaus are always buffets which from the perspective of a husband who hates people dishing food out of the same bowls was an experience to be endured and not enjoyed.  My mother and cousin Hal would have a different perspective on the buffet style service. The luau shows have been good, we usually had a back row seat which gave us a distant, and somewhat blurry perspective.  Nonetheless, this was Vince’s sister, Cindy’s, first trip to Hawaii, and we felt she should experience an Hawaiian luau from her own perspective.

Luau Kalamaku in Kauai

From the moment we drove in, we knew this one would be different.  No, it wasn’t cheap!  It wasn’t at a hotel, however.  First of all, there was no line, and beautiful people greeted us at every turn.  The requisite picture-taking took seconds, and again more smiling, gorgeous, hardbodied people appeared to pose with us.  We then entered the huge permanent tent structure where a polite and friendly usher escorted us to our assigned table, which was about 6 feet from center stage.  Our perspective would be excellent for the entire show.  All of us at our table happened to be from CA.

We were free to play until the show started.  From the perspective of a child this would make going to dinner a great experience.  As an adult, I didn’t come in from all the activities outside until they rang the dinner bell three times.  Outside of the tent were opportunities to play original Hawaiian games.  Cindy and I both tried bowling.  You had to throw a wooden disk between the same color pegs stuck into the ground about 10 feet in front of us.  The two girls demonstrated, then we were on our own.  We both bowled 150/300.  Not bad for 2 disks!   It’s all a matter of perspective!  My worst score in regular bowling was 9/300.  (Don’t ask!)

We didn’t take time to try any other games, but walked around to the different vendors.  Soon the show started – BEFORE the dinner.  In fact it kept going while the dinner salad and bread was served.  Singing and dancing continued while each group went to one of the four smoothly running buffet lines.  Yes, we still had to go through a buffet!  There was a brief intermission after everyone had received their food, and then the main attraction, the history of Hawaii’s settlement, started two hours after we arrived.  We hadn’t even realized that two hours had elapsed.  Our perspective would have been much different if the pre-food show hadn’t been so interactive.  Vince even took me to center stage to dance with full house of romantics.

The Playbill had the gist of the story.  I’ll summarize it for you.

A Polynesian father tells his daughter, Orama, that he and her fiancé were going with the other island men to Hawaii to seek a better life.  The long canoe trip would be long and dangerous across open waters with nothing to guide them, but the stars.   He prays to Akua for safe traveling and to watch over his daughter.

Devastated, Orama has a dream shown to her by Ka Uhane o Ke Kai.  In the dream she reunites with her love, Ari, and they have a child.

The arduous journey brings the island men safely to Hawaii.   Ari, in the meantime, has a dream of dragon ladies, a fire goddess, and her lover.  (I think he was working too hard.)  The industrious men produce abundant crops and find plentiful fish in the new land of Hawaii.

Father sends for his daughter, who arrives safely, marries, and has her dream child.

This story is skillfully set to ORIGINAL music with dancing in beautiful costumes.  The dancers are both young and old, and up close and personal.  Very personal!  (but modest, too)  Even from our perspectives as haoles, the musical story clearly explained how amazing it was that Polynesians discovered and settled Hawaii thousands of years ago.  The pictures aren’t nearly as clear, but from my perspective as a experimental photographer I think they are more than cool, so I’m including them.  Don’t look for any explanations!!!  🙂

After the end of the production, the actors posed with anyone in the audience who wanted to take a picture with them.  We tried taking one of Cindy, but we weren’t ready with the flash, and after two tries without one, Cindy grabbed her disposable camera, and we tried that.  I hope it comes out!

Anyone besides me have an astigmatism?
Anyone besides me have an astigmatism?  Why doesn’t someone come up with a challenge:  Blurry But Beautiful?

Now for some different perspectives.  Neither Cindy or Vince are known for their overwhelming enthusiastic endorsements.  Both come out of the luau showering praises all over the parking lot, and in the car all the way home.  It was “wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!” Cindy exclaimed.

“It was the best luau ever – BY FAR!” Vince raved.

If you are ever in Kauai be sure to go to the LUAU KALAMAKU.  You won’t regret it.  It’s the highlight of our trip.  I hope you enjoyed it as well, complete with totally weird pictures.  🙂

Here are some pictures of the grounds we took on a different day.

If you would like to visit Hawaii, and want a rent a two bedroom resort suite with an ocean view, email me at tchistorygal@gmail.com.

Sunday Post: Unforgettable

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Unforgettable means never to be forgotten, remarkable in a way that cannot be forgotten such as place, events or great memories.  As much as I forget appointments, and names these are some experiences I won’t forget.

I really thought parasailing was going to be much more thrilling frightening than it was.  I waited until the two little girls that were on the boat with us went first.  I figured if they could do it, I could.  V did  not want to try it.   It felt like I was in a squeaky Ferris Wheel seat that was a little too tight.  V was the one who was really having the unforgettable time.  This former Navy guy found out that boat rides on the ocean were better off forgotten.

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I tend to overestimate what I might like to can do.  I assume I will like it until I try it.  The next trip to Hawaii brought me another adventure I would never forget, and so I crossed it off my to-do list forever.  That smile was pained.  Riding up the dusty mountain was difficult, coming back down and trying to keep my mare on the path with the rest of the folks instead of careening off the path in search of greenery…

Revolutionary War Military Life

The final unforgettable memory I’m going to share today was from one of the most memorable weeks of my life.  A trip with teachers from across the United States to Colonial Williamsburg.  Every minute was packed with adventures.  In this shot we were learning how the soldiers cooked their food in outdoor ovens with a walk around path while they were on the battlefield.  Our week included visits to Yorktown and Jamestown as well.  If you like United States History, this is a place to spend some time.

Thanks for joining me for a few unforgettable experiences.  Jakesprinter has many more to share with you that will spark your ideas.

 

 

 

Sunday Post: On Going

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I have an ongoing need to wait until someone else has posted their response to a challenge before I am ready to take the challenge.  Do I have an ongoing fear of being the first, or am I just blank on ideas.  You’ll never know – because I don’t!!

Ongoing Concern for Safety

We have an ongoing need to be concerned for the safety for those entrusted into our care.

Ongoing need for vitamin D

We have an ongoing need for vitamin D that comes from a little exposure to the sun.  Manny only sits out for a few minutes so he doesn’t overexpose.  He fades!!!

Manny looks for healthy snacks.

We have an ongoing need for food.  Snack foods can be healthy, like nuts, fruits and vegetables, but Manny really wants something gooey and sweet.

Ongoing need to smell the flowers

Sometimes, even the Pope needs to slow down and enjoy life.  There are more flowers than roses to smell.

Ongoing need for love

The need for love is ongoing.  Everybody needs large doses every day!!!

Manny has given his best advice for an ongoing happy life.  What advice do you have to add?

For other ideas about what’s ongoing and what isn’t, check out Jakesprinter’s site.