Today’s writing prompt is the perfect excuse to revisit the post about my raft book collection.
I’m not big on collections. I used to be. I had all sorts of collections. If I saw something I liked, I would start a collection. Until I felt that I was surrounding myself with things just for the sake of surrounding myself with things, and I got rid of most of them. Continue reading →
The photo challenge this week is Transitions. These are more photos from the same place near the Laura Plantation in Louisiana where I took last week’s photo. I love how nature is taking over this car.
Not the best quality image but it was the first that came to mind. I converted this from a slide from the 80s. This is on the path up to Mount Snowdon, in Wales. It was cloudy, incredibly windy and it was my first ever mountain. It definitely felt dreamy.
Well, here’s another thing you don’t have in the Netherlands. Tornadoes.
We have plenty of tornadoes in Texas, but usually further north, where the land is flatter. Once every few years we get a tornado warning, but I’ve only taken the kids into the closet twice. Once in the Rio Grande Valley, when R was still a baby and our cats were outside pets, which was fortunate, since our centrally located closet was tiny. And of course nothing happened. Continue reading →
I consider myself to be a relatively tolerant, open-minded person. A pacifist, even. Not always in thought, but definitely in actions. I don’t hate much. It’s a toxic attitude to have. Live and let live, I usually say. But nobody’s perfect, not even yours truly. Continue reading →
The kids’ school has project week once a year. During that time the students can do whatever they want, as long as they spend four full days on it, learn something new and present their project the following week.
Two years ago, when she was twelve, R made a documentary of the creek behind our house for project week. It’s about time I showed it off. I’m biased, of course, but I think it’s beautiful.
Austin has had a severe drought for several years. So when it rains, we’re all elated. The creek behind our house is spring-fed and there’s always at least a trickle, but the past couple of years it’s usually not more than that. Continue reading →
Okay, high time for some more bottoms of bridges. This time the Congress Avenue Bridge. The bottom of this bridge is actually not much to see at all. It’s what lives there. The Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin is home to one and a half million Mexican free-tailed bats during spring, summer and fall. It’s the largest urban bat community in North America. Continue reading →
After Yellowstone we took a day and a half to drive around Montana and Idaho a bit more. On the way back to Salt Lake City, we stopped at the Craters of the Moon National Monument. It’s a humongous lava flow area. I’ve posted about the lava flow in Valley of Fires in New Mexico, but this is much more spectacular.
This is what I get from trying to do these vacation posts by theme. I end up with leftovers–pictures that don’t fit in any theme, or I don’t have enough pictures on a topic to merit a whole themed post. Yet I feel like showing them. So this last post about our Yellowstone do-over is pretty unorganized. Hard to accept for a former librarian, but there it is. Continue reading →
Like I mentioned before, the central part of Yellowstone is a caldera, a piece of land that collapsed over a volcanic hotspot. Lava heats water that seeps down through cracks in the broken earth’s surface, and the steam and water find their way back to the surface in hot springs, geysers, mudpots and fumeroles. Continue reading →
The bottoms of concrete structures, dead trees–whatever next? Well, the bottoms of dead trees, of course. There are a lot of them in Yellowstone. Isn’t the bottom of one dead tree much like the bottom of another, you ask? Not at all; like the bottoms of bridges, each deadfall has its own personality.
Last year I had intended to do a post about the trees in Yellowstone, and the wildfires, but I didn’t have enough good pictures. As we drove out of the park on only our second morning there, on our way to the hospital in Cody, I snapped photos of burnt stretches from the RV window, but of course they didn’t work out. That’s when black and white helps. Well, I felt it did, anyway.
