November 30, 2008

First video.

I feel a little foolish doing this because all through my childhood the family would make home movies. Well, as I remember it, it was mainly my Aunt Louise who would use the camera and if she had no suitable subject she would film the roses in the garden. The garden was large and there were roses of every color bordering the lawn, however when watching the films it was very boring to see rose, after rose, after rose.

I decided to try my hand at video because of the rather big puddles left behind by the rains and the pleasure Athena has when she can splash through water.

Having had to see the video a couple of time to figure out how to post it to my blog I can imagine how interesting this must be to you. My dog and more of my dog and then a little bit more.

For those of you who are emailing me at I need to let you know that I have not been receiving all my emails due to some malfunction of the outlook junk mail setting and therefore might not have responded. I am working on it. You can always use using same user-name.

Hope you get some enjoyment from watching my first video even if it's my dog, more of my dog and then a little bit more.

Watch for the big splash, I don't think she realized how deep it was there.

October 19, 2008

Dark clouds over the U.S.

We saw it coming but what can you do? Things come as they
will and all you can do as an individual is ride out the storm
and move on when things settle down. Chatted with a neighbor
at the hotel who told me about the devastation of Hurricane Ike
in Texas, where he was from. He had very little left.

Nature treated us to a little winter wonderland. It was a pleasant
surprise as I had not seen snow for about 12 years.

As soon as we were out of the mountains we were back in more
familiar territory. Now this I recognize!

When you see a peaceful picture like this
you can hardly imagine that out there we are
in an economic crisis, that there is a senseless
war being fought and that so many people do not have any
security for the future.
Maybe I am better off not watching television but I
consider that an ostrich policy. I read papers, listen to
BBC and NPR and check the internet for my information
but it hits me more when I watch TV.

Mesa Verde - totally fascinating how people could survive here.
Undoubtedly we will survive too whatever happens.

Shiprock near the Navajo Nation. One day I will make time to
visit the area to make pictures of the Navajo who are an
endless fascination to me. Perhaps I will one day learn how to
make the hollow, silver beads that they make on the reservation.

Canyon de Chelly, one of my favorite areas in Arizona and by this
time I am beginning to smell home on the westerly winds and my
longing for my own bed, my own cooking and my dog can hardly be contained.

This is 'Old Faithful' performing for us on time.

Blandness is not found in nature. What a magnificent orange-
red blast of color made by the bacteria in the geyser area.

Part of the ground surrounding geysers is
dead and white however other area display
amazing colors.

Can green get any greener?

A geyser belching gases smelling of rotten eggs.

Halloween house.

The journey goes on.

After so many picture of mountains I started to long for subjects
that were closer by. I like pictures to tell a story and that's
probably why I take picture of people. They always tell a story.

No changes made to this picture and am amazed at the bluish
hue it has.

The water was like a mirror and the reflection of the trees
are an impressionist version of the real ones.

It seemed that every day something else was in bloom or
changing color. We had yellow days, green days, red days,
copper days. This was a crushed pomegranate red moment.

Bison at last, and dozens of tourists most with enormous camera
lenses which put my equipment to shame. I can understand that
Yellowstone attracts photographers because of all the beauty
it offers.

Making pictures of water is always a challenge
to me. I wanted to show the swirling and the
splattering of the water itself, the white of the
water and the darkness of the debris and rocks.

This is an enormous country and only by traversing it do you
get some idea of it's vastness. Here I was attracted by the
black beef cows under a cloudless sky and a splattering of
pastels, grazing on the hay colored prairie.

4500 Miles of Color.

We traveled 4,500 miles at just the right time of the year to see the
fall colors change from green to yellow and then gold and amber
before the leaves started falling revealing the bare branches of the trees.

Every day brought new spectacular sights and if you are into color
as much as I, then you too would have seen colors that you can't describe
or name.

Yellowstone was everything they said it would be but it made me
yearn for Africa. I however doubt that wildlife viewing there is the
same as I remember it to be.

It wasn't only all about orange and yellow, the blues and grays
too made up part of the pallet.

I don't watch TV and living in hotels these past weeks
gave me the opportunity to watch the presidential debates, which
provided more than enough food for thought as I
watched Idaho, South Dakota, Montana pass by my
car window.

I took the liberty of giving this picture a little color because all
the postcards and pictures look exactly the same. While at Rushmore
I spoke to a man who had done well in real estate and we discussed
his concern about his money which could possibly be reduced to
a fraction with the insecurity on Wall Street and with the banks.

I discovered how hard it is to make mountain
views look original on photo. Composition and
depth of field are the only tools in my box that
I could use.

September 20, 2008

I may be living in a hotel.

I have only recently noticed the smartly folded corners on my toilet roll, the three towels beautifully arranged on the towel rack and some small ones decoratively rolled spa-style instead of my usual one just hanging there limply. Lots has changed this summer and one of the really good changes is Anna. While I run around trying to multi-task like I used to, but no longer can, Anna enters the picture in her quiet, unassuming way and takes care of everything. I never have to ask nor is there ever a reason for a comment. In addition, I am usually treated to Chile Relleno and home-made tortillas or something else more delicious than one would get in the best restaurant.

Maybe I can teach her how to do dishes.

....she has trouble turning the pages on her own. She really has to start learning to be a little more self-sufficient.

The Weimie.

Athena, in the meantime has finished her book and has gone on to her second. It keeps her busy while I am working. She has one big problem though....

...and you, with knobs on.

The kitchen cabinets are painted in a nice cheery color that I call 'Mango' (it is much brighter than in this picture which makes it look pink - how horrible!) and for good measure I added some happy knobs called 'Fiesta'. Now every day it's party time at 6 in the morning. It looks so much better than that bland, boring, nothing color I had before. I have done more in 3 months than in the 10 preceding years when work absorbed most of my attention....oh, and survival too. How soon one forgets.

Shiny floor - new carpet.

Having the floor poly-urethaned gave me a good reason to replace the carpet under the dining table. Athena really doesn't care because she liked the old one on which she could take her ice cubes to crunch. I am also having the sofas reupholstered. No one ever sits on them but I was done with the same old, same old. They are being delivered next week.

September 14, 2008

Travel in SA in the Fifties.

I found this picture in a box of things belonging to my grandmother. It was taken in the early 1950's on one of travels in South Africa. I remember we would bring along biscuits, sweets and cookies to hand out to the children along the way.

These days when I travel I always bring along 'bubbles'. I sit, blow bubbles and kids come from everywhere. It breaks the ice and I get happy, smiling faces on my pictures.

September 13, 2008

Take a look into my world.

I took this picture in KOFA. I have since stopped getting up at 4 to be out there by sun-up.

If you want to take pictures, watch birds, hike, picnic or camp on State Lands in Arizona your annual permit has increased from $ 15.00 to $ 50.00. However, if you have a gun to swing, take a couple of pot-shots and call yourself a hunter there is no fee. All you need is your hunting license. Does this make sense?

By the time Bush leaves the White House, the Dept. of Homeland Security is supposed to have the 670 miles of fence between Mexico and the U.S. finished. They are only halfway and elections are in November. Officials say that in order to finish the remaining fence they need $ 400 million more in funds and are complaining that they cannot find the labor.

Is this a wonder? The labor is on the other side of the fence!

Earlier this year AZ Game and Fish authorities killed a mountain lion in the Tank Mountains not too far from where I live. The mountain lion had killed 4 desert bighorn sheep and 5 mule deer (big eater this one) and needed to be put down. It was said that it was not the plan to eradicate the lion mountain population but a restoration of bighorn populations in the area.

What is it all about?

Hunters (who buy permits) hunt bighorn so in order for them to have their sport, let’s kill of some mountain lions.

How do you track a mountain lion? They are all fitted with GPS systems apparently so you can get the job done before lunch.

A car carrying 21 illegal immigrants rolled over when it tried to avoid going over a spike strip placed by the Border Patrol. Nine people died.

This is just one example because at least 290 illegal immigrants die annually during attempts at crossing the border. This includes the approximately 75 who die of heat exposure in the desert and 45 who drown swimming across the river or canals into Arizona.

Human life has very little value.

Let me add that I am not against culling (animals that is, not people), or even hunting, although I cannot understand what satisfaction killing something could give.

I also think there should be a system in place so that people can live and work in the country of their choice legally and not have to feel like hunted animals. If there were no Latinos here the lawns would not be quite as trim and the houses not quite as sparkly, no salad or strawberries on the table nor would there be anyone to do the work others are not willing to do.

August 23, 2008

Finally we see the Grays.

In the early morning, a little groggy because it was a windy night and sleep didn't come easily, we go down to the beach where we meet the others who are also going to see the whales. The water is calm but I struggle with my lifesaver, which definitely is not made for women with a bosom. The two boats head out for open water calmly and we are all eagerly looking out for any movement in the warm, shallow waters of the laguna. Expecting a dot on the horizon, like you see when you go out on a boat in San Diego, we were totally unprepared for what we were about to see.
After staring into the placid waters for about 20 minutes as we slowly motored out to open water, we suddenly saw movement all around us. It was like being in a bucket of live eel. A massive back breaking the surface here; a magnificent breach 300 yards away and fluke in the distance. We all sit in the boat awestruck and silent, just watching the movement around us. If anyone was scared, I didn't notice it because our sheer excitement was almost tangible.
Once we had our cameras in our hands we didn't even make that many pictures. It was almost like watching fireworks, you don't want to be wasting time on making photos and miss one of the most spectacular sights you might experience.
Pictures, after all, are just pictures and I could show a whole series of them, as we of course did make quite a few because after a while you settle in and watch the breaches and spyhopping around you and shiver a little as a 16 meter whale dips down under your rather small vessel. You are always a little too late to make a photo because you never know where something is going to happen. This was more a time to just revel at being so close to the whales and wondering what they made of this. Considering that this was previously a whale-catching area where, because it was a nursery, the whaler would strike the calf first in order to lure the mother within killing range it is amazing that these gray whales now carefully dive under our little boat without rocking it and peek out at us curiously on the other side.
The calves especially seem to enjoy the connection with people as they sidle alongside the boat waiting to make friends, you think hopefully. You can reach out and slide your hand over a back which has a rubbery texture. The mother, however is never far away and the gray in the blue water intensifies as she dives under the boat, breaks the shimmering water on the other side and watches the activity with a steely eye. These mothers are 16 meters (52 feet), weigh around 36 tons and used to be called Devil Fish, for which there must have been a particularly good reason, I have no doubt. Gray whales are off the threatened species list which is good because they took about 30 million years to develop and who has that kind of time these days to devote to developing them again?

August 16, 2008

Via Salt Flat to the Laguna.

From the little town we made our way to the laguna. Even though the road looks fine on this picture, you do need a four-wheel drive to get there. We had read up on our trip and discovered that this salt flat was being eyed greedily by ESSA, a joint venture of Mitsubishi and the Mexican Government who had submitted plans to build a $ 120 million salt-making facility in this environmental preserve and the only one of Baja's three whale nursing lagoons still untouched by industrial development.

Salt, granted is one of the primary electrolytes in the human body and one of the vital minerals needed for optimal bodily function. I have recently read a fascinating book called "Salt", by Mark Kurlansky which gives the fabulously interesting history of salt throughout the ages. I had no idea how much there was to something I sprinkle so mindlessly on my boiled egg in the morning.

When we pitched our tent it was getting windy. We ate our empanadas, not really knowing what they were and discovered that they were tasty but sweet. Little parcels of dough filled with pumpkin or other types of fruit. We were not the only ones there at sunset and a young woman came up to say hello. When she heard our accents she said that she more or less expected us to be dutch. She had traveled all over and she mentioned that even in the remotest spots she had been some dutch people would turn up. What can I say? Holland is a small country and we need spread our wings sometimes.

The house of the fisherman who would take us out in the morning to see the whales and their one-ton newborn babies. This laguna is the place where several hundred gray whales that come to mate and calve before their departure on their 5,000-mile migration north to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea. We are in for an unforgettable experience.

August 9, 2008

Appreciate the Jesuits work.

I have mixed feeling about Jesuits but am grateful for the beauty they created here at this little place in a 10,000 square mile desert. Among the hundreds of date palms planted by the Jesuits centuries ago lies the little town with nothing much more to offer than a grocery store and a gas station, which we hear 'sometimes' has gas. We carry two large jerry-cans, one with water and one with gas and it's our lucky day, there is gas to be bought.

We came prepared with some food too, but the empanadas look tempting.

August 2, 2008

Baja California

Can you hear Ennio Morricone's music in your ears? Vultures on a large cactus, biding their time, waiting to see what or who will not make it through the hot, dry day. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly trilling along with the heat that rises up from the tarred road.

We reach our destination after a long drive over the road that is the spine of the peninsula with only cordon cacti and roadside shrines to distract us from our thoughts. The Jeep makes too much noise to have a real conversation, so we have to make do with pointing, raising eyebrows and lots of smiling.

The night before we had slept under a night sky so filled with stars that you felt as if you could dip your hands into this treasure chest filled with diamonds, scoop them up, hold them and then slowly let them drip between your spread fingers like sparkling water.

July 30, 2008

The great gift.

I came back from Yemen with much more than a window. Marianne and I remained friends after I returned to the U.S. and she to Holland. When on a trip to Versailles, (he lived in France) she met my brother and I am happy to say that they got married a few years later and this September little Fleur, my niece turns 5.

Just because of the picture here and because when I tell the story people often think that Marianne is Yemeni, but she is not. She is Dutch and was a fellow traveler on my Yemeni journey.

July 29, 2008

Fadl on market day.

A favorite pastime in the Arabic world is to fadl, to talk or to gossip and catch up with the news. The men in the picture seem to be having an intense fadl.

Maybe they knew that I had found a window and was lugging it along with me on my travels. If so, I am certain that they were asking each other why someone would drag trash all across the world.
In Shibam, as I was taking a picture of a goat I saw a pile of wood and part of it was a traditional window like they have in the houses all over Yemen. I bought it for $ 25.00 and a blue plastic tarp for $ 1.50.

It was a headache. The driver would sometimes throw it well out of the way hoping it would be forgotten, but it never was and the next morning someone would hand him the large blue parcel again and scowling he would pack it on top of the Landcruiser again.
We once lost a couple of parts and I sort of shrugged without interest but a fellow traveler combed the beach where we were camping until she found them.

Leaving the country the parcel remained closed. The customs had no interest. It entered the Netherlands, and no one looked up. I left Holland again and with me came the window. By now, a warm attachment had developed between my window and me. From Yemen to the Sonoran desert. From a garbage heap to my bedroom wall to remind me of the possibilities one always has even when you think you don't.

July 27, 2008

Guns for sale.

I don't want to leave the impression that traveling through Yemen is without its dangers. It appears to be very macho to be in possession of a firearm, and in particular a Kaleshnikov. Every now and then, out of sheer happiness or something else I would rather not think of, someone will shoot in the air.
I would always wonder, what goes up, must come down, and it might come down on my head, however it always seemed to turn out alright. At least for me, I returned without a bullet lodged behind my ear.

The desire for weaponry must be a modern version of the jambiyya, a knife Yemeni men wear on their belts as part of their outfit. The jambiyya handles are made of horn from goats, cows, giraffe and the most valuable ones are made from rhinoceros horn.

Now that 'modern' times are catching up with Yemen, her craftsmen are are losing interest in making janaby (plural for jambiyya) and that is not the only art they are losing. Also traditional carpentry, polishing agate and onyx and silversmithing are rapidly disappearing.

It happens everywhere, not just Yemen. It seems to have to be the way that we lose skills and knowledge as one generation takes over from the next. The arrogance of the young and the indifference of the old.


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