Sunday, November 29, 2015


For the past several years I have gone to my niece's for Thanksgiving. Martha Stewart has nothing on  her since since she is a fabulous hostess.  Her table is always a delight to see and it is different every year.

The fresh flower arrangement made by her is also original every year.  Check out the real turkey feathers in this one, with coral colored roses, cream Alstroemeria and baby flowering kale in a white ceramic pumpkin. She favors white serving dishes and table ware.

I took the picture before she lit the candles (and we messed it up with eating) and the little pumpkins on each plate were lit up with LED lights.
Her menu was also delicious, and again (other than the turkey) is a surprise each year.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and now on to the Christmas season.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Africa, Part 4

I apologize for the quality of some of these pictures, but at least I can prove that I was there. Some of the shots look like they have had a filter put on them in Photoshop Elements, but that's not the case.  As I mentioned before, I bought this new iPhone 6 specifically for the trip, but I am very disappointed.

We went to three different games parks and one elephant preserve. The pictures are not necessarily  in order, but I'm just given you an overview. I took well over 700 pictures.

Ruthie and I out for our game drive.  This must have been in the early morning because we have long sleeves and pants on.  By the time we returned at 9 AM it was very hot.

Cape Buffalo, one of the "Big Five".  We saw lots and lots of these. Did you know that a group of them is called an Obstinancy?  Well, neither did we, but we learned a few of the collective names for different animals.
The other animals in the Big Five, so named by hunters for the difficulty in hunting and degree of danger involved, are the African lion, the African leopard, the elephant and the black rhino.  We saw them all, except for the elusive leopard.

We also saw lots of elephants, but this was one of my favorite moments. This herd was traveling along in a row, as they are wont to do.  See the little baby near the front?  See the next picture for what happened next.

Along came a big baboon and the herd all surrounded the baby to keep him safe.  One very large elephant at the rear (you can't see him here) raised his trunk in a threatening way several times to chase the baboon away. When he left, they continued in line as they had been before.

The Warthogs were all over, as common as dogs.  This family was about five feet away from my patio in one of the lodges where we stayed. The mother kept walking along and munching grass while the babies were trying to nurse.They are so ugly that they are cute.

We visited an Elephant sanctuary where orphaned elephants are being raised.  They were quite tame and we could pet them and scratch their trunks, and we did. We also fed them, but no pictures of that. 

They also had an orphaned cheetah.  He was also relatively tame and we all got to pet him.

At the same sanctuary we were able to walk quite close the herd at the watering hole.  They seemed very unfazed by us.

Victoria Falls.  The water level is low, according to our guides because of the drought, but we still thought it was very impressive.  This was just one of several views.

One of several ostrich that we saw.  I hope I didn't eat his brother,but he sure was tasty, and no it doesn't take like chicken, but rather like beef filet.

At one point when we stopped on the road to watch a herd of the big gray guys, they came so close to our vehicle that I almost could have reached out and touched one.

Here you can see the other vehicle near us and how very close he was.  I'm sure he could have tipped it over if he wanted to but they are not bothered by us because they have never been shot at. 
We would stop half way thru the drive to get to and stretch our legs in an obviously safe place and get some refreshment, tea or coffee and biscuits in the morning drive and wine and tidbits in the evening drive. Very civilized, I thought.

You really have to look hard to see the ONLY lion that we saw on all three of the  game parks.  Here's where a good zoom lens would have helped.

We saw many dazzles (another collective noun) of zebras.

I never got tired of seeing the giraffes.  Their group name is Tower.

I forgot what these were called because there were so many different kinds of deer-like animals, all beautiful.

Another refreshment stop and one of the few pictures I have of Mickie, our third travel companion.  She always seemed to be somewhere else when the pictures were being taken.

Now here's something that would delight any six year old boy. When the hippo defecates, he swishes his tail back and forth very quickly and sprays it all around.  There was a communal "Yeww" from the crowd on the boat.  We did take one safari cruise to see the animals in the water and those coming down to the water to drink.

Another instance where you have to look hard to see the cheetah, so nicely camouflaged.

This picture was one of my big disappointments.  I took so many shots of this mama rhino and her baby and they all came out smudgy, but you get the idea. 

This handsome croc was sunning himself right next to the road.

This was taken on the safari cruise that I mentioned before.

Give me a few more days and I'll wrap up the trip and show you some of our accommodations and a few other things.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Africa, part 3

Our tour next took us to Cape Point on the southwest tip of Africa. We took a tram car to the Cape of Good Hope, where our group photo was taken. We had never travelled with Collette Tours before and one of the good things about them was the small size of our group, only 15.  On other tours that we had taken like Tauck, Vantage and Viking, there are usually around 38.

My sister is at the far left in the turquoise jacket and I'm in the middle in white. It's hard to believe that it was cool enough for a light weight down jacket because later in the trip, when we were on safaris they were having an unusual heat wave and it was way over 100.  I don't do well with hot.  And I learned a new term from Thabie....she said it was cookin' hot.

The scenery looking down was spectacular.

We also visited Bouder Beach to see the adorable penguins.  The African penguins are quite small, just about two feet high.  They were so amusing, as penguins tend to be with their waddling walk.  We were not allowed on the beach where thy lived, but viewed them from a boardwalk which afforded us very close up views.  There were a LOT of penguins, I only show a very few here.

We also traveled to the charming village of Stellenbosch and visited a local winery for a tasting and a delicious lunch outside on the patio.  South Africa is known for its wines, especially white wines and we enjoyed them throughout the trip.

Our very delicious lunch served on a board with many jars of treats, one board to each guest.  The biggest jar held a yummy beet and green salad with goat cheese and the smaller jars held various jars of humus, liver pate, tarts and such with cheese and meats and a wonderful sourdough bread to pass.  I thought it was a unique way to serve.

I loved seeing the wildflowers.  The King Protea is their national flower and many varieties of Protea grew all along the road side.  What might cost as much as twelve or more dollars apiece here in the US were free for the picking.

Pincushion Protea, the most common found in the area we were traveling.

Huge shrubs grew all along the roadside.
We also made a short visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens . The setting was incredible with  the mountains in the background,

This is the King Protea, the national flower. You can see how large it is by the arm holding it steady.

Please come back for what you really want to see.....the animals!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Out of Africa

I've been plowing thru my pictures to find some that are good enough.  I bought a new iphone 6 for the trip.  I had always taken pretty good pix with my 5, but heard that the six was supposed to be so much better.  I'm not so sure. I got some good shots, but some were very blurry. I probably should have bought a real camera for the trip, but didn't want the hassle of lugging it around.  A couple of the men in our group had lenses as long as your arm and their pictures were incredible, of course. Oh, well, live and learn.

On the first five days of our tour we were not on safari, but rather were sight seeing in Cape Town and surrounding areas.

We took a cable car to the top of Table Mountain.  It is on the list of the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World, a fact of which the Africans are very proud.

We had panoramic views of Cape Town below.

We passed through the Moorish Maly Quarter of Cape Town with its fantastically colored homes, a color lover's dream.  Each resident can choose any color they want and the choices were amazing.  This area covers several blocks.  The next evening we had a home-hosted dinner in one of them, painted a luscious shade of raspberry.

We went to an African Restaurant for dinner one night and took part in a drumming lesson.  It was a lot of fun, but there was no way to take pictures and drum at the same time. Then we partook of a delicious meal with many different African specialties. Our beautiful servers all had their faces painted with traditional designs and offered to paint ours, too.  Of course we said, yes, but somehow it didn't translate onto old wrinkled faces as it did on their smooth young  skin.

This is our bus driver, Moses, and our tour guide, Thabie, who was with us throughout the trip.  She was so cute with her many-braided hairdo.  She often wrapped it up in colorful scarves and I'll show that in a later post. As you can see, they had their faces painted, too.

Come back and Ill share some more.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Guess where I've been...

No, that certainly is not Connecticut.  I just returned yesterday from a fabulous two week tour of South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. I took a lot of pictures and altho I wan't pleased with the quality of a lot of them, I will share some with you as soon as I get my act together.  It always takes me awhile to get back in the groove after a long trip and a long plane ride, 17 1/2 hours non stop. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Houston, Part 5

One of the cool things about the Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts is their artist in residence program.  Lat year we spent a lot of time talking to the artists and I neglected to take any pictures, so this year I made sure that I did.  They were all charming and very willing to talk about their work.  There was another artist that we missed because she must have been out to lunch.

Julie Gabriel and her handmade purses, mostly leather.

Wen-Dan Lin who made extruded clay structures.

Younha Jung, who was too shy to pose for me, made wearable modern jewelry.

Gary Schott, who made mechanical motion toys and structures.