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Friday, May 29, 2015

FRIDAY'S FOTO

This is a chameleon we met at the Greenwell Kona Coffee Farm
on the Big Island in Hawaii
Isn't he just too cute?!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

MEMORIAL DAY 2015 in WARWICK, NEW YORK

I took this on Memorial Day, 2014
All across America, small towns  commemorate Memorial Day in a way that’s impossible in the big cities.  It’s a time when people fly flags at their homes and line the parade routes in their towns to see the respectful procession of veterans and others remind us that freedom does not come without cost.

In my town of Warwick, NY, the procession begins at 11 AM, proceeds down Main Street past people holding flags or just paper cups of mid-morning coffee.  Some bring folding chairs, others sit on the curb, and others stand.  But as the veterans go by, most stand, and the spring air is filled with applause.  Some call out “Thank You” from the curb, and the veterans smile or salute or in some way say, “You’re Welcome.”  I remember when most of the veterans walked the parade route.  These days they are driven.  Time passes.  They are older. They are fewer.  

Following the veterans are some very important people who continue to serve our community: the members of the Volunteer Ambulance Corps who are always there with their time and expertise, the members of the Volunteer Fire Departments who risk their lives whenever they respond to emergencies.  Many of these people are veterans or active military, and as the Fire Departments marched this year, two members were in uniform.  They volunteered to serve their country, and they continue to serve their community.

The Warwick High School Band marches as do the Girl Scouts, from Daisys to Seniors, and the Boy Scouts march as well.  The Knights of Columbus are represented, and often other community organizations that volunteer to make all our lives a little better through their good works.  This is respect of the day and the reason for the day.

The parade moves past Main Street and up Oakland Avenue past the Lazear-Smith & Vander Plaat Memorial Home where the front lawn holds hundreds of American flags.  Past the bank, the bed and breakfasts, the beautiful large Victorian homes along the Avenue, the Dautaj restaurant, and the Warwick Valley Country Club to the Warwick Cemetery where services are held.  Then down Rt. 17A to St. Stephens Cemetery, and then back to the American Legion Hall and the Memorials erected there at the entrance to Memorial Park.

I am particularly sentimental about this Memorial Day because it is our last one in Warwick before we move.  Times have changed over the years.  Caroline Lesando, the Gold Star mother who lost her boy in Vietnam, no longer lives in Warwick.  Her courage, year after year, to participate in this parade was always a heart-breaking, unimaginable moment to me.  When, in the Warwick Cemetery, I hear the names of several young people who have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, I cringe.  But I also remember my children marching with the band, my marching with my Girl Scout troop with my daughter, my son marching with the Boy Scouts, and I can see in my memory my mother and father sitting and waiting for the parade to begin.

At 3 PM I paused for a minute and thought about all the men and women lost in battle over the course of our history.  Each and every one of them is a hero to me, and I owe each and every one a debt of gratitude for allowing me to live in a free society unlike any that has existed in the history of mankind.  They have allowed me to be proud to be an American.

video




Friday, May 22, 2015

MARGARET MORSE'S SECOND TIMERS TOUR TO ISRAEL--A FRIEND'S REACTION

Received this from friends Rob and I met on our Margaret Morse Tour of Israel a few years ago.  I can't say enough good things about the tour.  But put Israel in the search box of Third Age Traveler for a glimpse of how great it was.  Our friends went on the Second Timers Tour, and I want to pass on their feelings about that: 

"Just a quick note to say we have just returned from Margaret Morse’s Second Timers Tour. It was EXCEPTIONAL! Knocked the socks off the first tour and that one was wonderful. All the stars were aligned: fabulous tour guide, much improved hotels, restaurants, parties, perfect weather and outstanding itinerary. So glad we went. We highly recommend you consider it in your list of future travel experiences!"

FRIDAY'S FOTO--FOR MEMORIAL DAY, 2015

For Memorial Day
A glimpse at the reflecting pool at the World War II Memorial in Washington DC
4,000 sculpted gold stars reflect in the water representing the 400,000 lives lost during WWII
A Gold Star represents a family's loss.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

EXCITEMENT + DANGER = DAVIE, FLORIDA PRO RODEO

Davie Pro Rodeo, FloridaGotta love a rodeo!  This year, we were lucky enough to get to the Davie Pro Rodeo, part of the Professional Rodeo Circuit that arrives in Davie, Florida at the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds four times a year.

Held in a covered rodeo arena, this is an exciting and exhilarating event—another sport where action is counted in seconds and winners by milliseconds.

The previous night had a sell-out crowd, so we arrived early and had the opportunity to meet some very friendly people on line and to explore the grounds and the concessions.  There was plenty of food, the usual fair fare of sausage and peppers, corn dogs, fries, cotton candy, ice cream, and a host of other tempting treats.  Beer by Budweiser.  Spirits too.  We ended up drinking Amber Bock.  Hot, sultry evening and beer is a great combo.

Plenty of cowboy and cowgirl gear for sale—from the real thing to adorable stuff for kids.  This is horse country.  It was smile-making to see the little girls in pink hats and cowgirl diamond-patterned boots with those blinking-as-you-walk LED lights.  The kids twinkled as they pranced along the edge of the arena. 

Very good country/western music before the show, so coming early was a really great idea.  Total fair atmosphere, and a kind of electricity as we waited for the hard-hitting events.

That fair atmosphere fades only slightly once the rodeo begins.  This is serious stuff. A dangerous sport.  And it happens quickly.  The chute opens, the event occurs in seconds, the cowboy is rescued; the arena is cleared; another chute opens.  This is definitely not baseball.  If you haven’t gotten your food, beer, cowboy attire and souvenirs by the time the rodeo begins, you’re going to miss some pretty exciting action.

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida

The arena is a big oblong with chutes on either end.  A squad of security guards stands in intervals along an orange railing lined with Danger signs warning spectators to keep off the rails.  Security guards enforce that rule, and for good reasons which I learned later.

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida

More than once during the rodeo, men working the arena leapt up those rails for safety—even the ringmaster at one point.  These are big and dangerous animals on the loose in there. 

Before the rodeo officially begins, cowgirls gallop into the arena, some holding American flags that flutter as their horses circle around the ring.  The cowgirls perform a synchronized riding dance around the ring, passing one another and criss-crossing each other and urging their horses on at full tilt.  Pretty exciting and very fast.  Flags waving in the breeze.  Costumes sparkling.  They are joined by cowboys, but the movements do not slow as the horses perform their complex ballet.

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida

The ringmaster offers a prayer, primarily for the safety of the competitors, our military and for all those who serve their communities. A little nine year old girl in full cowgirl regalia belts out the Star Spangled Banner truer than many professionals I’ve heard.  Everyone stands, silent, many with hands over their hearts, every cowboy/girl hat removed, and frankly it is a pleasure to see no one keeping his/her seat or chatting disrespectfully.  Life is good.

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida

But the serious mood does not last long!  In case you’re wondering if the crowd remains silent, they do not.  They cannot because danger rides in on the opening event.  Bull riding.  This is an incredible event.  Those bulls are humongous!! 

Just watching the cowboys getting ready in the chutes is exciting.  The man gently lowers himself on to the broad, muscular back of the bull.  If he is not seated properly, he rises and lowers himself again.  He fixes his hat (although it may not stay on long), makes sure his gloves are fitted properly, and he winds the thick rope around his hand.  The crowd’s anticipation is almost palpable. 

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida
All these men are making sure that the cowboy is really set to go--
seated correctly, holding securely
Men are hanging over the sides of the chute making sure everything is ready.  Men are in the arena ready to pull open the iron door of the chute, and when they do, the behemoth slams out and the men jump up on the railings.

The bull lunges out of the chute, leaping up in the air, all four feet off the ground.  Despite his size, that muscled monster is adroit, throwing that cowboy, who is hanging on to that thick rope, around like a pesky fly.  We can see the cowboy’s head snapping back and forth.  If the cowboy stays on long enough, the bull twists his body and weight.  He makes mechanical bulls look tame.  One way or the other it is over very quickly, and the cowboy is off in a not so graceful hard landing in the dirt.  He bounces back up quickly because that bull, his head menacingly lowered, goes right for him.  Cowboys need to scurry quickly and nimbly!  Two wranglers quickly ride to cut off the bull’s path, and the cowboy swings up behind one and is taken to safety while the other gets the bull to enter another chute.  When the cowboy jumps off the back of the horse, he retrieves his hat and slaps it against his body, raising a dirty cloud.   Usually he’s shaking his head.

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida
The bull lunges forward, and the men in the arena
leap for safety
Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida
Wouldn't guess this animal could act like a kangaroo!
Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida
Must be a bull's version of Twist & Shout
Most of the cowboys wear cowboy hats, but some of the contestants wear crash helmets.  They can take some mighty dangerous falls.
Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida
Look at the helmet this bull rider is wearing.
He also has a protective vest.
This is not a sport for the faint-at-heart.
If the cowboy lasts on board that monster for the requisite number of seconds, the two riders come alongside, and the cowboy slips behind one and is taken to safety. 

Sometimes that bull is an angry, moving mountain of muscle and not amenable to being coaxed into the exit chute, or he might really get dangerously close to the cowboy.  It’s then that the rodeo clowns come to the rescue.  Those guys move like greased lightning, and we see bulls chase them right up and over the railings—you remember with the signs warning against climbing! 

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida
A helmet and a protective vest, but it's the rodeo clown who is the
real savior.  And look at the guy with the brace on the knee.
Wonder what the story is there.
It’s a tough way to make a living.  And it must be a “late-bloomer” sport as four of the top bull riders in the entire country’s rodeo circuit are in their 40’s.  What happened to the rest of them????

Each of the events has its own kind of excitement, but always, always, the event is fast.  Single and double rider calf roping takes place in under six seconds.  What is amazing is the way the horse and cowboy work together to keep the rope taut.  The horse is an equal part of the team whether it’s a one man event or a two-cowboy event.

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida
Once lassoed, the cowboy jumps down while the horse keeps
a taut rope, and the cowboy ties the calf's legs together.
Imagine doing this all day to brand the new calves in the herd.
Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida
In the 2-man, one cowboy lassos, and the other ties.  If the first man
misses, the game is over for them.
Bucking broncos---just a few seconds.  Those horses leave the ground and leap to incredible heights, backs bowed and cowboys flapping like paper cut-out dolls.  Tremendous strength and over 1,000 pounds of propelling muscle beneath each leap.  Add the twisting, and you can see how skillful these cowboys are. 

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida
The your usual find for a trail ride, huh?
The cowgirls competing in barrel racing show just how communication between horse and rider is tantamount.  Look at the lean in that horse as he rounds the barrel.  They come out of the chute full speed, round the barrels in a pattern, and race back to the exit chute. Every one of the competitors finishes the course in less than 15 seconds.  It’s an event made of superior horsewomanship and unbridled fearlessness and trust. 

Davie Pro Rodeo, Florida

If you are anywhere near Davie, Florida, check out the schedule to see if the rodeo is coming to town.  Get there early and enjoy the leisure before the events because once it starts, things happen very quickly!!!

Friday, May 15, 2015

FRIDAY'S FOTO--SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY

Here I am in the courtyard of Doris Day's beautiful Cypress Inn
in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.  Beautiful boutique hotel.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

AIR TRAVEL MUSINGS

by Stuart Mills
Getting through airport hassle may make flying a chore, but nothing can rob me of the slightly nerve-wracking thrill of speeding down the runway guessing when lift off will occur and when we will swiftly rise to places man has only been reaching for a bit more than a century.  The Wright brothers flew in 1903, and the first commercial flight was in 1914.  It's only 2015 now. That’s not a lot of time to accomplish so much.  I don’t want to miss that tremendous sense of history and wonder each time I board. 

In my favorite classic movies like the seasonal joy White Christmas, travel is by train.  So many of the 1940s and 1950s movie intrigues begin on trains or ocean liners—meeting strangers, witnessing murders, falling in love.  And then travel began to change.

My grandmother was an old lady wintering in Florida before she ever flew.  My mother didn’t leave the ground until she was middle-aged.  I boarded for the first time at 16, and as the plane made that tilted turn above La Guardia Airport in Queens, I saw the wing dip, dip, dip over the water, and my nails dug into my friend Edith’s hand leaving deep, red scratch marks.  My daughter, Allison, flew to at age 6 to Disneyworld, and my grand nephew, Theo, arrived in New York from Los Angeles when he was barely more than a month old.

What grand and wonderful changes these are.  We must remember to think of them.  We might complain of a bumpy ride, but just visit the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle, and you will learn that those in-pocket bags were not there for decoration.

photo attribution in corner

But back to my excitement.  Once airborne, I don’t ever want to get over my amazement of clouds.

As we leave Boston’s Logan Airport on this trip, we rise into high cloud cover.  Total white out.  Thick and blinding.  White—all the colors combined so that we see no color.  Nothing. 

Then suddenly without warning, we break through the blanket of cloud.  We are above it. The man in the seat in front of me quickly pulls down his shade because the sun is so bright it hurts his eyes, blinding him for the moment.  I squint a bit at the reflection of light off the brilliantly white clouds, but I don’t want to miss anything.  On the horizon, if there is such a thing in the sky, at what appears to be the end of the clouds’ flatness there is a brilliant cerulean blue area, straight across with a fairly even width, and above that oasis of blue, the whitest clouds surround.  It’s quite a fantasyland up here.


On this JetBlue flight to Cancun, a 4.5 hour flight from Boston, I have to marvel at our speed as we quickly cross thousands of miles.  I think of pioneers in Conestoga wagons or frontiersmen on foot.  How far we’ve come in our ability to wander the world.

I love the live map on my seatback screen tracing our plane’s progress.  Talk about a shrinking world right before my eyes.  We are at an altitude of 34,453 feet, flying at 423 miles per hour.  It feels as if we are barely moving.  Think of that and how 55 mph is the speed limit on many roads—70 mph if you’re lucky. 


Sometimes it might seem easier to gripe about a hassle in the airport, a late flight or a bumpy but safe descent and landing, but if you can use your imagination and think of how amazing the trip is and even how in a few years this might seem primitive, you might end up with a lighter heart and a smile.

Friday, May 08, 2015

FRIDAY'S FOTO

A peaceful day might mean a stroll the Morikami Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida
and pausing to listen to the sounds of the waterfall and feeling the serenity of the
green surroundings.