Oahu Splendor-Part I, and Luau Teriyaki Chicken

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The number one item on our Bucket List has always been to visit each and every one of the fifty American states. And now, after fifty years, we can officially check that one as done. We visited Hawaii in November, having a great time and learning, once again, so very much about the world in which we live.

I say we visited Hawaii, yet we actually visited only one of the five islands that make up the state of Hawaii. The island of Oahu afforded us some fantastic and breathtaking sites, along with incredible new food experiences.

Our first view of Oahu came as we circled around to land at the airport in Honolulu. That is Diamond Head at the top of the picture.

Diamond Head, called Le’ahi in early Hawaii, is a tuff cone from a volcano that erupted some 100,000 years ago. The volcano that formed Diamond Head is no longer active. Its tuff cone was formed as cinder and ash accumulated following the volcanic eruption. No matter what formed it, I found it a spectacular site. Also amazing was having the ability to “look” beneath the surface, into the shallow edge of the Pacific Ocean. But if you look out to that very deep blue color…that color is what informs you that the ocean is not shallow very far out, as it drops off very quickly to enormous depths.

While on Oahu, we took several tours to see nature on the island. We did not spend the greatest amount of time in the city of Honolulu…I am a creature of nature, and nature is where we went. The island is beautiful once you make it out into the countryside…

One of the places we visited was the Waimea Falls Park. It is on the north side of the island and has a trail through a tropical forest to Waimea Waterfall.

We were treated to so many new sights…things people from the Midwest will never see at home…

Along the trail you can stop at a reconstruction of a historical Hawaiian village including signage which helps explain the lives of the people who lived on the islands many, many years ago.

What I liked best about my trip to Hawaii was the clouds. The clouds on the island were, for me, mesmerizing. I could not take my eyes off of them, and I will never forget them. As they form and move across the island, they run into the two ranges of mountains on Oahu. They are unable to climb over the mountains, and so they lay on them, slowly dropping their moisture as gentle rains. I tried all the time we were there, and was never able to get a picture to convey what I actually saw as I looked at the magnificent clouds every morning, every evening, and throughout most of the day.

One of the most amazing things you will see on Oahu are the flowers. They are abundant, and they are beautiful. Here is a collection of some of the flowers we saw on the island. I have tried to identify as many of them as possible…

One flower is very important to the people of the Hawaiian Islands…the Hibiscus. Hibiscus “breeders” have hybridized the plant to many different varieties.  You will find them everywhere, and they are beautiful. The Yellow hibiscus is the state flower.

We stopped at an overlook on the way back to town one night.

While the view was gorgeous, I most enjoyed the tree we saw climbing up to the overlook. I have no idea what kind of tree it is, but the trunk was amazing. I also like the way the flower has found a home in the crook of the trunk.

And two more pictures…just because I cannot resist sharing them!

Hawaii is an amazing place. If you find yourself on Oahu, make sure you get out of Honolulu, off the beach at Waikiki, and into the countryside, into the real Hawaii. We want to go back someday to see the big island of Hawaii, to visit the big volcanoes, some of which are still active.

In my next post I will share the historical and cultural places we visited while on the island of Oahu.

On these really cold days of December, here in the middle of America, I can’t help but remember how warm it was on the island of Oahu, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in the middle of November.

Luau Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

While we were on Oahu we attended two luaus. They are so much fun and the food is simply fantastic. The teriyaki chicken was our favorite dish at the first luau The natural setting for the luau was smaller and more intimate. It was our favorite of the two luaus we enjoyed. We were brought to the stage with other couples celebrating anniversaries, and as this was our fiftieth anniversary, we both received authentic flower leis, and I got a beautiful bouquet of flowers. A gentleman sitting with us took our picture…kind of grainy, but I love it anyway. What a special evening!

Before I give you the recipe, here are some shots from our first luau

Luau Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

  • Servings: 4
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A taste of Oahu at home in the contiguous 48.

I adapted this recipe only very slightly from Creme de la Crumb

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs (I have the butcher debone the them for me)
  • 1 1/3 c. soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. rice vinegar
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, Place chicken thighs in a greased baking dish in a single layer.
  2. Combine 1 cup of soy sauce, the water, rice vinegar, ginger, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes, and garlic in a saucepan. Bring this mixture to a boil.
  3. When the sauce begins to boil, mix the remaining 1/3 cup of soy sauce with the corn starch until it is dissolved and add this mixture to the boiling sauce. Cook and stir to thicken for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Pour half the sauce over the chicken, turning to make sure the thighs are covered with sauce.
  5. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Check to make sue the chicken is 165 degrees at it thickest point.
  6. Carefully remove thighs to a cutting board and cut if you would like. Serve on a plate with the remaining sauce and extra sesame seeds for garnish.

Enjoy!

Nature Close to Home…and the Very Best Way to Prepare Fish

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We live in a world that at times seems turned upside down. Often I feel a need to make sure I am standing, and thinking, right-side up. So I go outside, I go into nature, I go where it is quiet, taking with me only those people I want to have close, and who want to be close to me.

Within an hour’s drive of our home in mid-Missouri is Montauk State Park. It is far from any big city, it reaches into the edge of the Ozarks, and I love the place. I love Montauk in any season, at any time of day, and in any kind of weather. Missouri’s state parks are incredible, and they have free admission whether you are a citizen of Missouri or you come from any other place in the world. Montauk is the park closest to me…so, it is my personal favorite.

I love Montauk in the springtime…

I love Montauk in the fall…

That is because spring and fall are my favorite seasons in Missouri. But mostly I love Montauk any season at all…

I love the same landscape every time I visit, yet dressed differently. Here are some of my favorite shots from over the years…

I love the fauna…

and the effects some of that fauna have…

I love the flora…

Our state parks will often have public programs. Montauk is one of Missouri’s trout fishing parks, and many activities and programs based on fishing are offered at the park. But they have many other programs, including hikes, night sky viewing, and children’s programs.

Montauk was, at one time, a small village on the Current River, and near several springs. It was the perfect place for a mill to service people in the area. The last mill built at Montauk was constructed in 1896, and still stands on the property today. Several times each year, the park gives tours of the mill. A most exciting project has begun that will make these visits to the mill even more fun. The original equipment is being restored, and in not such a very long time, Montauk will once again be milling grain to be sold on site. I can’t wait!

If ever you find yourself in mid-Missouri I strongly suggest visiting Montauk State Park.

But if you never get to my part of the woods, state parks are all across our land. No matter where we wander, where we roam, where we travel…countries across the globe have established parks for people; parks to explore, parks in which to learn about this amazing world…parks to cherish.

So, go on, go find a park…relax, take a deep breath, I promise the world will look better, and you will feel better too!

Easy, and Best Fish Recipe

This is the very easiest way to make the very best tasting fish. It is so simple and uncomplicated, making sure that the fish is the star of the show. Whether you catch your own fish in a stream near you, or buy sustainably caught fish at the market, you will love this recipe.

The Very Best Fish Recipe

  • Difficulty: easy
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Place a cast iron grill pan under the broiler for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is sizzling hot. There is nothing better than the sound of the sizzle you will hear when you lay the fish on that hot pan!

Ingredients

  • fish to be grilled
  • melted butter
  • bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • herbs to compliment the fish, to taste

Directions

While the grill pan heat under the broiler…pat the fish dry. Liberally lay bread crumbs on each piece of fish to cover. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice. Drizzle melted butter over the fish and place on the sizzling grill. Is that sound amazing or what!

Grill 3 to 4 minutes til fish is done.

Enjoy!

Our Own Apples From Our Own Yard…One Colonial Dessert

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A couple activities came together nicely for me this week…

The first happened around our apple tree…

Many years ago, one of our sons gave us an apple tree, something we had wanted for a very long time. I am not exaggerating when I say many years ago, for it has to be at least fifteen. For the first ten years we had never once seen an apple on that tree. It blossomed beautifully each and every year, but produced no apples. Then we learned it takes two apple trees to produce apples, so we purchased another tree of a different variety of apple. And we waited…and waited…

Until three year ago when, finally we found apples developing on the original tree. We were so excited, and could hardly wait to eat the very first apples from our own backyard.

We left on vacation, and when we returned, every single one of those apples was gone…seriously, every single one. I blamed raccoons, squirrels, opossums, deer (remember, I live in the city), and even wondered if there were not some hungry teenagers lurking around in the dark enjoying our anticipated harvest while we were away. For two more years, we had the same result…even if we did not go out of town.

Then, this year, the trees blossomed, apples appeared…

and apples remained. I wanted so badly to pick those apples, but I waited. Finally, I went out and picked apples. I was willing to share…I brought some into the house, and left a large number, particularly those high up in the tree that I could not reach, for any creatures that had enjoyed our apples in the past.

The apples were not the most beautiful, but they were ours, and they were absolutely delicious…

Now on to the second part of my story. Every couple of years, I get the urge to go through every item we own. I am supposed to be down-sizing when I do this, not sure how successful I am at that aspect of my sorting.

As I was going through all the cookbooks I have purchased at different historical sites across the country and abroad, I came across a small book I purchased at one of the sites. It brought back so many memories of trips we have taken with our children and our grandchildren.

One of the recipes in the book was for Apple Tansey. I thought how fun it would be to make something from the apples in our own yard, just as colonial Americans made dishes from the apples in their own yards.

The recipe calls for three pippins, so I did some research…

The Algonquin Indians introduced apples to European colonists living in Quebec. We are not sure about the variety of those first apples. A pippin is a variety of apple that was cultivated in the American colonies, and still is today. It is apparently not the best eating apple, but makes very good apple cider.

The recipe for Apple Tansey is written in paragraph form, so I have tried to put it in some kind of acceptable recipe format. I also determined some of the measurements myself, since some of the items were not written with regard to amount.

It was delicious! Though meant to be a dessert after a family meal in colonial times, it made a great breakfast for us…especially after we drizzled it with some authentic Vermont maple syrup…

Fresh apples frying in butter in a cast iron frying pan.

Not the prettiest presentation, but I put it on a fancy heritage plate…and Jim was dutifully impressed!

All in all it was a great week…getting our own apples, sorting through the moments of our lives, enjoying an old fashioned dessert on an old fashioned plate, in our almost one hundred year old house. Life can be so much fun sometimes!

Apple Tansey

A great apple dessert or breakfast entree.

This recipe is adapted from “Colonial Food”, by Ann Chandonnet. It was published in 2013 by Shire Publications in Great Britain.

Ingredients

  • 3 pippins (cooking apples of your choice)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 Tbsp. half and half
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • dash of nutmeg

Directions

  1. Core the apples, peel , and slice them round in thin slices.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Fry the apples in the melted butter until soft, but not browned.
  4. Mix together the 4 eggs, sugar, half and half, and nutmeg.
  5. Pour the egg mixture over the apples and let them fry until set, lowering the heat if you need to in order that it does not get too brown on the bottom.. Lift the sides of the eggs, allowing the uncooked portions to slide to the bottom and cook.
  6. Turn out onto a plate. Sprinkle with sugar and serve.
  7. Drizzle with maple syrup for an added treat!

Enjoy!

Blue Sky, Blue Water

The waters of the Mississippi River do not always appear blue. This river is not naturally blue. The Mighty Mississippi River is filled with sediment, filled with mud coming in from the Big Muddy, the Missouri River. But on a bright blue and clear day, when the sky is a sapphire blue, the waters in and near the Mississippi River are a beautiful, shimmering reflection of that which is mirrored onto it. I love this river in all its iterations, but when its waters look like this…well, that is just the best!

In response to Ragtime Prompts, Blue

Wanderings and Music on the Tallgrass Prairie…Oh, and Bierocks, Too

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I live in the American Midwest. Many Americans call this “fly-over country”, and within that unseen part of the country is what is known as “drive right through it country.” If you are the type of traveler that sticks to the interstate highway, zooming through state after state, as quickly as you can in order to get to those famous mountains and ski resorts in the western United States…well yes, Kansas and Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska become “drive all night to get through them” states. And you would be missing so much of what is beautiful about this vast nation.

The best example of a traveler’s missed opportunity I can think of is the state of Kansas. If road trippers would get off of I-70 and drive along Kansas state and county roads, they would find a land that is beautiful and mesmerizing, a place that makes you understand how big this country really is, and how vast its opportunities. We have driven along Kansas highways and byways many times, and I never tire of its beauty and its openness. As my granddaughter would say, “It’s so grand, Grandma!”

This is America’s heartland, and the world’s breadbasket. Once, this heartland was covered in acre upon acre of tallgrass prairie. Today the National Park Service estimates there is less than 4% of the original prairie remaining. Other sources estimate a mere 1%, while some optimistic souls believe there may be as much as 18% remaining due to unknown patches here and there. Original  prairie refers to tallgrass landscape that has never been plowed for other uses.

