Friday, May 29, 2015

Botes are ready!

Hello, everyone.

I think I mentioned that I had to change out the new insoles. They were too high for me at the arch. (Snapping sensation inside the instep, not good.) Switched to the Dr. Scholls Womens Work Gel insoles, yes these are the same ones they sell at HEB and Target and so on.

I also got new shoelaces: paracord! Orange! Maybe I can pick out my botes without so much cross-eyed confusion now:

The odd lacing is to lessen squashing of the top of the foot. I may change back to more conventional lacing on the bottom as we go, it's too soon to tell.

The paracord shoelaces come in a raft of colors, both bright and dull, and these were bought from the Amazon Sgt. Knots listing.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Other little bits about the Miami trip

Hello, everyone.

There were a couple of other little things I wanted to share with y'all about our trip to Miami for DD1's graduation and GS1's baptism.

One was a restaurant that we really enjoyed. It was called Latin2000 and we stopped there, in part, because we could see that it was popular. We went in and discovered that this was a place we could bust out our Spanish in. (My parents could use their English, too.) I had a burger like thing that was called something like Cubana Frita: beef and sausage patty, with cheese, shoestring potatoes, ketchup and maybe some onion. It was pretty good. I learned from DD1 later that the shoestring potatoes in a sandwich is a local thing. (They call it "potato sticks" on the menus.) My sweetie wanted to have a Tortilla Espanola ( potato and egg Spanish omelet) but he accidentally freaked them out. He asked for a "tortilla with ham, nothing else." They made it on the spot for him, egg and some ham bits, but no potatoes. I told him that his order was why he had no potatoes in his tortilla. But, really, their willingness to make it the way he asked for it is a good thing. Their Iced Tea came in cool promo cups and I took a picture of one:

The other thing I wanted to share with y'all was our experience on the way home. We were pretty tired of being on the road by then, so we skipped pretty much all sight-seeing. The first night on the road back was in Alabama, at the La Quinta there. It's right by the highway, and it's one of the most pleasant La Quintas I've ever stayed at. The lady gave us directions to the nearby grocery store, a Publix where we acquired excellent sandwiches and a bottle of wine, and she also was ready with the change when I needed quarters while doing wash. The room was clean and pleasant and roomy, too. So I give this La Quinta a Star for doing it right.

 On another subject, we're prepping to go on pilgrimage again, as you may know, and I finished a top to wear while walking:

This is orange trilobal nylon for the main fabric (you can see that it's a little bit see-through) and the piping is reflective piping. I am hoping that it may be useful when we're walking around sunrise in Portugal.

The plan, to the extent we have a plan, is to walk from Lisbon to Santarem, where there is a church that had a Eucharistic miracle some centuries back (look it up on Sacred and then to Fatima. After that, we're thinking of catching a bus ride from Fatima to Tomar, which at one time was the world headquarters of the Knights Templar, those famous protectors of pilgrims, and see the Convento de Christo there. Then walk on to Porto--sample the famous wines--and walk to Santiago de Compostela. After we pay our respects to Saint James--possibly the scaffolding will be gone from the Porto da Gloria now so we can touch the sculpture in the doorway--we'll most likely catch a train to Madrid and go back to the Prada art museum. I have hopes to take pictures of details of one of the works there, Bramontini's "Risen Christ", and use them to make a picture to hang on my wall.

I'm not normally a fan of art museums, but the Prada, and the convent Real Descalzadas last year, have made me more aware of the value of viewing the art. (Also viewing the great numbers of works in their proper places--religious works hanging in churches--opened my eyes.)

If there is confusion in the posting in the next several weeks, it is because we're on the trail. We hope to use DH's Kindle Fire to take some pictures and post them to the blog while we're traveling. The rest of the photo goodies will wait until we're home.

I am personally also hoping to encounter many opportunities for adoration: Capilla del Santissimo, they call it in Spain, places where I can sink into the wonder of contemplating Jesus face to face. I did it in Rome, at the Cahpel of St. Nicolas in St. Peter's Basilica, and it was really the high point of the trip for me. I did it last year in Santiago de Compostela, where I sank down into the kneeler in the Cathedral and gave inarticulate silent thanks for bringing me through all the foot problems and weather and lessons in trust. I hope to do so again.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Just because...

Hello, everyone.

While I haven't gotten photos from my camera to DH's Kindle yet, I have wirelessly gotten them into my own desktop computer.

Opening blossoms on my Queen Victoria Agave

My buddy.


Psycho Cat

 We walked yesterday afternoon--yes, the heat of the day!--for about 5 miles. Got where we were going in just under 2 hours, plenty hot. Sat in pool for about half an hour afterwards. But it was a pleasant walk overall, on a collection of mostly subdivision streets all the way.
Gear conclusion I have reached: the Spenco insoles I got are just not right for me. I kept having odd and uncomfortable feelings inside my soles. Yesterday I switched them out for the Dr. Scholl's Work Gel insoles that I had in my schleppy tennies. This was a great improvement.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Miami, with more about Gesu church

Hello, everyone.

We arrived in Miami for the whole point of the exercise: graduation for DD1 and baptism for GS1.

There was a short stroll in the South Beach area, where we viewed one of the new fashion "things": open lace used as pants over a swimsuit. This is laughably called a "coverup" although there isn't anything covered. (It will look okay if your swimsuit doesn't match so much that you look like you went out in just undies and the open lace. The first one we saw, the lace pants completely matched the color of the girl's two piece swimsuit. She looked like she was strolling the streets in bra, panties, and the lace pants. No top other than her swimsuit. Not a good look, in my opinion. No, I didn't take photos of people, they didn't  go out with the idea that they'd be all over the interwebs in whatever I saw them in.)

Sea-grape as I've never seen it before. (At South Padre Island, this plant is usually a small to medium sized shrub.)

Really yummy calves' liver, just before we snarfed the last bit up!
We ate lunch at a lovely Turkish restaurant called Babylon. The liver is to die for! They also had lovely hummus, eggplant, and so on. If you go to South Beach, you should definitely eat there.

The baptism was my second time to visit Gesu Church. (Y'all may remember my posts from a couple of months back, when I went to help out with GS1's arrival.) With DH on hand to help take pictures, and the kind explanations of the priest about the teaching scheme of the art, I have more to show you about Gesu.

Tympanum (?) mural showing things connected to the parish: St. Phillipine Duchenne, nun on left side, a missionary to the Indians, St. Francesca Cabrini, nun on right side, founder of hospitals and teacher of many immigrants to the US, military members representing the Army training camps during the world wars, representative Indians and farmers--and at the far right, the actual neighbors of the parish church when it was built, all joining the angels in adoration

Rose window in the choir loft. Musical angels surround the central figure of Mary. During the era of Gothic cathedral building, the rose window was a representation of the beauty of Heaven. 

The new Christian being presented to the Blessed Mother by his parents and godparents. (The family said a prayer at the statue, similar to the way many marrying couples greet the Virgin at the end of their wedding ceremony.) Above the altar, in the apse, many symbolic paintings around the edge. One is of a Eucharistic pelican.

View of the sanctuary area and the baptismal font. The font base has lovely ceramic statues of saints. Large statues in front, from left: St. Therese of the Child Jesus (the Little Flower), Mary, St. Ignatius (?), Jesus displaying His Sacred Heart, St. Francis Borgia whom I am not familiar with. Attentive readers will note that, like St. Paul's in Mission, Gesu has a painting of the Divine Mercy image of Jesus. 
Windows on the right depicting moments from the life of Christ. The windows on the left depict moments from the life of Mary. (I didn't get a good photo of them.) This picture also shows the elaborate, edifying Stations of the Cross in the church nave.
 In the March Miami post(s) there are a few more pictures of the church, showing the Last Supper carving below the Tabernacle and other items.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ocala National Forest, Florida

Hello, everyone.

The last time I posted I brought our Miami trip up to arriving in the city of Ocala. Near Ocala is a national forest--a hybrid kind of area that isn't a park, because you can fish and collect things in it, but isn't privately owned woodland, because the harvesting contracts for commercial lumber and such go through the government. They seem to be part of the legacy of Muir, who was very fond of unpeopled lands and didn't want their mystical beauty to be mussed up by such things as tour operations, farming, logging, and so on. Mr. Muir had a very great influence on the US national park system. While I don't think he's directly connected to the national forests, the idea that the forests are "patrimony" of the entire nation and should not be let go into private hands was certainly gaining a lot of steam around the time he was active.

Ocala National Forest, according to its web site, is one of the most used forest properties in the entire country. It is convenient not only to the nearby city of Ocala, Florida, but also semi-convenient to Orlando, the Space Coast, and so on. I can well believe that a lot of people go there! It's pretty.

It's also occupied by the most rapacious, stubborn, sneaky, ugly ticks and chiggers we have ever seen in our lives. I am convinced that as soon as the spy-mites saw us pause to focus the camera, they waved a flag to the field officer, who blew his teensy-tiny bug whistle and hollered "CHARGE!" They were running up our shoes. They were parachuting down from trees. And we thought we had them well picked-off before departing, but there were still more that appeared when we sat down to chat with friends. Even after we checked into the hotel that evening and showered, there were still more of the evil things!

But I was saying that the forest is pretty, so it's only fair to post some pretty after that long rant.
Deer moss, a lichen that colonized patches on the forest floor

Pretty sure this is bull nettle, whose sting is legendary

The scrub oak forest was thick and we were the first ones to go through in a while.
Many spider webs across the path!

Lake with spatterdock lilies in the midst of the pines and scrub

Pretty moss cushion

The path here was on leaves. Other places it was mostly on white sugar sand, with the occasional leaf or moss bit. Palmetto shrubs on the left. Pines in the distance, with gray Spanish moss hanging down.
The interpretive signs call the scrub forest a "desert with water" because the sugar sands it is growing in don't retain any moisture at all from the frequent rains. We saw eastern forest yuccas (a succulent family plant, somewhat more shade tolerant than Spanish Dagger yuccas) growing in the ground near trees and fern fronds sprouting from any place the spores had landed on the tree trunks. And lichen, lichen everywhere: white deer moss, red round patches on trunks, gray frilly "leaves" on twigs.

It's a pretty place to walk--we did four miles of easy trail walking and picture taking--but you really, really need to put the bug repellant on your ankles, your shoes, your socks, your get the picture. There are a few benches along the trails we walked, but I didn't see any picnic tables. There was a facility, with the standard Forest Service pit potty, where we parked the car. Bring your own hand sanitizer. Also, like most Forest Service properties, there is not much in the way of concessionaires in the forest itself, so pack your drinks and your lunch, and get your fishing license before you head off to drown worms in the little patch of wild in the middle of Florida.

Monday, May 18, 2015

test post

Hello everyone.

This is a test of posting from kindle.

The top photo is the Esperanza shrub as taken on the kindle.
The bottom photo is a fuschia from the last day of the Camino Frances in 2014.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 3: Ocala

Hello, everyone.

We left Gulf Shores, after a really enjoyable night and morning stroll, and drove down the road.

We encountered signs saying "Stennis Exclusion Zone" but didn't feel excluded by anything...unless you count the endless green tunnel that is Interstate 10. (They planted it with a wall of pines years ago, which has since grown up a very thick understory. Sometimes there will be a tree or shrub that one recognizes--at 80 MPH--as a Native Magnolia or possibly an invasive Chinese Tallow tree. Mostly there is just the endless wall of green, and no view of the landscape at all beyond it.)

We stopped for a small bathroom break at the Mississippi Welcome Center.

The magnolia trees are blooming!

I saw the spare Lunar Module at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum years ago. It looked like an excessively delicate construction of Saran Wrap, tinfoil, and Tinkertoys. This practice model looks sturdier. 

Explanatory sign.

They had free hot dogs, too! One of the state parks had set up a temporary free food stand so people would take their pamphlets and consider playing in the waterfall there.
We made it to Ocala, which, it turned out, was quite close to other places on our list. But we found a La Quinta and settled in for the night. After going out for dinner and to score a bottle of Spanish wine, if we could find it.

En route to finding dinner, we stopped at the local liquor store in hopes of a nice bottle of Spanish wine: ABC Liquors. The name didn't make us optomistic, but once in side we were pleasantly surprised. They had an excellent wine selection, and there were sales guys around the place, too. The wine guy was very helpful, and he introduced us to a wine called Temperamento Bobal, from the Pyrenees I think. It turned out to be a very dark red with lots of grape skin in it, but good flavor. And flavor is what it's about, IMHO.

We ate at a place called Cody's Roadhouse. This was not a cheap hamburger joint, it was a moderately priced steak joint instead. The waitress was proud to tell us that they make all their sauces in-house. (And the dressing and the cinnamon butter were good.) The tossed salad had a pleasant surprise: briny little green peppers, just a little bit piquant, but not so hot to qualify as "picoso." DH opined that their garlic-mash potato dish was overseasoned. As I don't eat much potato any more, I had chosen the steamed vegetables, and they were really good.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Enjoying our trip, day 2

Hello, everyone.

When we left Beaumont, we drove along the coast, stopping at the Welcome Centers the various states have built at the state lines. We got maps and a collection of brochures at them. (The lady at the Louisiana one was very friendly, informative, and helpful. She found for me a couple of magazines with recipes  printed for various Louisiana foods. Also, the Louisiana welcome center had free coffee.)

The Alabama welcome center is currently not where it is supposed to be. We saw the "remodeling project" from the highway, and it looks like they tore the building down to its concrete foundation pad! The temporary digs are in a town at the outskirts of Mobile. The ladies there are friendly and helpful, too.

We stayed in Gulf Shores that night.
Dawn from the balcony of our suite

As you can see, the sand at Gulf Shores isn't as brown as the sand at South Padre Island, Texas, nor is it as coarse and white as the sand at Destin, Florida.

The hotel we stayed at: Phoenix All Suites Hotel.

Little birdie getting his breakfast at the incoming morning tide.
We tried some Alabama wine--the liquor store only had in-state wine, and we got the driest one we could see on their little shelf unit. It was drinkable, but I can't really say I like it. Most of the offerings were "sweet Muscadine table wine" and I just don't like the sweet wines. YMMV.

We got some really good fried whitefish at the Shrimp Basket (I think that's the name of that chain) and DH had shrimp grits. I thought the shrimp grits were tasty but a bit on the thick side--I really liked my fried fish, however. This chain food place served its wine (an anonymous white Zin) in plastic punch cups, the kind you use for kids' parties. I don't think it hurt the wine any--but it didn't help it either.

The next morning, after taking about a mile walk on the sand in the early light, we stopped for coffee at the local Krispy Kreme and headed out. They make good coffee at Krispy Kreme!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Now I have the pictures...

Hello, everyone.

I promised pictures from Beaumont, Texas a few days back, and I can put them up now. (The first attempt to post pictures disappeared into the void. Thanks, La Quinta computers!)

We got to Beaumont around 3 PM, after a smooth drive that even went through Houston without any real traffic trouble. Before we got together with friends, we drove around looking for a hike-able bit of the Big Thicket. That didn't work out. The parklike reservation is chopped up into a lot of different pieces and many of them are just the streambanks on the local rivers and creeks, with no real access. Guess I had to have had a boat.

We drove over to Tyrell Park and discovered the Botanical Garden instead. (Y'all may have noticed that I'm a bit of a flower nut.) This was peaceful and beautiful and very relaxing.

The sign at the entrance to the greenhouse part. Note the artichoke plants at the base of the tree!

Slipper type orchids in pots in the greenhouse.

Cattleya type orchids in a pot in the greenhouse

They had two ponds of koi in the greenhouse. These are the larger ones.

Outside, they had planted a wooden arbor with pretty, pink climbing roses.

Bromeliad in blossom, in one of the planting beds on the grounds.

Monday, May 11, 2015

On the road again...the stuck post rediscovered!

Hello, everyone. (This is from Sunday, May 3, 2015--and the pictures I tried to upload got stuck in a forever freeze. Soon!)

We're traveling to visit DD1 and en route we visited Beaumont, Texas.

Beaumont is a good-sized city east of Houston and west of Lake Charles, Louisiana. We stayed at the La Quinta there--pleasant place, clean room--and we strolled through the Botanical Gardens there at Tyrell Park.

We stayed at the La Quinta there. Friends in town took us to a lovely restaurant called White Horse, where the food was excellent.

Pictures from the botanical garden in Beaumont are coming soon.


Hello, everyone!

I am on the road just now, not even in my home state, but I wanted to post this small update.

There will be pictures in a few days, when I get home! (Or sooner if I can figure out how to upload on hotel computers.)

We were blessed to attend the graduation of DD1 and the baptism of GS1, both on the same weekend, in Miami.

And there are some pretty pictures of flowers, too.

Quick rundown: Beaumont, Texas, Miami, Ocala National Forest (where we got very up close and personal with WAY TOO MANY voracious ticks and chiggers!). The Floridians grow their creepy crawlies to be very aggressive. Don't stop to take a picture there. Or at least remember all that paranoid advice about drenching your socks and shoes in bug repellant.

(I'd put up a picture right now, but this is the best internet luck I've had in days and days and so I didn't even bring the camera chip and reader with me to put something up. Soon! I promise.)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Just because

Hello, everyone.

I have some pictures that aren't really topical to anything, well, except flowers in springtime, that I wanted to share.

Dill, saved from where it sprouted in the grass

Buds of the African Iris plant
Blossoms of the African Iris. They are only open for a day or so.
Feijoa. This bush has really appreciated all the rain we've been getting.
A rose for all the moms
It was a late, chilly winter, but without a freeze. Then the spring has been wet and late. All the flowers are loving it! (Mosquitoes too, of course. But DH rebuilt the Purple Martin house and we have three or four pairs that have moved into it. Things are looking up on the bug front.)