Archive for January, 2009

30
Jan

Winning Hand

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Winning Hand

29 January 2009

I stayed an extra day in Florida.  It has been a very good week with my mother, and circumstances seemed to align to cause me to postpone my flight home for 24 hours.  Between the fun time in St. Augustine and the tire delays, and the fact that flights actually looked easier for Friday this week, than for Thursday, here I am.

We had a very relaxing day in which we visited, cleaned up the motor home from the trip, played with an IQ test (I did pretty well!) and played more Phase 10.  My photo is of Mama’s winning hand . . . or I should say one of Mama’s many winning hands!  It has been established that although I greatly enjoy the playing of it, this is not my game!  I cannot win no matter what!  We even played through a whole game with the understanding we were trying to all stay on the “same phase,” and still I didn’t come out the winner!  Even in the lucky chair!  My mother on the other hand, is almost as good at this game, as she is at finding random coins on the ground everywhere she goes!  Call it luck; call it divine intervention . . . I don’t know what to think, exactly, but it is amazing!

I have enjoyed my time here with her (and John) and now tomorrow I will go home to my husband who I miss so much.  And then, we are on the downhill slide toward Scarborough’s opening day.  The next eight weeks will fly by!

~MB

Tags:

29
Jan

A Winter Day in North Texas

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

28 January 2009
Winter in North Texas Mosaic
With startlingly accurate predictions, the weathermen forecast an "ice storm" for North Texas — and delivered. At the end of my drive home the night before, the rain was just turning to sleet and the air had developed a chest-gripping numbness to it. My boss, who had elected to stay at a local hotel rather than risk the 60+ mile drive home, had suggested as I left that I take early-morning stock and if the road were, in fact, icy to just stay home until it thawed. When I opened the back door to release the dogs from their over-night captivity and saw what Jack Frost had painted, I chose to honour his suggestion (upper left corner). Almost four hours later, the temperature still had not crested the 32 degree freezing point, but I prepared for departure anyway – work was beckoning and the mantra from on high is "if you’re not visible, you’re not working." The upper right and lower left photos show the ice already disappearing despite Mother Nature’s attempt to keep an icy grip on things. The two-hour, 16-mile trudge to the office afforded me little in the way of at-office work but I did what I could and then left with the sun still high in the sky. If the drive home were to be as long, I had no interest in making it after dark. The lower right photo is of the same garden as the upper right photo sans all the ice. Temperatures had climbed into the mid-40s allowing the stunning ice portrait to fade to nothingness leaving in its wake mud and pools of water to re-freeze overnight.
This is a very typical North Texas Winter Day. I’d trade all the ice for a simple 3-day snow storm.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 29 January 2009)

Listening to:
I’ve Been This Way Before by Neil Diamond
from Essentials

No Exif

Tags:

29
Jan

Stems

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

27 January 2009
Tuesday represented a frustratingly long day at the office wherein everything went wrong and nearly nothing went right. It left more questions than answers. A very brief stop at Rob’s resulted in more questions as my boss & a colleague of his joined me for what amounted to a "bitch & moan" session. Necessary at times, but large corporate-level questions cannot help emanate and swirl from meetings like this in conjunction with the over-abundance of closed-door meetings going on at the higher levels of the corporate campus. Truth is: we’re all a bit rattled and none of us are feeling particularly secure.
The photo is of a rack of wine glasses.
Grainy Stems
Seems like I have the ISO too high and the EV is off. Oh well.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 29 January 2009)

Listening to:
Love Cats by Cure
from Japanese Whispers

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 1
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 1600
Exposure Bias: +2 EV
Flash: Off

Tags:

29
Jan

Blurred Vision

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

26 January 2009
Monday. A day of beautifully grey skies & constant rain. I love days like this. I’m only sad that the day was spent inside the corporate fortress I spend most of every day in. The break from that occurred at the end of they day when I stopped, as I do, at Rob’s Sports & Billiards Bar for pint and a game. This is a photo of the Billiards sign as taken through a rain-soaked windscreen.
Blurry Billiards
Cheers.

~KR (WRitten on 29 January 2009)

Listening to:
Dixie Chicken by Michael O’Neill
from Who’s Bad Now?

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.025 sec (1/40)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 1600
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: Off

Tags:

29
Jan

The Garter

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

25 January 2009
Sunday.
My wife is in Florida. I don’t feel well. I didn’t do a darn thing all day…and it was glorious. I caught up on months worth of backlogged TV and football matches. I worked on websites I’ve been neglecting. I played with the dogs. And, at the end of the day, I took a photo of a garter I caught at a wedding in 1995.
Garter Lace
and that’s all.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 29 January 2009)

Listening to:
Tonight by TV On the Radio
from Return To Cookie Mountain

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.05 sec (1/20)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 1600
Exposure Bias: +1 EV
Flash: Off

Tags:

29
Jan

Another Day in St. Augustine and a View of the Atlantic

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Beach on the Atlantic

28 January 2009

Today’s weather in St. Augustine was a bit more like what I expect in Florida—too warm and too muggy for me to like it much. But, it sure does make Mama happy. The incredible fog we dealt with yesterday and into last night, was completely gone, and in its place a big, bright, beautiful blue sky and much higher temperatures.

The tire guy came just as promised, discovered a faulty valve stem and repaired it. Then, another Cracker Barrel breakfast and we were on our way back into downtown St. Augustine.

Being such a tourist destination, St. Augustine has two major options for guided tours of the city–the Ripley’s (Believe it or Not) folks, or the Old City Tours. (Robert Ripley’s first museum is here in St. Augustine.)  Both companies run “tram” style touring vehicles—like the little land trains most amusement parks use to move you from the car park to the front gate. We chose the Old City Tours, and bought tickets a level up from the basic tour, so our tickets not only covered us for two days, but admission to the Old City Jail and the History Museum were included in the price. Yesterday, we had jumped off and on the tour a couple of times, and on one segment, hadn’t been terribly impressed with our tour guide/driver, or his vehicle. Today, we were lucky! We are pretty sure we got the cream of the crop—a beautiful vehicle, with park bench-style seats and all lined in oak. And, more importantly, a driver who was friendly and well-spoken, and full of interesting tidbits of information about the history of his town. We enjoyed him so much, we refused to get off his train! We rode the entire length of the tour, without stopping for food or shopping, got to see America’s oldest tree(called The Old Senator due to its extreme “shadiness!”), and finally got off at the Old Jail, only when our guy, Friar Bob, was taking a break! Since that’s where we were really headed anyway, it was the perfect experience.  I snapped this photo of Mama and John as they waited for our tram.

The Old St. Augustine Jail represents state of the art incarceration facilities—from 1891! Built with money from Henry Flagler, like so many things in St. Augustine, it is restored to its original pink stucco exterior, and as it was in its day, made to look more like a hotel, than a prison. In fact, the sheriff and his family did live in the inviting, typically Victorian-looking front of the building. The jail, and the gallows are in the back!

The tour guides at the Old Jail are in turn of the century costume, and the maintenance workers are in black and white striped prison suits with “characters” to represent when dealing with the tourists. Mama and I spoke to one sad-looking black man wearing the stripes, who told us his story. He said he’d be obliged to us if we’d tell the sheriff he was innocent. He turned in a lost wallet, he told us. It had two dollars in it. But, when it was claimed, the owner said there had been three dollars in it when it was lost, and the black man was jailed. An all too familiar type of story in America’s past.

Our tour guide was an older gentleman—his character, a deputy sheriff. He treated his little group of us as though we’d been sentenced to a stay in his facility. He separated men from women, walked us into cells, and told us of the conditions we could expect. The men were warned that they’d be put on a chain gang, most likely, and would come back to the jail after their twelve-hour work day, hot, sweaty, dirty, and dog-tired. And, he told them they could even have a bath—once a month! Women were told we’d be working in the kitchen, or in vegetable garden, feeding the inmates and the sheriff’s family. There was no running water, and the cooking was all done on a wood-burning stove—no matter how hot the Florida day! We were all walked through the kitchen, and even allowed a rare peak at the living quarters for the family. When we were finally taken upstairs to the main cell block, our tour guide had a brief conversation with an audio-animatronic version of the sheriff before leaving us alone with him. When that speech was over, we were on our own to find our way out of the jail! I was pretty impressed with the effort that went into planning this flavour of living history presentation. It was delightful and took up a good hour or so of our day.

Next door to the Jail is the Florida History Museum. It presented a fairly typical museum experience, with a few dioramas, lots of glass cases, and much to see and read. Beginning with the coming of the white man and the native Indian folk they discovered here, through struggle after struggle for the swampy “Land of Flowers,” and right on into the era of statehood, railroads, and finally tourism—the beginnings of which were represented by a diorama including one of the first motor homes!  The “Tin Can” travellers were the adventurous folks of the 1920s, who converted their cars into the first RVs, and camped their way through the wilds of Florida! 