The largest swath of original tallgrass prairie remaining is in the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas. It extends from the northern border of Kansas on the Nebraska border, 200 miles south to just inside the state of Oklahoma. It is 80 miles wide at its widest point.

Its rocky terrain made it an undesirable area for farming. If you walk through the tallgrass prairie of the Flint Hills you will find pieces of chert, big and small, scattered across the landscape. The underlying bedrock of the area is limestone and shale. Over time this bedrock weathers, erodes and dissolves. Chert is a very hard rock found within the layers of the bedrock. When the limestone and shale erode away, the chert is left behind. Another name for chert is flint, and flint is what Native Americans used to make their spear and arrow heads.

Chert, or flint, is left behind when softer rocks around it erode. You will find flint scattered throughout the tallgrass prairie of the Flint Hills.

We have been to the Flint Hills before, but one of my bucket list items has always been to attend the “Symphony in the Flint Hills”. This year was the year, and we gave each other the trip to the symphony as Christmas gifts. We spent three days exploring Kansas in addition to attending the concert.  We were also excited to visit a place about which I have read a lot…Konza Prairie in Manhattan, Kansas. It was a major goal…to walk that prairie!

I have visited several prairies in Missouri, where our Conservation Department has saved many remnants of original prairie. But, honestly, there is simply nothing I have ever experienced on the prairie quite like the thrill of hiking Konza Prairie…even if it was 100 degrees when we finished (that is why you start out early in the day)! Please understand, trees are not a common feature in the tallgrass prairie, and that sun is hot as you approach noon. We were happy we had taken a lot of water with us…and our hats. The following pictures are but a few of the many I took as we hiked the shortest trail, about 2 1/2 miles.

Starting out on the trail.

This creek, dry this time of year, these trees, were a welcome sight after a couple hours in the bright sunshine of the Kansas prairie!

When you hike the prairie, landscape is not all there is to take in. I have never seen so many butterflies on so many flowers in all my life…and I have been around a very long time. Butterfies, wildflowes, birds on plant tops…I call it eye candy!

Butterfly Milkweed and Leadplant

And so, so many butterflies…

We saw many birds, but this Dickcissel sat still for me the longest……

Finally it was time to experience the purpose of this trip…the “Symphony in the Flint Hills”. We arrived early in the day, and took in the many events that are part of this big day. We heard talks on issues important to those who live in, as well as those who visit the Flint Hills, took walks through the open land, and rode a covered wagon, until we got to the highlight of the day…the Kansas City Orchestra playing on the open prairie as the sun sets and the sky becomes a field of stars in every direction. It is simply stunning.

As we mulled around the ranch which was the site of this year’s concert, we took the opportunity to take a ride on a covered wagon.

Just as dusk fell, the concert began, and it was amazing!

And absolutely nothing beats music, out in the open air, watching the sun set on the immense American tallgrass prairie!

A trip to the middle of America, a trip to the tallgrass prairie is a truly inspiring experience. I hope you might consider stopping sometime in this fly-over country, country Midwesterners call Kansas! To learn more about the “Symphony in the Flint Hills”, you can visit their website. More information on Konza Prairie can be found on the Nature Conservancy website

Bierocks

While visiting a new place, I always like to find a food that is unique to the area. In Kansas, I found Bierocks (pronounced “brocks”). Bierocks are a traditional German food, brought over by immigrants who settled in Kansas and established the farming that has made Kansas part of the world’s greatest supplier of food.

Bierocks are traditionally made with ground beef. I use ground bison for our bierocks, it is lower in fat than beef, and is a traditional food source of the western United States. For many years you could not find bison to purchase for food, but there is a resurgence in its use…and it tastes really good.

These little pocket meals are tasty, and though they take a bit of work, we always have extras. I put the leftover Bierocks in the freezer, and we take them out from time to time for a quick and delicious lunch that takes only two minutes to heat in the microwave.

Bierocks

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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This recipe has been adapted from “Taste of Home”

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 5-5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 1/8 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (it is the only kind I use)
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg

For filling

  • 1 lb. ground bison (you may use ground beef instead)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 lb. shredded cabbage, cooked and drained

Directions

To make the dough:

  1. Combine 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt in your mixer bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Heat water, milk, and butter in a small pan just until the butter has melted, no warmer than 130 degrees.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.
  4. Add egg.
  5. At low speed, blend until moistened, then beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.
  6. Gradually add remaining flour by hand, until you have a stiff dough.
  7. Knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes.
  8. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.
  9. Cover and let rise in a warm place free of drafts until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down and let rise again until almost doubled.

To make the filling:

  1. Brown bison with the onion, salt and pepper, then drain.
  2. Mix in the cabbage and set aside.

Putting it all together:

  1. Divide the dough in half
  2. Roll each piece into an approximate rectangle that is 15×10 inches. (Mine never looks like a real rectangle!)
  3. Cut into 5 inch squares and spoon about 1/2 cup of meat mixture onto each of the squares.
  4. Bring up the sides of the dough to enclose the filling, pinching it closed to form a meat pocket that looks a lot like a hamburger bun.
  5. Place on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Enjoy!

How To Do Las Vegas Our Way, and Indian Bread Tacos

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We have always had a goal of visiting each of the fifty states. As this, our fiftieth year of marriage began, we set our sights on reaching that goal, visiting the two states we had not yet seen. In April we flew to Nevada to check off state #49. I was not particularly excited…my knowledge of Nevada was limited, and when thinking about Nevada, the mental connections I made were desert, Las Vegas, and gambling.

But then we took a tour of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and my mind’s eye view of Nevada will never be the same.

Millions of years ago, the land that is now Red Rock Canyon laid under a deep ocean. When this ocean receded it left behind deposits of shells and the skeletons of ocean life that lay up to 9,000 feet thick. These deposits, when compressed, formed into limestone and other carbonate rocks.

Over subsequent millions of years, the land changed again and again. At one point, movement deep within the Earth caused the sea bed to rise. Mud and sand entered from streams draining into the landscape and eventually became compressed into shale and sandstone.

By 180 million years ago, the area became the arid desert we know today. Red Rock Canyon is in the Mojave Desert, the driest desert in North America. The dunes that stretched across the area blew and blew, they shifted, then shifted again. The dunes grew and they receded, and over time, they formed lines, “crossbeds” which were cemented together by new sediments, fusing them forever. Iron present in the  sandstone is what gives the rock in the canyon its red color.

And then, finally, about 65 million years ago, there was a dramatic uplift, the Keystone Thrust Fault, from deep within the Earth’s crust. This caused the oldest rock in the crust, the gray limestone carbonate rocks to push up and above the younger sandstone.

To take a look at Red Rock Canyon, we took a jeep tour with a knowledgeable and passionate guide. He took us all around the canyon and answered any and every question we had. If you ever find your way to Las Vegas, look up Pink Jeep for some of the very best tours available anywhere.

One of my favorite places in the canyon is that place where you can see real evidence of Native American life and activity from centuries long past. We spent a bit of time in this area, enjoying the beauty of the place, as well as discussing the lives of the people who, at one time, called this place home. Hunter-gatherers were the first to inhabit the area, with the most recent occupations being of the Paiute and Anasazi people.

These petroglyphs on the red sandstone are evidence of a people who wished to leave evidence of their having been here, their having been part of the story of mankind…

The rock formations in this area are absolutely amazing…

There is evidence at several places of fire pits that were used by the Native Americans. Today those fire pits are home to many desert plants.

I love the flora of any landscape, and Red Rock Canyon was no exception. The canyon is filled with beautiful wildflowers, trees, and bushes. Here are my favorites…

The most impressive was this very old, lone Juniper Tree…

This Cliff Rose was my very favorite…

The Creosote is a very important plant in the arid desert landscape…

This squat little Barrel Cactus…

There are Joshua Trees everywhere throughout the park…

I loved looking “through” this Joshua Tree…

This beautiful Desert Marigold…

and the unique Desert Rhubarb…

So, if you ever find yourself thinking about a trip to the American southwest, and you are not a city person, or a gambler; you would describe yourself more a nature lover, an adventurer, don’t count Las Vegas out. Once outside town, and its hotels where you can spend your nights. there is so much more to the area than casinos and glitzy shows. I am so glad we found ourselves in Nevada!

Indian Bread Tacos

After returning home, I found this recipe, and tweaked it a bit, to help us remember the time we spent at Red Rock Canyon. Fry Bread was a typical bread made by Native American women…and these bread tacos are delicious, and we think much more filling than typical tacos.

Indian Fry Bread Tacos

  • Servings: 6
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Fun and filling way to make tacos.

Ingredients

For the Bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp.salt
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup warm water

Directions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients and add warm water. Work with hands until dough forms and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Break dough off to a bit larger than the size of a golf ball.
  3. Roll dough into 6 inch circles.
  4. Fry each piece in 2 inches of hot oil in a medium saucepan. When the dough is golden and poofed up, turn the bread and fry on the other side. Drain on a paper towel.

Ingredients

For the Topping

  • 1 pound of ground beef or ground bison
  • 1 pkg. Taco seasoning
  • 1/2 of a 15 oz. can of refried beans
  • 2/3 cup water, you may add a bit more if you like.
  • shredded lettuce
  • diced tomatoes
  • sour cream

Directions

  1. Brown ground meat.
  2. Add package of taco seasoning and the water.
  3. Stir in the refried beans.
  4. To assemble the taco. place some of the meat mixture on top of a fry bread, then top with lettuce, tomatoes, and a dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy!

The Lines of Time

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We have just returned from a trip to Las Vegas where the highlight of our trip was a tour of Red Rock Canyon. The lines of time can be seen everywhere in the park,

lines from the layering over time of sedimentary sandstone…

and lines caused by folding that occurred during dramatic uplifts…

as our Earth was forming and preparing itself to be our home.

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge

Just Me and My Camera…Sunrise and Sunset

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Almost fourteen years ago, April 17, 2004, I was doing one of the things I always liked best…bicycling on the Katy Trail, the very best bike trail in mid-America, right here in Missouri. And suddenly, in the middle of a beautiful ride, I had a heart attack. I am fine now, probably healthier than I was before that day…

But I am changed. I wake up each and every morning and instantly feel a smile crawl across my face…it is a new day, and I have another chance to make the most of all I have been given. I never understood how precious that is until I almost lost it.

Shortly after my illness I woke up each morning and rushed out to see the sun rise. I created a small portfolio of 30 sunrise pictures that I named “A Month of Sunrise”. I even took a picture on the days the sun could not be seen. I knew it was there in the eastern sky…right where that brighter spot was. It started as just a trigger to get me going, to wake up my day to what it could be, but by the end of the month it was so much more.

I noticed things I had never noticed before. I learned to look at the whole sky. There were so many colors behind me that I had never before turned to see. I saw people up and about, starting their day just as I was starting mine. I realized that for each of them, there were things they were thinking about…some good things and some bad things, some things that filled them with joy, some things that terrified them. For each of us, we were facing a new day…and it would be whatever we would make of it. I learned to listen as well as to look. I heard birds I had never noticed before. I heard wind blowing through the trees, across the field, behind the buildings. I smelled the dew, and the freshness of a new day. I saw critters waking up and starting their daily routine. I understood better than ever before that the world is a lot of us, doing a lot of things, living a lot of different realities.

I no longer take any day for granted, and I still run out to see the sun rise every chance I get. Sometimes, when I am visiting them, or they are visiting me, my children come with me. They, too, have learned to welcome a new beginning each day.

My favorite sunrise picture is one I took at one of our favorite places along the Mississippi River, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary. It was shortly after my husband had recovered from a significant illness, and the bright sunshine was the beginning of a truly good day…an almost perfect day…

Falling in love with the sunrise, led me to begin to notice the sunset. The morning sunrise got me going, the sunset gave me time to reflect on how I had done with this one more day I had been given…so many one more days! One of my favorite sunsets was on a trip we made to southern Missouri, on a small lake…

The sunrise gets me going, lights my way…the sunset makes me grateful, and helps me to sleep each night…after I run out to catch the moon in whatever phase it is in!

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, Rise/Set

 

Just Me and My Camera…in My Favorite Place

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I go to my favorite place to be quiet, to be thoughtful, to reflect, to be renewed, and to escape all those things that would steal away all the goodness that is my life. I go to the woods…

in the spring to see the earth wake up after its long slumber…

I go to the woods in the summer when the whole world is alive…

I go to the woods in the autumn when it is alive with the vibrant colors of its last dance before the cold winds blow…

and I go to the woods in the winter, as it rests, and so must I…

Just me and my camera…in my favorite place!

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge My Favorite Place

I’d Rather Be…

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in the woodland…

on the prairie…

at the ocean…

in the mountains…

But if today I cannot be those places, I want to be right here…

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge