Random, Travel

Days of Wonder

Some things you’ve thought about doing for a long time aren’t always what you’d hoped they’d be, but that isn’t what we found to be true of an Alaskan cruise. Our seven days on Admiralty Dream exceeded expectations and took us to places full of wonder.

Most Alaskan cruises focus on southeast Alaska, particularly the area between Sitka and Juneau. Ours began in Sitka where there is evidence of both Russian and Tlingit culture.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs with other places we would visit, much of Sitka’s economy depends on fishing for halibut, salmon and rockfish.

On our short stay here, we hiked a rain forest to become familiar with the growth common to the area and which is a food source for the wildlife.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe days of wonder began when Admiralty Dream left the dock at Sitka and headed to open water and sights startlingly beautiful.

As lovely as snow capped mountains were clouds hanging low splitting the mountains in half.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough it doesn’t seem so, most of the mountains are higher than 5,000 feet which explains the snow. At that height, precipitation is snow and ice whereas at lower levels it becomes rain.

Because of those rocky surfaces rain cannot be absorbed so it is not unusual to see water cascading down the mountain creating some pretty impressive waterfalls. Should there be a few days without rain, rare I’m told, the waterfalls disappear.

 Along the coast we stopped in places where we were exposed  to new opportunity for discovery whether it be beachcombing

or learning about the Tlingit culture that has existed in southeast Alaska for hundreds of years.

p6027463Theirs is a complex, socially organized matrilineal society whose stories and tradition are communicated in many ways. Tlingit stories that have been passed down through generations enhance knowledge of the physical changes that have occurred in southeast Alaska over the years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is impossible to capture the experience of seven days in one post, so you will have to come back for more about the days of wonder.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

entertainment, musings, Random

Hamilton: My Take

23658880_2002841116409422_3647036226683360056_nWhen there is as much hype surrounding an event as has happened with the block buster show Hamilton, one can only wonder if it is as good as advertised.  The answer is an enthusiastic YES! I held off going during its Houston run because the tickets are pricey, but at the last minute there were some single seats available for a somewhat reasonable price, and I bit ending up with a great seat close to the stage.

What immediately grabbed me is the energy of the production which the audience responded to in kind.  Throughout the performance, theater goers were showing their appreciation with cheers and hands together.  I was among them, but there was something else that generated my response, and that is the sheer genius of the show.

41Va8thFjQL._SL500_As the story goes, the creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, was inspired by Ron Chernow’s book Hamilton.  Now, I read the book and while I learned much about Alexander Hamilton and his contemporaries, I got so bogged down in detail that I couldn’t imagine being creatively inspired.  Thankfully, Miranda did not have the same response.  As a result, he presents American history with a lesser known founding father, Hamilton, as the central character surrounded by the more familiar Washington, Jefferson, Madison and others.

There is no question that Hamilton is successful theater, but I think it is more than that.  It is a reminder that perhaps we don’t know as much about history as we might.  Alexander Hamilton has been little more than a blip on the screen with reference to him being that he was the first Secretary of the Treasury and that he was killed by Aaron Burr.  What the play does is enlarge his role among the founding fathers and engage an audience by entertaining with fact.  There were a lot of young people in the theater, and I doubt they were thinking about Hamilton being a learning opportunity but there it was. As I observed their faces and responded to their cheers, I couldn’t help but wonder if they might be inspired to pay more attention to history and current events if it were presented more creatively.

Not often do I leave theater with so many thoughts swirling in my head.  I have such appreciation for Chernow for having written a book about a relatively obscure historical person and for Miranda whose unique creative response has had such impact.  Not everyone will have the opportunity to see Hamilton on stage, but I’m betting its influence will be felt far and wide.  It is not theater that I will soon forget, and it will be interesting to see what the followup is.

Oh, if you happen to have opportunity to see the show, I recommend listening to the music in advance as it makes it easier to follow during the performance.  The soundtrack is on uTube.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

musings, Random

What’s a Parent to Do?

“Mom, Dad, you guys need to start getting rid of some of your stuff.”  

These are the words we are hearing often from our daughters.  While they may be right, here’s what we hear in those words.

  1.  You are getting old.
  2.  We don’t want to have to deal with it when you can’t.
  3.  We don’t want any of it.

Now, there’s probably some truth in all of that, but none of it feels very good.  And, it makes me a little sad that none of what we have seems important to our kids.  There was a time when things were passed down, but these days it appears that is not the case as adult children enjoy more collecting their own things.

So, what’s a parent to do?  Well, the easiest thing would be to donate the unnecessaries.  Eventually, I will do that, but for now I still enjoy having a garage sale.  Of course, you sell for pennies on the dollar, but people who buy think they are getting a good deal and I like the interacting and the deal making which is a big part of a garage sale.

IMG_1008While some clever person actually published a wonderful book of garage sale photos, I’m probably not that ambitious, so I focus on the presentation as if I were doing a shop.

IMG_0991Clothes are carefully organized by style, size and gender.  A simple rack the hubby made for me back in the days when I did shows displaying my woven pieces has been invaluable for garage sales.

IMG_0993The same is true for another of his clever creations which works perfectly for arranging accessories.

IMG_0990Household and kitchen goods are arranged just so making it easy for shoppers to see without having to move things around.

IMG_0992Books are always a challenge, and no matter how orderly I arrange them it doesn’t take long for them to be all askew.

IMG_0999At the end of the day most of the stuff is gone, and I feel good about having gotten rid of some of what the girls don’t want to have to deal with.  My only disappointment is that this top didn’t sell.  Maybe all the stories that go with it mean that it should stay with me for at least one more Christmas dinner!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

musings, Random

It’s Time

It is not often I share personal opinions on my blog as it is safer to write about food or travel or art. The recent tragedy at Parkland High School, however, compels me to speak out because it is silence that keeps change from happening. One thing I know for sure is that these senseless killings must not continue and our voices must be heard.

Americans own more guns than people in any other country.  We’ve not had them in our house, and in these parts that may be the exception rather than the norm. Now I have no problem with regular people like you and me owning guns provided they are gotten through appropriate channels and used primarily for recreational purposes. That does not include shooting aimlessly into a crowd of people. What I do have a problem with is the seemingly easy access to high powered automatic assault rifles.  Couple that with mental illness and there is a recipe for disaster as evidenced in the mass killings that have occurred since Columbine.

Why politicians have been so slow to address these tragedies with more than a sympathetic comment or two is beyond me, but maybe, just maybe, the current response of this country’s teenagers will get their attention. This is not a time for left vs. right or Republican vs. Democrat. It is a time for every effort to be made to stop these acts of uncalled for violence that rock the country. For sure, there must be more rigid controls and background checks that make it harder for anyone to buy weapons, but that alone will not prevent another tragedy. 

In the near term, maybe we as individuals can have an impact by supporting those businesses like WalMart and Dick’s Sporting Goods that are pulling assault rifles from their inventory. We can choose to acknowledge our approval of and do business with those like Delta and United airlines, Hertz, MetLife, Wyndham and so many others who’ve withdrawn their support from the NRA. We can let our elected officials know that it’s time for them to take action.

It is time for all of us who call America home to come together to help create a safer place to work, go to school, attend concerts, walk in the park. I’d like to think that can be done without arming teachers who have no experience with guns. Am I an idealist? Yes, but I believe in the goodness of people and think that together we can help right some wrongs. Won’t you join me?

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Entertaining, Food, Random

From the Kitchen

OK, you know the table is set so what’s for dinner?

I had in mind a chicken dish served over polenta, but Houston temperatures have been a little wintery which made me think of comfort food, something warm with crusty bread.  What eventually came from the kitchen was somewhere between a stew and a soup which one of the dinner guests cleverly suggested calling a “stoup”!