We got back on the tour tram after buying a souvenir for a friend, and a couple of batteries for my battery-eating camera, and rode it until we were near the spot where we wanted to have lunch. We walked a couple of blocks with the ocean on our left, to a little place called The White Lion, where we had the restaurant to ourselves, due to the fact that we’d missed the regular luncheon hour. We ate, then wandered our way around and through some more streets of the beautiful little downtown, and included a favourite little used and new bookstore in our travels. Mama bought a couple of books, one by a local author I need to learn more about—his name, Randy Cribbs. He seems to write about the area in particular, and I flipped through one book of his poetry and it is excellent.

We had come to the point, now, where most of the rest of the activities we would choose to do in St. Augustine, were going to require additional fees, and should have been started much earlier in the day. So, we made a group decision, that heading home was in order. As John was maneuvering the bus out of the downtown area, and I was marvelling at the beautiful clouds gathering to the west, we decided to take the coastal route south, at least until it got too dark to enjoy it. What a beautiful drive! We got to where we could see the Atlantic Ocean and had the waves to the left of us, and the lovely sunset to the right—fabulous. We pulled off at one point, for me to take photos, and soon thereafter it was well and truly dark.

We broke up the drive home with a stop at a favourite restaurant of Mama’s, The Holiday House, in DeLand. We were all really tired by the time we got home, and it wasn’t long before we were all headed to bed to dream about our St. Augustine trip, and lock it firmly in our memories.

~MB

Tags:

27
Jan

St. Augustine

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse

27 January 2009

We have just had a most delightful day here in St. Augustine, Florida. Our weather was a bit odd . . . cool, breezy and very foggy—all day! But, it certainly still allowed us to be outdoors and enjoy our sightseeing and shopping. That was not the case for Kyle today, I know, as he and all our loved ones in North Texas are dealing with ice and falling sleet or freezing rain, even now.

I am enjoying St. Augustine as much as I always thought I would. It is full of character and personality, and as such, is one of those places that has no good comparison. Most of my favourite cities are like that—one of a kind! New York, San Francisco, Santa Fe, London, Edinburgh, Paris—St. Augustine is much, much smaller than the others in this list, but charming nonetheless. And, it has the history to qualify for my list, as well. St. Augustine was the first permanent European settlement in North America, and claims the “oldest city in the US” title. First spotted by Ponce de Leon in 1513, this little peninsula was named La Florida, or Land of Flowers. After a few failed Spanish attempts at settlement, King Phillip II named Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, governor of Florida.

Menendez arrived off the coast of Florida, on August 28, 1565, the Feast Day of St. Augustine. Eleven days later he came ashore, set up camp, dubbed his new city St. Augustine, and chased out the French in a nearby settlement.  The little city grew and prospered, and in the nineteenth century came into its own as a tourist spot, with some help from Henry Flagler, who took on St. Augustine as his own and invested in its future very heavily. (Henry and his business partner, John D. Rockefeller, started a little company called Standard Oil!)

Today’s city still has at its very center, the “old town” of 18th century buildings, (earlier ones were all burned down in one or the other of two major attacks on the city), an impressive fort, and even part of the original city wall. (The segment of wall and the pillars from the gates, were saved by the DAR, in 1902, in America’s first recorded act of historic preservation by demonstration! Apparently the fiesty women dressed in black, encircled the ancient gates, and served tea to onlookers for two days to prevent the demolition.)

We rode the tourist trolley, which is a narrated tour around the city, learning little tidbits as we went along, until we were hungry. We jumped off the trolley and had a delightful lunch at the A1A Brewery and Restaurant, where I can now personally vouch for their Winter Ale!  We walked and shopped, and had a great time just enjoying the ambiance of the old city. It wasn’t long before we decided we just didn’t want to have to feel hurried, so why not stay another night?! That added even more to our enjoyment, because now, we could take our time with no worries. Tomorrow, then, we’ll complete the trolley tour (tickets are good for two days!) and visit the famous old jail and a museum or two.

As if  in justification of our decision to stay, it turns out we have a slow leak in a tire, and someone all lined up to come and take care of fixing it for us in the morning. So, we’re in a (different) Cracker Barrel parking lot; we had dinner, we played Phase 10 and giggled a lot, and now, all the lights are out except mine, as I write this. I am so pleased to be getting to spend this leisure time with my mama and John, and I do so wish Kyle could be here enjoying it, too.

~MB

Tags:

26
Jan

Lunch in Florida

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Mama and John at lunch

26 January 2009

Okay, I simply have to admit that the weather here is amazing!

