Monday, December 29, 2008

Favorite Photos Stir Memories of 2008

I was blessed with many opportunities to travel this year and, of course, with a new camera and a new blog, I took a lot of photos. Oh, it was so much fun! Last night I was reviewing some of my photos and reliving special memories when I decided to post a few of my favorite photos of 2008. Many of the shots have been on this blog, but others never made it.

Do you also have posts in your head which never make it to the page? I've written before about finding a rhythm to blogging, but I still continue to search for my flow. For example, I can't believe I never posted about my trips to Florida and California! It is rare for me to travel so much and these trips were a big deal for me - HUGH, in fact, and yet, no blog entries.

Well, I will still plan to post entries about those warmer climates, probably in January or February when those of us who are snowbound and freezing could use a visit to a sunny beach! For now, I hope you enjoy a few of my favorite, photographic memories of 2008. The photos are from Florida, California, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and my favorite place in the whole world, my backyard in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The year of travel and adventure began, for me, in February when I went to Florida. One of my favorite places is now Ft. Desoto State Park. I felt like I was on a film set. Everything was grey when I arrived very early in the morning. My car was the only one in the parking lot. The beach was covered in a heavy fog. I could hear the surf, but I could not see it. Honestly, I was bit afraid. I was alone and it was eerie. As the fog lifted I could see a few walkers in the distance. I never saw a beach like this and the sand was in ridges.

I may not be able to id them all, but I could sit and watch sea birds for days.

Royal Terns,

a Willet,

and a Ring-billed Gull.

There were more sea birds to visit while on a March trip to California. I especially enjoyed my time with this lovely Black-necked Stilt as it hunted in tide pools at Dana Point.

The cliffs at Laguna Beach provided a beautiful overlook of the Pacific. I can almost feel the sun on my face when I look at this photo.

June brought a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands that took a year and a half to plan. I loved Ecaudor and I want to return someday. My favorite place in Ecuador was the Pululahua Volcano. It was a mystical place and looking into the crater is something I will never forget.

It is true. The Galapagos Islands are enchanting. I snorkeled for the first time, swam with a giant sea turtle, and added many birds to my life list.

A Blue-footed Booby,

Darwin's Galapagos Warbler,

and Espanola Mockingbirds.

My favorite island was Espanola. We were the last group to leave the island and found ourselves with a hike ahead of us as the sun was setting. The light had a rosey glow. It gave everything a pinkish-orange tint that reminded me of how King Arthur described Camelot.

Sunset was always gorgeous.

The trips were wonderful, but as Dorothy said, "There's no place like home."

I look onto my neighbor's cornfield and pasture from my bedroom window. There is a spring which bubbles up on his property and it trickles down through the pasture into a small creek. I was suprised last winter to see dozens of Canada Geese lined up along the edges of this year-round, flow of water. It must have been a tasty treat!

One of my first blog entries was about Cedar Waxwings. I rejoiced that a pair decided to use the wool I hung out as nesting material.

This is a photo of my favorite bird. I don't mean the Red-bellied Woodpecker is my favorite species. I mean this particular bird has captured my heart. I call him Handsome.

I am grateful for the magic that came into my life in 2008. It was a year filled with new places, new friends, new birds and a whole lot of new knowledge! It was a gift!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Fun, DONE List

Thanks to Lynn at Hasty Brook for this idea. Tis the season to have fun... fa, la, la, la, la...

Things I have done are in bold.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang/played a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (Not bolded because it was for mental health!)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (But, I was too young to remember.)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (One taste was enough for many lifetimes. Yuk!)
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Made a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit (Sadly, now.)
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Gotten a speeding ticket

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Solstice

Celebrate! Winter Solstice occurred at 7:04 Eastern Time this morning. The longest night of the year is tonight then the sun majestically returns to give us longer days. It is the first day of winter and a day of fresh starts and new beginnings. I love it! Happy Yule!

My Winter Solstice traditions include listening to the Paul Winter Consort on National Public Radio. In celebration of the earth, her creatures and cultures, Paul Winter gives annual Winter Solstice concerts at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. His music not only includes the use of instruments from around the world, but also the songs of animals. He is most known for including whale songs and wolf howls in his music. My favorite part of the concert is when the audience joins in the howling. The concert is always special and beautiful.

Tonight, I will listen to the concert on my local NPR station, WDUQ in Pittsburgh. You can also listen at any time on the NPR website. Enjoy!

Happy Solstice!