Friday, October 17, 2014

Happy 93rd Birthday!

My Beautiful Tante Aase
My Aunt Aase is the last of her generation on my Mother's side of the family.  She was married to my handsome Uncle Knut, my mother's brother, who passed away (way too young!) in the 1970s.

She turned 93 last month, and I totally forgot I had this photo to post!  So, I'm trying to make up for that.

Aase is a great lady.  She has been kind and hard-working all her life. She is a terrific cook and baker.  I loved visiting at her house when I was a kid.

You'd never guess her age without the number on the cake there to remind you, would you?

Hope you are doing well, Tante!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

TBT: The Caprican Years

Yours Truly with Scott and Meldee
(The vehicle behind us was a converted Zamboni - an original from the TV series)
There's an old, animated feature-length cartoon that has a line in it that goes: "We were young.  We were wolves."  My friends and I often quote that.

Because we're weird.

We weren't actually EVER really wolves.  It's just a thing to say.

Because how do you explain all the odd things we used to do?  Yeah.  We played dress up and had lots of parties in fake, alien surroundings.  We spent a lot of time in outer space. And we had a LOT OF FUN doing it.

Recently my friend Scott in Indiana unearthed a centuries old photo (see above) of some interesting aliens: a couple of Caprican women and a dashing Colonial fighter pilot.

Okay.  We were really into the original Battlestar Galactica TV series at the time.  You know, the one that Glen A. Larson produced as a "Wagon Train to the stars"?  The one that starred Lorne Greene and had a bunch of evil robots called Cylons in it?  You remember.

Or, maybe you don't remember.  It came out in 1978.  That's a long, long time ago.  It now also seems like it took place in a galaxy far, far away.

That's why I decided I had to share this with you for Throwback Thursday!

I think we did a pretty good job of copying the costumes:

Actress Jane Seymour as a Caprican woman
It suddenly occurs to me that I still have that dress... in a closet somewhere...

The Original Cast main characters were played by
(L to R) Maren Jensen (seated), Dirk Benedict, Richard Hatch and Loren Greene

Halloween was a lot more fun back then.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Those Kids Just Keep Growing!

Fred is busy writing letters
You will have to indulge me today.  I haven't posted photos of my great niece and nephew for a long while, so I am doing so today.  After all, they are small and keep growing so fast... well, I don't want to miss out on any opportunity to show you how adorable they are!

And smart.  They are both very smart.

Livia, is also busy with paper and pen
It seems like our entire family has an obsession with paper and pens.  We are all avid readers and writers.  Must be in the genes!

Fredrik can already write his name
Fredrik is already writing his name.  Good job, Fredrik. (I just now noticed you are left handed!)

Of course, art work is important
Kids always enjoying drawing pictures.  Livia and Fred look very intent on their tasks.

And then, of course, one must have a showing of the finished art.  Fredrik really loves Legos at the moment.  This piece is no doubt entitled, Homage to Lego.

Having a proper showing of your art work is also important
You can just see the pretty ponies down in the bottom left corner of the photo above.  I will venture a guess those belong to Livia...

Our lovely Miss Livia is getting tall!
This has been your update on the adorable youngest generation of my family.  Aren't they cute?

I'm not biased at all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Robin Red Breast, Part Deux

Robin in the Oak Tree
If you've been following this blog for a while, you may remember a post I did this summer (see my post of May 28, 2014) about a Robin's nest my friend in Connecticut found outside her kitchen window.

My friend sent me a follow-up to that post back in July that I squirreled away and completely forgot to post.  So, now, a few months later (sorry about that!), I've decided to repent and share it with you before too much more time has slipped by and winter sets in.

Donna wrote that a few days after the baby Robins left the nest in the bush outside her window, she saw a Robin in the big Oak tree in her back garden.  He had grass in his beak and it looked like he was building a nest!

She says, "I tried to tell it there was an empty nest nearby that it could use, but instead it hopped over to a fork in the branch [of the big oak tree]."

Upon closer inspection, Donna could tell there was a nearly finished, brand new nest there.

A little chubby Robin on the fence
So here we go again, she thought!

The next day, she looked up at the nest to see two Robins there.  One appeared to be feeding the other, and then flew over to the fence.  That's when Donna grabbed her camera and took the photo (see above) of the bird.

You can see the speckles on its breast.

She couldn't tell if this was one of the birds she had watched hatch the previous little family, but she hoped it was.  Donna had read that Robins can have two broods in a season.

Robin in the Oak tree
It seemed like the Momma Robin sat forever on that nest!  She probably thought it seemed like forever, too.

Momma Robin and her nest
Then one morning there were two little beaks bobbing up above the rim of the nest!

Two little baby birds
The Mommy bird was quite busy feeding the young ones

This little guy is posing for the camera
Some days later, Donna writes, she got the feeling something was wrong.  She didn't see any activity in the tree!

No adults were stopping to feed the babies, although the baby Robins shouldn't have been old enough to leave the nest yet.

The next morning she found the reason:

The fallen nest
Sadly, she concluded a predator must have found the nest, and it had fallen out of the tree.

Donna was very sad about this.  She had been enjoying her little avian neighbors!

Then, that same day, she was puttering around in her garden and saw a little mound of grey in the tall grass.

A baby in the grass
It was one of the baby Robins!  It was still alive!

In her excitement, she got too close, and discovered the little guy's parents were still around.  They were not happy with her!  They cheeped loudly in alarm and the baby went running into the safety of the brush pile behind him.

His stubby little tail feathers show he's still too young to fly, but he was still alive and his parents were still watching out for him!  That was comforting.

The next day, Donna saw him again.  She tells me she was careful to stay back that time,.   She didn't want to alarm the little family.

The little Robin baby
That was the last time Donna saw the little Robin.  She hopes he was able to get good cover in the tall grass until he was able to mature enough to be able to fly.

That's what she hopes, anyway.

I hope so, too!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Hong Kong Umbrella Movement

The Umbrella has become a symbol for the People's Movement protest against the Government
When Hong Kong reverted back to Chinese rule in 1997, many folks questioned what would happen.  For years, things have seemed to be okay, placid, even.  However, now the Communist Chinese government is taking away the people's right to elect representatives and the people don't like that!

In 1898, Great Britain obtained a 99-year lease from China for the Hong Kong Territory.  The "Handover" or return of Hong Kong to China took place on July 1, 1997, and officially ended British rule in Hong Kong.

Barricades on the carriageway
People were generally pessimistic over this change, but when little changed immediately, they learned to live with it.  Protests and mass civil disobedience began in Hong Kong in protest against the Chinese government's decision on proposed electoral reform for the upcoming 2017 Hong Kong Chief Executive election.

This is the Reader's Digest version of events:  Instead of allowing Civil nominations, the government made it clear that everything was going to be controlled by Beijing.  Now, when the people vote, the government will have already screened out any pro-democracy candidate.

It doesn't look crowded now, but there were tens of thousands here protesting two weeks ago

The protests began at the end of September when the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism began protesting outside the government headquarters.

Soon, tens of thousands of people were taking to the streets in protest.  (An opinion poll shows that the majority of citizens (59%) surveyed since October 4th support the protesters.) This is what it looked like on September 26th:

- Photo:  Forbes
 A large police force was mobilized to surround the square.  At first they let people leave voluntarily.  Then things began to get out of hand.  You can read more about it here:

My friend and former co-worker, Jonathan, writes: "I am living in history.  Hope you enjoy the photos."

Wow.  Yes.  We do.

There is still hope in the atmosphere
The Umbrella has become the symbol of the protest.  As Jonathan explains it, the people used umbrellas for protection against pepper sprays and tear gas from police during the height of the protests.

Here is a colorful wall in an area of Hong Kong called Central.  People write down notes about how they feel and stick them on the wall.

"We don't know how long we could keep this wall" the sign says.
Then in an allusion to Marvel's Hydra: "Cut One Head Off Grow Two Heads."
There are thousands of these notes on the walls in this area!

"We are not alone" the sign reads

The stated goals of the movement are simple:
  1. Universal suffrage
  2. The resignation of the Chief Executive Cy Leung
  3. The withdrawal of the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (the Communist government's ruling body)
  4. The submission of a new electoral reform plan that includes civil nomination of Hong Kong's Chief Executive

It kinda makes you want to go home and hug your November election ballot brochure, doesn't it? Being able to run for office, and to vote for your elected officials, are Rights we often take for granted in the States.

"No," Jonathan writes of the photo below, "These folks aren't homeless.  They are just resting during the day so they can be awake at night to continue the demonstration."

Booths popped up blocking the main carriageway in Central as a focal point of the protest.

Booths along the carriageway
We have yet to see how this whole thing is going to unfold.  According to various sources, Hong Kong is facing various economic challenges, as well as these political ones.  The student leaders and the government were expected to start formal talks, however on October 9th, the government cancelled the meeting that had been scheduled.  So, protesters took to the streets again over the weekend.

Umbrella Man Statue in Central, Hong Kong
This (below) was taken in the mid-afternoon on a weekday when most people were at work, but you can see that even after a few weeks, the protest still has some momentum.

View from the footbridge
As I read about the problems in Hong Kong, I was forced to ask myself: How much do I value my Citizenship?  How much do I value my right to vote?  How much to I value the freedoms of the republic I live in?

Would I take to the streets to protest a wrong?  Would you?

I'm going to keep watching the international news media for more information about Hong Kong!  I hope the people will continue to be able to make their voices heard.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I Am Jack

Hi, I am Jack

My mom takes lots of photos of me
She thinks I am adorable

I have lots of toys, but I like playing with shoes

Did I mention I like posing for the camera?

Photo shoots are tiring.

Have a great weekend, Everyone!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Magical Shanghai

My friend Jeff has been sent to Shanghai on a work assignment for a few months.  He has graciously let me borrow some of his photos!  (Thanks for sharing, Jeff!)

Shanghai is the largest Chinese city by population, and also the largest city by population - more than 24 million as of 2013 -  in the entire world!

The Pearl TV Tower by night
Shanghai is a global financial center and a transportation hub.  The world's busiest container port is in the Shanghai harbor.

Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River in East China.  It has been a center for trade and shipping for 2,000 years!

National Day is one of only seven official public holidays in the Chinese year.  It is held for three days, from October 1st through the 3rd.  Jeff arrived just in time to see it.  Here we have a crowded pedestrian-only street during "National Day" in Shanghai:
Nanjing Road
The amount of people in the streets is mind-boggling.  Jeff also said the fireworks display was incredible and seemed to go on forever.

National Day celebration on Nanjing Road
The British, French, Americans and Japanese have all had their influence on Shanghai's development into one of the world's most modern and sophisticated cities.
Shanghai's Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong Park
The Pearl Tower (above) is 1,536 feet high, making it the world's sixth and China's second tallest TV and radio tower.  Visitors can travel up and down the tower in double-decker elevators that can hold up to fifty people and move at the rate of seven meters per second.

According the the Travel China Guide website:
The inner tower is a recreational palace, while the Shanghai Municipal History Museum is located in the tower's pedestal. The large lower sphere has a futuristic space city and a fabulous sightseeing hall. From here, on a clear day a visitor can see all the way to the Yangtze River. The base of the tower is home to a science fantasy city. The five smaller spheres are a hotel that contains twenty-five elegant rooms and lounges. The pearl at the very top contains shops, restaurants, (including a rotating restaurant) and a sightseeing floor. The view of Shanghai from this height fills you with wonder at the beauty that surrounds you. When viewed from the Bund at night, the tower's three-dimensional lighting makes it a delight of brilliant color.
As mentioned, it's not far from the Bund, the 1,500 meter-long promenade along the waterfront which has both modern and historic buildings (below).  The Bund consists of 19th century colonial buildings built by the British after the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842.  For years this area was considered Shanghai's richest and most prosperous section and earned the nickname, the "Wall Street of Asia".

Buildings along the Bund - on the far left you see Shanghai's Pudong Development Bank and Customs House
On the far left in the photo above, you can see Shanghai's Pudong Development Bank and Customs House.  The buildings in the middle and to the right are old colonial buildings and represent some of the oldest and most historic buildings in the Bund.

It's been fun reading about this intriguing city!  I'm looking forward to more posts and interesting photos from Jeff in the future.  I hope you are too!