Saturday, May 31, 2008

Staying Properly Hydrated on the Wissahickon Trail

Hikers are always cautioned to remain "properly hydrated" on the trail, especially during summer when dehydration can be a problem. This didn't seem to be much of an issue today; at about the midpoint of our hike the heavens opened up and it poured. Really poured... Like a deluge... Of course, this didn't stop our fun, we still enjoyed the beautiful Wissahickon Park, the company of other hikers, and the sound of our wet boots sloshing through the puddles. It was also a perfect opportunity for me to test out my new "quick dry" hiking clothes; I am happy to report they seemed to work.

Zimmy waits patiently. Cockapoos love to hike, and they love attention.

Hikers smiling and waving. This doesn't seem staged at all, does it?

Rock strewn Wissahickon Creek

Another view of the creek

The bridge over the Wissahickon

The afternoon was beautiful and clear. Here is the late afternoon sun on my rhododendrons.

Late afternoon and the view of my front porch

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Biking Along the Schuylkill in Philadelphia

Today we explored 22 miles of trails along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. We started out behind the Philadelphia Art Museum and rode parallel to Kelly Drive through Fairmount Park. At first the trail was filled with people rollerblading, biking, running, and just enjoying the beautiful Spring weather, but further along the trail the crowds thinned out and we were treated to beautiful views of the Schuylkill River and later the Wissahickon Creek. We stopped for snacks and nature watching at Valley Green (where I saw my first wood duck!). Then we rode along Forbidden Drive, then took a detour along the Manayunk Canal.

Later that evening, we had a lovely Memorial Day picnic with friends on their back porch, complete with Tiki torches, candles, and a beautiful view of the Big Dipper overhead. We also celebrated a birthday and had a wonderful time enjoying fun, laughter, and each other's company!

The bike path has a view of the creek below.

The bridge at Valley Green.

Enjoying the view of the creek from Valley Green

Looking down on the creek below

View from a bridge

When are you guys gonna bring out that cake? Jack waits patiently.

A day to celebrate!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mistress of Spices

Tonight our book club discussed "Mistress of Spices" by Chitra Divakaruni. It was imaginative, magical, poetic, and a fun, enjoyable read. The novel was filled with beautiful imagery of exotic lands. We are drawn into the lives of the characters that Tilo, the Mistress of Spices, helps with her special gifts. She also embarks on a personal journey of her own and a decision about her future and her role in the world. Definitely recommended as a fun summer read!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Beautiful Sign

Tonight as I was making dinner I looked out the kitchen window and noticed how beautiful the sky was. A storm was just passing through, the sky had grey clouds, but yet the sun was peeking through casting a golden glow over everything. And, suddenly, I saw a beautiful full sky rainbow! As with all natural subjects, a photo never truly captures the magnificence of being there, but here is a small glimpse of the magic and mystery of the moment.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Reflections of the Journey of Photographer John Isaac

This afternoon I saw the photography exhibit and talk by the remarkable photographer John Isaac at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. John Isaac was a United Nations photographer from 1978 to 1998 who traveled to over 100 countries and witnessed and documented human struggle, pain, violence, and also resilience and hope in impoverished and war torn areas including Cambodia, Bosnia, India, Kuwait, Iran, and Afghanistan. He saw starvation in Ethiopia, genocide in Rwanda, war in Iraq, and children maimed by land mines in Kashmir. John mentioned several times that he is a human being first, a photographer second, and that it is of ultimate importance to him that he maintain respect for the diginity of the human condition in all of his photographs. He captures the wonderful humanity of a father caring for an injured son, a sister tending to a starving brother, a mother preparing a meal for her family. His photographs are human, real, raw, capturing the essence of pain and the essence of love and devotion.

After a long career of often witnessing unspeakable tragedy, John was overwhelmed by pain and unable to photograph any longer. He went through a severe depression, intending to never again pick up a camera. It was months of soul searching and eventually seeing the beauty in his neighbor's garden that brought him back to his love of the art of photography. Now he often chooses the exquisite beauty of nature as his subject. He photographed a magnificent tiger staring intently at the camera, sandhill cranes lit beautifully soaring past a full moon, elephants and zebras in Africa, gorgeous rock formations in the American Southwest, lush forests and streams in India.

If you live near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a beautiful collection of his photographs is on display at the Banana Factory until June 29. You can also see his photos at his website John Isaac.

Can you believe he sings also? This is John Isaac on the left.

A pot full of pansies outside the Banana Factory

A Perfect Day for Gardening

This morning was bright and breezy, a perfect day to start the vegetable garden. Every year I put in too many plants, and by late summer I am overrun by tomatoes and other vegetables. This year will probably be no exception. The plants just look so small and fragile when I put them in, I feel like I need to plant more! This year I put in three tomato plants, one grape tomato plant, one pimento, one yellow pepper, two eggplants, one cucumber, and two basil plants. Last year's lavender and oregano are coming up also. I put the plants in, gave them a good watering, and late afternoon it rained a bit too. I hope they're off to a good start!

A few of my little treasures.....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Foodie Blogs and Adventures in Thai Cooking

I just love the Foodie Blogs! My favorites include The Urban Vegan and her Philadelphia adventures with her hubbie Omniman, Dreena Burton's Vive Le Vegan and her wonderful Mommy stories, and Vegan Dad's fabulous culinary creations. Although you won't find recipes here, check out Bob and Jenna's podcast at Vegan Freak Radio for tips on animal friendly living.
Tonight I made Thai-style Tofu and Snow Peas on Rice Vermicelli with Lime Peanut Sauce from Vegalicious. The sauce was a delicious combination of peanut butter, coconut, and lime, served with snow peas, tofu, and hot pepper.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Azaleas

The Azaleas by my front porch are finally reaching their peak bloom. It's a beautiful treat to walk outside in the morning!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ricketts Glen State Park

Today I went hiking in Ricketts Glen, one of the most beautiful Pennsylvania State Parks, with 22 cascading waterfalls. It was a cool Spring day, we wore jackets until we really got moving. It had been raining the day before, so the waterfalls were full and flowing! The new Spring growth had appeared, with the pretty light greens of the early season. We saw rolled up fiddlehead ferns on the trail.

One of the first waterfalls on the trail

This is one of the prettiest waterfalls in the park.

These white flowers were everywhere.

Miles of streams cascading over rocks

Group photo (courtesy of Al)

So many pretty waterfalls

By a waterfall

Pennsylvania Hemlock by the stream where we stopped to eat lunch

Stopping for pizza after a full day hiking. Look how happy we are to finally stop and eat!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

French Creek State Park

Today we went on a beautiful 11.1 mile hike at French Creek State Park in Berks County. The day started out hazy and overcast, but by early afternoon the sun was shining and the skies were bright and clear. On the way home we stopped at St. Peter's Village for dinner and ice cream. Those of us who still had any stamina left spent some time walking along the creek and climbing on the boulder field.

Our group starting out

The lush woodlands of French Creek State Park

French Creek State Park has many tall trees, mostly maple and birch.

On the trail

We stopped for lunch at Scotts Run Lake, one of two beautiful lakes within the park.

Hiking is such hard work! How we suffer!

By the lake, at lunch

Another view of Scotts Run Lake

Well fed hikers after lunch

The wildlife was abundant.

A view of Hopewell Lake

The boulder strewn creek at St. Peter's Village

St. Peter's Village

Climbing on boulders in the creek

Beautiful flowers still in bloom

Magnolia blossoms
The late afternoon sky was clear and bright.

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