The dish proved to be a simple one that took little time to put together.  If you are like me, that’s always a plus and makes the recipe worth sharing, that is if I can remember all the ingredients.

Chicken Stoup

4 boneless chicken breasts, halved

flour, salt and pepper

1-2 T. olive oil

1 onion, coarsely chopped

10 garlic cloves, minced

diced tomatoes, 28 oz. can

carrots and mushrooms, sliced*

4-5 bay leaves

1/3 c. each white wine and chicken broth

1-2 t. red or white wine vinegar

*Use your own judgement as to how much.  I used a heaping handful of baby carrots and 1 c. of mushrooms.

Dredge the chicken breasts in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  Brown in olive oil.  Remove chicken to a plate and add onion and garlic to pan.  Cook until onion is soft and lightly browned.  Add wine and broth and cook for a few minutes until liquid has been reduced by half.  Add remaining ingredients and place browned chicken on top.  Cover the pan and cook until chicken is tender.

Place the chicken in warmed bowls.  Add 1-2 t. wine vinegar to liquid and spoon over the chicken breasts.  To add a little color, embellish with coarsely chopped spinach leaves.  That was an afterthought since I didn’t have parsley or basil.

Serve with crusty bread and a simple green salad.  Makes 6 servings.

Whether for friends or family, Chicken Stoup will get moans of appreciation.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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at home, Holiday Decor, Random

Coming Home

It was good news to hear that our daughter who lives away from Houston would be coming home to spend a few days with us before Christmas.  The last few months have not been easy for her, so my thought was to make her visit as warm and cozy as could be.

With its red walls, her old room is an easy one to make look season friendly.  A winter throw is tossed on the bed and Santa will watch over her.

Like so many other things I have, Santa has been around for a long time and has a wonderful memory attached.  I had gone to Oklahoma with a friend.  On the return to Houston we made a journey of several hours stretch into the night by stopping at any and every place that looked of interest.  If you guess that Santa came from one of those stops, you’d be right!

A few more little touches and the room is ready.  Greenery and berries add touches of color among the birdhouses.  

These two are part of my rather large collection but are too big to be displayed with the rest.  

That’s OK because they are right at home sitting on a quilt, one of many made by my grandmother.

Speaking of quilts, so many made by different family members have ended up with me.  Like with other textiles, I can’t bear to leave them wrapped in a closet and find ways to have them out.  Somehow I feel they are a significant part of my heritage.

Getting back to preparing the room, there is a present or two left on the bed in the hope there is something there that will brighten the daughter’s day.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Diggin’ It & Dishin’ It

Holiday Decor, home, Random

Keeping It Simple

I like the holidays as much as anyone, but for the last several years I’ve enjoyed keeping the associated decor simple. From my still sizeable array of Christmas goodies, something different is brought out each year, and I delight in choosing what to feature. This time the focus is on nativities which are among my favorite things.

Our mantel is barely more than an architectural detail, but it proved to be just right for arranging a good part of the collection.

As each one went to its place, I took a moment to recall its story.

In the days when I participated in holiday shows I always had my eye open for a new nativity to add to a growing collection so many of them came from other vendors.

I particularly liked finding sets from another country that likely had been handmade.

This was the very first nativity I bought so it is years old. I laughed at the chewed wooden legs remembering our first dog. What a character he was and he left behind much evidence of his presence!

Flat surfaces are not abundant in our house, but there are enough to have a nativity on every one.

As each one came out of its box, I began to see a common thread.

Most are handmade and tend toward folk art.

The last to find a place is my favorite. I found these pieces a couple of years ago when we took a boat trip from Maine to Nova Scotia. I was blown away by their detail and the wonderful use of color. No matter where or how the set is displayed, it tells a wonderful story and I am so grateful to the hands that created it.

So there you have most of my holiday decorating and by keeping it simple, each and every one of these nativities invites a look.

I so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind