In honor of Chanukah, pictures of Israel

This week marks the holiday of Chanukah, and the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek desecrators of the Temple.  The ancient Jews, fighting for their homeland, were fierce warriors, who were not finally defeated until the Romans did so in 70AD with the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.  Here are some pictures that I took on our trip to Israel in 2007.

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Walls and room, Masada, Israel

Evidence of another group of brave Jews, who committed suicide rather than surrender to the Romans.

View from Wall of Jerusalem Old City.
View from the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. This is MY Country.

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This is the view from Masada, toward the Dead Sea.  Dry, but absolutely beautiful.

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The lower pool at Ein Gedi, oasis amid the parched wilderness.

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The ancient city of Caesarea, on the Mediterranean Sea.  The city of Herod the Great.

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Women at the Wailing Wall, remnant of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. These are MY People.

Happy Chanukah to all.

Goodbye old friend, farewell to my trusty old camera

I’m pretty old-fashioned.  I don’t own a smartphone, and most of  my photography is done with an advanced point-and-shoot camera.  I loved my Canon SX20IS camera, not the least because it operated on four AA batteries.  I never had to worry about its battery dying, because I always kept a spare set of batteries in my bag.  I had it fixed once when the flip-out screen stopped working.  But on a recent trip to Victoria, BC, I dropped it on a hard floor, and the door to the battery compartment broke clean off.  So, time for a new camera.

My followers will know that i’m a picture-taking fool, and all the pictures you see on this blog were taken with my SX20IS.  Here are some of the last photos I took with it, in Victoria last weekend.

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We stayed at our favorite Inn at Laurel Point this time, but on the opposite side of the building from where we normally book our room.  Reason being, that the rooms across the hall had a view worse than this one-see the “construction zone” below? The opposite view was a big honking hole in the ground where the beautiful garden used to be, and a bunch of earth-movers.  The hotel is undergoing a big remodel, and everything was strictly-from hunger this year.  But we did get a nice view of the inner Inner Harbour.  The first afternoon, we went out for lunch, and just by feel, Hubby found a neat pizza restaurant we visited last time.  It was across the street from this place.

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I got the biggest kick out of the coat of arms!  See the Beagle on the left?  After lunch, we went on our usual walking tour of downtown Victoria.  There seems to be a bunch of construction going on there too.  We saw this historic building being renovated-they were careful to preserve the outer walls, and are completely replacing the inside!

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We went over the the Empress Hotel to pick up some of their famous tea.  And I captured the last days of the old Bengal Lounge, which had an awesome Indian buffet for lunch and dinner.  These are all that is left of it.

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I really liked the elephant door-handles.

We enjoyed this fellow busking on the sidewalk near the marina.

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Before we walked on, Hubby “paid the piper”.  His costume did leave a bit to be desired, though.  He was wearing navy socks with the obvious Under Armour logo!

Here are some shots of the harbor at sunset on our walk home.

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And then we saw our old friend, the Coho Ferry leaving port.

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When I got home, I got on the trusty computer and ordered myself a new camera.  Staying with Canon, I bought a similar model, an SX60HS.  Here are a couple of new pictures I took close to home.

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The pear tree on our front lawn.

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Some crows at a local park.

On to new photos!

Autumn Reflections

Autumn is my favorite season.  Hot weather doesn’t agree with my body very much, and I always welcome the onset of autumn.  The kids are back in school, the air is cool, and the sun still makes its appearance on most days.  Here are some reflections of autumn that I have captured, mostly around home in the Pacific Northwest.

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Fall Colors on the Wenatchee River, west of Leavenworth, WA
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Calm reflections in the water of the Inner Harbour, Victoria, BC

My husband and I got married in October, and this year will be our 15th anniversary.  We went to Victoria, BC on our honeymoon, and we return there often.  Mostly we stay at the hotel where we stayed then, the Inn at Laurel Point.  We love its location right on the Inner Harbour, and we try to get a room overlooking their peaceful garden and pond.

Laurel Point Garden Pond

The Butchart Gardens is a popular tourist destination, and we went there on our first trip.  We think it looks its very best in autumn.

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Japanese Garden at Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC Canada
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Walls of Garden

Autumn in Zion National Park in Utah.

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Cliff, Zion National Park

And at Cape May, New Jersey (3 days before Superstorm Sandy hit)…

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Birds, Cape May, NJ

LaConner Marina, along the Swinomish Slough.

Afloat at LaConner Marina

Happy Autumn to everyone!

 

Birds-like you see every day…but different

Wherever I go, I watch for birds.  Even in my back yard, I love watching our birds at the feeder.  Normally, juncos are ground-feeders, but ours just love hogging the feeder, watching for chickadees and nuthatches who might want to get in.

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This is a junco and our song sparrow vying for the preferred station on the feeder, and there’s another junco perched on the side of the suet feeder on the right.

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Here’s one of our nuthatches (we have at least two pairs who frequent our feeder).  They usually go for a sunflower seed, then take it to the top of the fence to tap it out of the shell to eat.  They can go back and forth numerous times, rejecting the millet seeds and teasing out the sunflower seeds.

Chickadee at suet feeder

We get both Black-capped Chickadees and Chestnut-backed Chickadees at our suet feeder in the winter.

When we go on vacation, I especially love seeing familiar birds in new locales.  We met up with this fellow at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

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I think he was actually posing for me!

Also in the Southwest, we went to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, and I added two new birds to my life list.

Bird on Cactus, Desert Botanical Garden
Curve-billed Thrasher on cactus
Quail foraging under the agave
Gambel’s Quail foraging under the agave at Desert Botanical Garden

Our recent trip to Hawaii on the Crystal Symphony added new birds, but also new views of familiar birds.  From the deck of a cruise ship, you can get a view of a bird flying below you, like you rarely can on land.  Before we even left San Francisco, I got pictures of familiar birds from on the dock, and standing at the rail.  We have Western Grebes in western Washington, and here they are in San Francisco.

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And from the Promenade Deck on the Symphony, I was able to get good pictures of the various kinds of gulls that were fishing in the harbor.  I think there was a big school of fish right there, since we saw pelicans, Western Gulls, California Gulls, and Herring Gulls wheeling in the air and crying while scooping up fish at the surface.

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Autumn and winter are now approaching, which will afford me great opportunities to see local birds, right in the back yard.  My camera will be ready!

Tranquil Thursday-Sea and Sky over the North Pacific

Tranquil Thursday-Sea and Sky over the North Pacific

it’s the end of the day on Thursday, and it’s time to get in a little relaxation.  Gaze at the photos of the North Pacific in July, from the deck of the Crystal Symphony.  Many faces of the North Pacific Ocean, and the infinite sky.

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In the photo above, can you even see where the sea ands and the sky begins?  And have you ever seen water that blue?

Something else I found on my trip to Hawaii…Birds!

I am an amateur bird-watcher, and when I see a new one, I check it off on my “Life List”, which is in the back of my 1960s edition of Roger Tory Peterson’s Field Guide to Western Birds (which is now a collector’s item).  Fortunately, in this guide are two pages of pictures of Hawaiian birds, one of natives, and one of introduced species.  All but a few of the new birds I saw is on those two pages.  Here, first, are the new ones I saw.

Barred Dove

This is a Barred Dove, which we found in the center courtyard of the Ala Moana Shopping Center, at the Starbucks there.  We saw lots of these around all the islands we visited, and they formed small flocks.  I thought they were prettier than the common pigeons we see in most cities.

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This black bird is an Indian Mynah, and their screeches fill the air everywhere in Hawaii.  They fill the niche of the Brewer’s Blackbirds we see on the mainland.

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The one on the left is a juvenile bird.

Egrets

These are cattle egrets, and they were everywhere around Pearl Harbor.

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And this fine fellow is a Snowy Egret, and I actually saw him in Ensenada, Mexico.

Brazilian Cardinal

Here’s an introduced species, seen at Pearl Harbor.  He’s a Brazilian Cardinal, and was actually easy to identify by his red crest and black-and-white body.

Saffon Finches

This is a pair of Saffron Finches.  Aren’t they pretty, with their yellow bodies and orange heads?

As we headed home from Hawaii through the North Pacific, birds were pretty much absent.  However, as we approached Ensenada, Mexico, I was happy that I had my camera with me on my walk around the Promenade Deck in the early morning, because I was able to “capture” a sea bird that was new to me.

Masked Booby

This is a Masked Booby, and I was thrilled that I could get this good of a picture.

However, there was one new bird whose picture I took that I could not identify.  He was in the grass in the company of the saffron finches, and I have no idea what he was.  Maybe one of my loyal followers can identify this Hawaiian bird.

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I’m sure they’re some kind of finch, but nothing I found in my bird book looks like this, with the all-over gray body and red “mask”.

Bird-watching is a very rewarding pastime, and the fact that I got new ones for my life list in Hawaii will always bring a smile.

I found my retirement “calling” on the Hillsdale cruise to Hawaii

I found my retirement “calling” on the Hillsdale cruise to Hawaii

I am 69 years old and still working full-time as a buyer for an aerospace company. Aside from vowing never to draw Social Security or be subject to Medicare (as a reason for keeping working), I couldn’t think of what I would do with myself if I retired. I play violin, but there’s not much opportunity to play chamber music in my town. I wouldn’t want to just sit around and read all day, which is my favorite pastime when not working.

Funny, but my retirement calling was staring me in the face, and I wasn’t seeing it. My husband and I are big supporters of Hillsdale, and we are members of the President’s Club of donors. It’s also convenient that his employer matches both our contributions and my employer matches mine (so my contribution is tripled). While sitting in one of the excellent lectures on the cruise, it hit me. If and when I retire, I intend to become a Hillsdale Associate, someone who recruits students and donors for the college and generally talks up the place. After reading Dr. Paul Rahe’s post on the Main Feed over at Ricochet.com, perhaps I’d enlist a letter-writing campaign to the Wall Street Journal to get them to add Hillsdale to their yearly college rankings.

In my everyday life now, I always talk up Hillsdale. My work coat closet has a Hillsdale flag on it for all to see. On the cruise, we provided Hillsdale literature to our cabin attendant! I can’t think of a better way to spend my retirement years than promoting Hillsdale College.