A large part of Yellowstone National Park is a caldera, land that collapsed and crumbled after volcanic activity. Water seeps through the cracks and is heated by the magma below the surface. Pressure builds and steam and water burst to the surface in geysers. Continue reading →
The wildlife was incredible. Of course there were the buffalo–or the bison, as B kept correcting us–and this time they had calves, so we kept our distance a bit more, except when we were in or near the car. Continue reading →
Our three-week RV trip of the Rockies and Yellowstone National Park last summer (which started here), ended sadly when B’s appendix ruptured and we spent the last four days in the Cody, Wyoming hospital instead of in Yellowstone. This summer we had one week, and lots of T’s flying miles, so we went to Yellowstone for a do-over.
A blogging friend made me aware of this article in the New York Times about eating invasive species such as feral pigs. Feral pigs are a problem here in Texas and it makes perfect sense to eat them. They’re free-ranging, organic, with no added hormones or antibiotics. So eat them invaders, y’all!
This is not the sharpest of photos, because I took it with my cell phone at a traffic light here in downtown Austin. At dusk, the grackles congregate on the power lines, preferably along the roads and above parking lots. The sound is indescribable–loud but pleasant, like the sound of the shower in the morning. On hot days it almost makes it feel cooler.
We moved from the Rio Grande Valley to Austin almost seven years ago. From the beginning, I was afraid of encountering a mountain lion. T always laughed, but I insisted it wasn’t unthinkable. Continue reading →
I was very tempted to use a bridge photo, but that would be a spoiler for a future post. I like this one, too, though, because it shows reflections of different things in different sections.
In Yellowstone National Park, dogs are allowed in cars and campers, but not outside except for in the campsites, on leashes. I took this picture of a small dog in a huge RV in a parking lot near a waterfall. I was wondering when I was going to use this picture. Thanks for the challenge!
Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while know by now of my weird fascination with the underbelly of Austin’s Mopac Bridge. Every now and then I just have to spend an entire post on this butt-ugly structure that I somehow cannot get enough of.
The lava flow of the Valley of Fires in New Mexico was formed about 5,000 years ago; it’s one of the youngest lava flows in America. The vegetation still looks like it started popping up rather recently. And in geological time it has. Continue reading →
Another beautiful spot only 30 minutes from our house is Hamilton Pool. It’s a small park, with a path going along a small stream to the Pedernales River in one direction, and in the other direction it goes to the actual pool.
I thought you might like something nice, after the last post. This morning, after dropping the kids off at school early (their math teacher has office hours at 7:30 am), I went on a brief walk around Town Lake here in Austin. The sun was only just up when I started, and it was slightly misty. I only had my phone with me, but I’m always amazed that the pictures aren’t half bad.
My then boyfriend T in our canoe in Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada, 1991. I actually took this picture in broad daylight, so it’s technically a pathetic failure but I love the result. Continue reading →
It doesn’t look like the water is very forceful, but people kept drowning around here. The water has formed big holes in the rock under water, and there are treacherous currents. So since the end of the seventies, swimming is no longer allowed. Continue reading →
When you get down the rocky kind-of-stairs, you come to a sandy beach. This part was a setting in the movie Sharkboy and Lavagirl by Robert Rodriguez. And that’s the only interesting titbit of information you’re going to get. Time to explore.