We went out this morning to a choir rehearsal where I got to sing a beloved song I haven’t sung in decades! Then, we went to lunch at a charming place with as much Florida flavour as I can imagine. The Lake Mineola Tiki Bar served us some really tasty burgers as we gazed out upon the pretty little lake and sat under a large market umbrella. At one point I looked down and saw this little guy, a marked contrast to yesterday’s lizard!  And, when I looked up from my luncheon chair, I saw this lovely tree covered in Spanish moss.  The temperature was in the mid seventies, and a light breeze made the leaves sway a little bit.  It was really a lovely al fresco dining experience—reminiscent of my summer days in Wisconsin, only right now it’s about fourteen degrees there, and snowing I think!  I want my four seasons, but, I can sure see why people migrate to Florida!

I snapped this photo of Mama and John as we waited for our meals to arrive.  The two of them are really so cute, and they rarely have another person with them who can capture their cuteness with a camera, so I’m doing my part!  (I took these, one of each of them, the day I arrived.)

Right now, I write this while riding up Interstate 95 toward St. Augustine.  An historic old town, it’s one I got a quick taste of a couple of years ago, but have never really had a chance to enjoy.  So, we decided this afternoon to toss some stuff into the RV and do the drive tonight, have some dinner, and be there for a full day of fun tomorrow.  The bonus plan that just developed is that there’s a Chico’s store in St. Augustine we’ll visit tonight!  Woo hoo!

~MB

Tags:

26
Jan

Alligator Sighting

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

Alligator---big lizard

25 January 2009

Sunday in Florida.  With my family, that means attending church, and specifically, singing in the choir and hearing John preach.  I love to sing, and I especially love to sing church music, so for me it’s a bit of a treat.

After church, we had a delightful dinner at a nearby country club restaurant and then headed back home.  We had barely left the parking lot, when John cried out, “Look at the size of that alligator!”

Well, that’s all I needed to know it was time to get out the camera.  John pulled the car to the side of the road and I jumped out.  I’m not one to tempt fate, so I wasn’t going to get any closer than necessary.  Fortunately, my new camera has a decent zoom.

~MB

Tags:

25
Jan

The FA Cup

   Posted by: krmb    in Daily

24 January 2009
The Saturday dawned with the unfortunate necessity of work precluding, once again, my ability to make it to football practice – something I badly need to do as the season is only 8 days away and I’ve not touched a football since the mid part of November.
As I prepared a batch of reports and waited for the conference call to start, I put Setanta Sports on the television and watched a game that I’d previously had no great desire to see. It was an FA Cup tie between Doncaster & Aston Villa. These next words will make no sense to my American compatriots as they can’t quite understand how it’s possible for a game to end in a draw. I maintain, and have indeed had many an argument regarding this, that a well-played match that ends in a goalless draw is ever so much more fun to watch than a lopsided, lifeless game that ends with 6 balls in the net. This Doncaster v Aston Villa match was just such. A true David & Goliath story, it did not matter that no goals were scored. I was riveted to the screen in the best match I’ve watched thus far this year.
0-0
At 91:14 seconds, it was fairly obvious that this match would end in a draw, and to me, that means everyone wins. In the FA Cup competition (the oldest Knock Out competition in the world), when a game ends in a draw, that game is replayed 10 days later at the other park. That means for a minnow like Doncaster, the ability to travel to Villa Park and play on one of the biggest stages of their careers in front of many thousands of fans – and reap the financial benefits of such a journey. The fans win because they get to travel to Villa Park and watch their team on that huge stage. Aston Villa wins because they reap the financial rewards of staging the replay at their park. It’s a brilliant system that encourages and empowers small football teams like Doncaster to play the best football of their lives against the current heroes of the pitch in the form of the English Premier League. It’s a dream come true for players, coaches & fans alike. In addition to all that, it produces some cracking football that, for the neutral observer, is utterly breathtaking.
When the match, and the work were over, I went to No Frills Grill and waited for Terrill to join me. We played some trivia and poker on the Buzztime network, then went off to watch Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – a decent movie, but the direction was lacking. It could have been so much better. From there back to NFG for dinner then home to watch a boxing match.
What a strange, yet delightful day.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 25 January 2009)

Watching:
Banal bleating by Rafael Benetiz in the after-game commentary

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.077 sec (1/13)
Aperture: f/5.0
Focal Length: 18.6 mm
ISO Speed: 320
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: Off

Tags: