Monday, 30 June 2008

Some Flowers in the Yard

I am sad today, so here are a few flowers from the yard to brighten our day.
(You can click on the image to enlarge them, if you would like a closer view.)

Sunday, 29 June 2008

New Shoes

In preparation for my 4 month stay in Japan, I have started to try and assemble a lightweight easily packable wardrobe that will still be attractive and elegant if not simple. The simplicity should be in the appearance, because it certainly isn't in the assembly. I tend to wear rather casual clothing, but since I will represent my University and the United States, I know I will have to find some dressier outfits especially for the kabuki theater and for invitations out. I've been laying in a supply of simple elegant silk tops/jackets and black pants, but have really been stuck when it comes to shoes. I may not need to remind you that the Japanese take off their shoes a lot. For example, when you enter a house, a temple and even many restaurants shoes are removed. I learned this many years ago and went from wearing lace-up boots to pull on ankle boots, but sadly my clunky pull on Keens will not really do for the semi-casual evening out, so I have been casting my eyes about for a nice sweet little Maryjane that would be easy to take off and slip on and still would be simple and have that certain je ne sais quoi. Unfortunately with my wide and plantar fasciitis-ridden feet, this is turning out to be a much tougher task than I had anticipated. I ordered these but will have to return them because they are too tight across the toes.

Too bad. They were inexpensive and I liked the look!

I have been looking at these and they come in wide and are comfortable, but they cost 100$ - just a bit more than I want to spend for a casual shoe.

So I ordered these much cheaper ones instead and will get them in a week or so.

I also ordered these because they were so cute and I can wear them to the theater. These are comfortable so they are keepers.

Finally, you may remember all my anxiety and indecision about my self-designed Renaissance festival styled moccasins. Well, they have finally arrived. Below you will see my mock up and the real thing.

Now here are the real McCoys. Pardon the weird camera angles. It is hard to phtograph one's own shoes!!

I tried to get a few different angles.

The design is on the inside of the leg.

Here is the computer drawn mock-up.

I'm pretty happy with them. I think Paul at Sodhoppers did a real good job.

Unfortunately with all those buttons, they are not the kind of footwear I'll be taking to Japan!

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Highway Adventures

I'll probably post more about my mother's visit in Minnesota in another blog, but today I want to concentrate on the road trip taking her (back) to Arkansas to visit my aunt. It was a sunny trip with good weather, but one always sees a few interesting things on the roadside when one travels and I wanted to post a few pictures of some of those interesting subjects.

Of course one thing we could not avoid noticing was all the flooding in Iowa.

Sorry about the quality of the photo. This is one of my infamous "taken while driving" shots in which I take my "point and shoot" camera, hold it in the air and snap a picture, hoping all the while that the subject is still in the frame. (Below you'll see an example of one that is partially cut off for this very reason.)

On a rest stop we encountered this (probably?) Amish woman selling her baskets on the side of the road.

And of course I always look forward to this:

Even at the inexpensive cost of $5.00 a pound that must be a pretty pricey Morrel(l).

A little ways after Kansas City, we started to notice a bit of smoke on the horizon. Now because I live in rural Minnesota, I am quite accustomed to sights like this.

It is common practice to burn off one's garbage or yard waste behind the farmstead. As we got closer, it was clear, however, that this was no little prairie fire or trash burning situation. There was quite a bit of smoke and it wasn't on the prairie.

As we got closer we saw this.

And as we whizzed by, the Wendy-cam caught this.

It was a rather impressive sight.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

More on the Houston Trip

On the trip to Houston, we did not simply dwell on the worldly fun to be had, we also made it a point to make a family visit to the grave of my father. It was an ill-fated trip on the birthday of our father - we drove through Houston traffice to Conroe through the rain and even stopped at a florist for flowers for the grave. We should have known to turn back when the florist reported that she was out of flowers. We went on anyway and of course it started pouring as we approached the grave. I kept looking around to see if some weird guy was lumbering around in the background and "coming to get you, Barbara," but luckily we got out of there before anything untoward occurred. Here we are standing in front of the grave during a brief second of greater dryness.

Of course Houston is a City of urban clutter. Here was a billboard for shock absorbers that mildly intrigued me.

Urban spaces need parks and one that is causing a lot of buzz in Houston right now is Discovery Park.

It is a lovely green space in the downtown area with fountains for children to play in...

... and bars for the adults to do likewise.

And who wouldn't want to ride around the park in this little vehicle?

And then there was Starbucks who wouldn't make my iced decaf coffee because it offended their standards and didn't want pictures taken on their premises. They sold this water and that made me raise an eyebrow,

but I guess it doesn't say what the ethos is. It still strikes me as strange to see plastic bottles that clog up our landfills with such a name.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Holidays in Texas

Now that I am back from my vacation in Texas, I thought I would add a few more pictures. My life has been so busy lately, that I have had no time for blogging (mine or anyone else's alas).

We went down to Texas to visit my Mom and sisters. Despite the cost of gasoline, it was a lovely trip. We went to the Houston arboretum, had lovely meals out just plain visited.

Of course no trip to Houston would be complete without a visit to an unusual museum. (Last year you may remember we went to the Museum of the weird (Read about it here.) We just happened to land at the doorstep of the Funeral Museum, so in we went. Of course who would not want to be buried in one of these Ghanaian crab coffins (probably designed for fishermen)?

And here is a pretty fancy casket:

There were other interesting objects to view. many pictures, some mourning clothes and jewelry and they had hearses, of course.

of many different varieties....

This Japanese style one was pretty impressive.

The inside was especially lovely.

There were also coffins. I think I showed the money coffin in a prior blog, but here it is again.

And I could so see Jenny from Good Mom Bad Mom in this Snow White glass coffin all dressed in pink with black goth fishnet stockings and long gloves.

My sister has already pointed out that we spent a lot of our time eating and of course the best time spent, was that hanging out with the family. Somehow my family isn't like everyone else's. Here is a picture of Drycleaning Aunt, Bad Mama, Violet, Grandma and Reggie at a nice little Japanese restaurant.

Is this what your family looks like when they eat out?

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Birthday Dinner: Three Fish

Not too long ago, I had a birthday, so we celebrated at a little place in Minneapolis called "Three Fish". I always enjoy going there and did again this year. One fun thing is that they have paper table cloths and provide crayons on every table to keep the young ones occupied.

Of course it was too much to resist.

I did not get a very good image of the final mural - but you can see it had potential.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Summer Vacation in Texas

Well, we are down in Texas again visiting my Mom and sisters and famillies, so it is time for playing with photography again. We met up at a Middle eastern/Meditteranean restaurant here....

and then set off to find fun things to photograph in the city.

We wandered around a bit and noticed this sign in a store window. Hmmm.

The Hong Kong City Mall was full of wonderful, exciting and even silly objects. Here is the exterior to the big market. It was full of planters of lucky bamboo.

The interior was gigantic! There was SO much food. Tanks of living sea food, counters full of fish, fresh fruit, large bins of jackfruit, packaged foods of all kinds.
In the food section we saw these interesting pumpkin seeds.

In case you didn't get a good look at the pumpkins, here is a close up.

This reminded me a lot of things I had seen in cheap souvenir store windows in Japan.

Of course there were many items to remind us of China (even though most of the stores and items were actually Vietnamese.) These lanterns were hanging near the entrance.

There were housewares, ceramics, brass items and stools. It was fun walking up and down the aisles and looking at all the stuff.

If you look carefully you might recognize someone coming through the brass aisle.

Here is my favorite picture. There were many places with all kinds of devotional statues.

I wonder what we will see today.