Don’t worry, I will continue what probably seems like my endless series of photos of Pedernales Falls later (I aim to bore, but you love me anyway, right?), but I just had to give you this link to a another blogger’s post about a famous Dutch person. Dutchies, don’t get proud just yet…
The Pedernales River winds across the Texas Hill Country, and at Pedernales Falls State Park it has a wide stretch of rock falls. The word “falls” suggests water falling from a height, but it’s actually a gradual sloping stretch of rock about a mile long, that the water runs over, or slips over. So it’s not as vertically spectacular as, say, Niagara Falls, but it’s still pretty grand, in that low-key Texas Hill Country way. In short, I’m building it up, but I don’t want to set you up for disappointment, either. Because then you might voice that disappointment, and I don’t know if I could handle that, since I’m really rather fond of Pedernales Falls. Continue reading →
After driving to the parking lot nearest the falls, you have a three minute walk through a cedar forest. On an overcast day it’s always slightly claustrophobic. When the kids were younger, I insisted they stay close, because I was worried about mountain lions. T thinks that’s very funny. But just the other day a mountain lion attacked a horse closer into town than Pedernales Falls. You just never know in woods like these… Continue reading →
So we saw bison and elk, and two wolves at the river’s edge. They were playing and taking their time, and people were taking pictures from the other side, but just when I was finally almost close enough to start taking killer photos, they decided to leave. Aaaarrrghhh! The photos of the elk in the previous post were my photography high point of the vacation, and these wolves were my biggest photography frustration. Continue reading →
The other animal that we saw a lot of in Yellowstone was elk. Apart from when you’re in the car, it’s not a good idea to get too close to bison, but I got pretty close to a beautiful male elk. I think I was about eight feet away at some point. That’s also not recommended; the grammatically annoying signs everywhere say that “all wildlife are dangerous”. Continue reading →
Apart from the mud volcano and the mud pots and a few fumaroles at the beginning of our day, we mainly saw animals. So many that we never got to the next geothermal feature. And mostly we saw bison. Continue reading →
The next day we woke up to find ourselves in a wonderful campground, with lots of trees and little trails going off behind our site. Not that we spent any time there. We left after breakfast and didn’t come back until well after dark. Continue reading →
This series of posts wouldn’t be complete without me complaining at least once. So here goes.
I didn’t fully appreciate how clean Colorado is until we crossed the border into Utah. And Wyoming is worse. Every roadside and every rest stop is trashed. When we got down from the RV, we immediately had to watch where we walked, to avoid all the broken glass, and I regularly picked up trash that was in the way of a good picture. And all this despite the steep fines for littering. Continue reading →
After our afternoon and night in Rock Springs, Utah, we drove on up to Jackson and then east to Yellowstone. B was no longer nauseous. He was drinking water and holding it in, and eating some jello at my insistence. He still didn’t feel all that great, but that was understandable after the day before. He got to lie on the couch while we drove, strapped in, of course. Continue reading →
Hi folks. Just a short note to let you know I have not forgotten my blog. Nor have I vanished from the face of the earth. I have a legitimate reason for suspending my Rocky Mountain trip updates for a few more days. So don’t unfollow me just yet. More will come, I promise.
After Rocky Mountain National Park, we drove to State Forest State Park, where we were practically guaranteed to see moose. That would be nice, especially a bull moose from a little closer up. But no such luck. Not a moose to be seen. Continue reading →
The next day we spent driving back east to Estes Park from our campground in the western part of RMNP. We had seen two bull moose the day before, but from such a distance to be uninteresting in photos. So imagine our surprise when we saw a mother moose and her baby calmly munching willow leaves not more than twenty feet from the road. Continue reading →
We took the smaller scenic route to Rocky Mountain National Park from the Black Canyon (highway 50 east to just before Salida, and then north on 24 through Leadville to the last bit of Interstate 70, but honestly, I think going straight up to Interstate 70 from Montrose would have been more scenic. Except for Blue Mesa Reservoir, the biggest body of water in Colorado. It goes on and on as you drive east on 50 from the Black Canyon, and it’s worth seeing. Especially if you’re used to lakes always being surrounded by trees. Here the desert comes right down to the water’s edge. Continue reading →
The next day T had to work, so he stayed in the RV while the kids and I went along the rim trail that ran from just outside the campground to the visitors center. The walk was about one mile along the rim of the canyon, but it took us an hour and a half, because there was so much beauty to take in, and so much breath to catch, since we weren’t used to the altitude. Here are some of the many, many pictures I took during that walk. Continue reading →
We spent all of the second day driving from Durango to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We had driven the road from Durango to Silverton before, and we had taken the old train as well, but it’s spectacular every time. Continue reading →
For the next two weeks I’m having a photo blog of our trip to the Rocky Mountains.
The first day we left Austin in the evening and drove to Fort Stockton, in west Texas. I didn’t count that first day. But the next morning in Fort Stockton, I was the first one up, so I took a walk around the campsite. It was just an ugly campsite in the middle of nowhere, for people on their way from somewhere to somewhere else, but there was a very short trail into the desert. The sun wasn’t up yet, so I was hoping to see some critters. Continue reading →
Two of the great things about living in Austin are the wildlife and the music. One of my favorite Austin bands is The Austin Lounge Lizards, and one of my favorite Austin Lounge Lizard songs is “Arnold”. I feel like I’ve posted this before, but I can’t find it. And if you’ve listened to it before, I know you will love to listen to it again. Continue reading →
Well, it’s the Fourth of July, Independence Day here in the States. I just saw a post by an American blogger friend in the Netherlands, who posted some beautiful landscape photos of Tennessee for the 4th. I’ll do the same. Not of Tennessee, because it’s one of the few states I haven’t visited yet, but just from all over.
Yesterday we went to Natural Bridge Caverns, in the hill country between Austin and San Antonio. The natural bridge was formed when a sinkhole appeared, leaving the natural bridge on this photo, and the entrance to the caves. Continue reading →
Well, I’ll wait with the scathing post. I was cleaning up the slides I’d scanned a while ago. I used to have slides instead of photos. So I saw them even less than photos. That’s one of the things I love about a blog. I can see my favorite pictures and share them with whoever is interested.
Anyway, I didn’t clean my slides very well before scanning them, so I was doing that in Photoshop last night. Amazing!
Finally, I managed to take a picture of the deer along the side of the road in our subdivision.
They barely look up when I drive by, but when I slow down or stop, they are all on high alert. I have tried before to take a picture through an open window, but that never works, so this time I kept the window up and just drove by really slowly, clicking my phone camera as I went.
That’s as good as it gets.Three of them are pretty clear, but there are two or three more among the trees that don’t really show. But at least it’s proof for my friends and family in the Netherlands who probably think I’m exaggerating about the deer.
I’ve got a small translation, so the coming two weeks I won’t be writing much, and I’ll probably be posting a photo every now and then at most. I’ll try to keep up with all the posts I’m following, though.
Because of the rain we’ve been having, we had a beautiful spring with lots of wildflowers. Right now the second round is just as amazing, if not more so. Let me take you on a little 20-minute drive starting from our subdivision and heading south and back. I took these photos yesterday, and with all the stopping and walking back and forth it took me two hours. It was hot, windy, and I sprained my ankle in a ditch, but the pictures are worth it, I think. Continue reading →
Texas was in a serious drought for over two years. Really serious. Ranchers had to sell off their cattle because there was no grass for them, and buying food was getting too expensive. Lake Travis, the source of most of Austin’s drinking water, was scarily low.
But it’s over, it seems. We’re not out of the woods yet, because Lake Travis still Continue reading →
Lady Bird Johnson was the wife of president Lyndon B. Johnson, who was born in Johnson City, west of Austin. As First Lady she promoted the Highway Beautification Act, and in 1982, together with actress Helen Hayes, she founded the National Wildlife Research Center, a few miles from our home in southwest Austin. Continue reading →
I’ve posted before on my frustration about above-ground power lines and how dangerous they are in a storm. And in certain footage of the tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri, two days ago, the first thing you see when the tornado touches down is a power line being snapped. Continue reading →
We went to the swimming area of Pedernales Falls State Park for the first time this year.
Every year I think that this time the trees along the river bank really are dead. The floods really did it this time. Nothing could possibly look deader than these cypresses. And from a distance, nothing could look uglier either.
In the late 60s Richard Proenneke built his own cabin in the Alaskan wilderness with only a few simple tools. He spent most of the rest of his life there. Sam Keith fleshed out Proenneke's diary of his first 16 months, when he was making his home by a lake. I love these kinds of books!
An old Oji-Cree healer and her nephew canoe down a river in Canada, away from the world of white people. They both have to come to terms with their past. The woman has lost most of her tribe and the young man is traumatized from his recent experience in the Belgian trenches of World War One. My second book by Boyden. Can't say enough about him.
An incredibly comprehensive history of everything related to slavery in the Southern United States, from the beginning of the colonies to the end of the Civil War. Over 700 pages and I took over 30 pages of notes. I will be sharing over many posts to come!
Hamid's debut novel. I love this author. A young man in Lahore, Pakistan, is the victim of love, drugs, obsession, the class system and his complete lack of self-awareness.
A golem, created in Poland and brought to life on a ship to America, and a jinni who was trapped in a flask a thousand years ago and released in New York -- the most unusual immigrants you'll ever meet.
The only part of her life a Korean woman can control is her body, so she withdraws into it. Harrowing.
Autobiography lightly disguised as a novel about the son of Southern migrants growing up on the streets of Harlem, New York City, in the 1940s and 50s. Written like you're hearing the whole story in a bar. Quite a feat.
The story of a man struggling to make a living in Morocco. No plot, no clearly defined characters, but fascinating in its authenticity.
Pakistani man tells an American about his experience as a college student and employee of an assessment firm in America years ago. Smart, nuanced and pretty darn honest considering the unreliable narrator.
Wow! The answer to the inane platitudes about how all parents love their children and how children should always respect their parents. The protagonist must come to terms with his deeply flawed immigrant parents in order to change himself.
Seven short stories about life during the Kim Il-sung regime, by a writer who still lives and works in North Korea, were smuggled out of the country and translated. Mind-boggling stuff.
A 15-year-old autistic narrator wants to know who killed a neighbor's dog, and ends up much further out of his comfort zone than he planned. Wonderful read!
In politics, education, religion, agriculture, business--it turns out that dumbing down has been here from the start.
Fifty years of Istanbul seen through the eyes of a street vendor who migrates to the city as a young boy. It's also a window into the complicated dance between men and women in Turkey.
Hey, don't laugh, at least I'm trying.
A Norwegian immigrant is cooped up with six other people on a tiny island off the coast of Maine all winter in 1873. A woman in the present researching the Norwegian immigrant is cooped up with three other people on a tiny sailboat. What could possibly go wrong?
A man stuck between two worlds in more ways than one. Fascinating!
Historical novel about early contacts between first nations and the French in Canada. Beautifully written story that doesn't pull any punches. I bought his other two novels right away.
Beautifully written. By my children's favorite English and Creative Writing teacher! It's got rave reviews and we're all very proud of her.
Suki Kim is a Korean-American journalist. She poses as an evangelical Christian posing as an English teacher at a school for the sons of North Korea's elite. Her experience and the information she manages to get via writing assignments are incredible. Definitely a lot more eye-opening that any CNN special.
This. Explains. Everything!!!
Why has Islam not undergone a reformation like Christianity? Why is it so easy for Islamic extremist groups like IS to recruit young muslims? What would it take for Islam in fundamentalist Islamic countries to enter modernity? Does the West have a role to play?
Amazing! A man wanders endlessly through a dreamscape, becoming other people, himself in the past, everything is fluid. Kafkaesque disconnect between people and their different needs.
A multi-layered novel about the history of Libya. A fast read, but one you can repeat and find something new each time.
Twelve Americans go missing in Burma/Myanmar during a tour. Touching and hilarious, but mostly hilarious.
The most unusual murder mystery I've ever read. Incredible writing. It haunted me for days.
The quote on the front mentions that these stories are exhilerating. I couldn't disagree more. They are almost unbearably painful to read, and yet I couldn't put them down. Very well done, apart from the third story, which is written in the second tense. Please let me know if you know of ONE story that works in second tense.