Friday, March 29, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lions and Tigers and No Bears

Rats, I took off to go hunting bear in Yellowstone on my first springtime visit to the park, and there were no bears to be seen.

I know they were there, but not where I was at that moment.

Yellowstone is one of my favorite places in the world, and I try to go as often as I can throughout the year. It was the reason that I came to visit Montana in the first place. It also is the reason I am still hanging around. I have been stalking the animals with a Nikon for a few trips and even talked my mom out of her 200 lens the last time she was here visiting. Do not worry, she got a 300 lens, so she is not out a lens.

The magic of Yellowstone could be the subject of a million posts for me, but today, it is just about the no bears situation that I discovered. Since I am not terribly patient, therefore, not a professional photographer, I must take my photos as I can get them.

My BINGO card of animals in Yellowstone is almost filled. I have not seen a black bear or a swan, but all the rest I have managed to catch a fleeting glimpse of, and it is an extensive list. Here is the mammal list if anyone is interested.

I specifically went in with the intention of spotting the grizzlies, bluebirds, wolves and swans. I was 25 percent successful.

The wolves were on the prowl, and we saw them in a variety of areas. This was the first time that I have seen them wandering about.

yellowstone wolf

yellowstone wolf

yellowstone wolf

The wolves were from one end of Lamar Valley to the other.

We stopped at one point to give Blu a drink and when I got out of the truck, I heard this mournful cry. It was a single wolf howling and I am sure that it meant something to the other wolves. To me, it meant that they were near enough that I would be able to get some photos. This was before we saw them.

The bottom photo is in the same area as we heard the howl. He just got out of the water after jumping in and splashing around. He is a dog after all.

The bonus on our trip, was the baby big horn sheep that were learning to climb rocks. I do not know how many of these guys there were, but they were all over the rocks. They just happened to blend into the rocks making it difficult to see them. This was taken at the North Entrance area by Gardiner, MT.



It was a cold, but clear day in the park. This is looking towards Beartooth Range right outside of Red Lodge, MT. You can see the bison grazing on the meadow in the lower left portion of the photo.


I did not get a great many photos, but I enjoyed myself, and now I am packing to go back down soon. There are bears to take photos of!


Julie and Blu

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

It is the color of money, the sign of growth and a sage is a wise one.

Green is harmony and balance. It is renewal and freshness. It gives hope to the spring and peace to the people. It is security and trust. It offers youthfulness and joy.

It is the symbol of baptism and the Eucharist in Christianity.  It is respect in Islam. It is Ireland and tea. It is disgrace in China and symbolizes corruption in North Africa.

It is eternal life in Japan.


It is natural and used to create authentic designs. Earthy and true to the planet it represents. It is attractive and the most relaxing color to the eye. It has a very broad spectrum range, which means that many men are colorblind to green. However, that does not stop men from choosing the darker greens as their color. The British racing green or forest greens will be found in men’s dens or libraries. It is associated with men’s clubs, such as the smoking rooms in Victorian time. Dark mahogany and dark green simply go together to create a masculine atmosphere.

Green is derived from yellow and blue. The color can range from a lively lime green of Kermit the Frog fame to the official green color used by the military for their uniforms and camouflage. This does not count the institution green of the prisons or medical facilities of the 50s.

Cave paintings did not utilize green, but the color was used to dye garments, so they had access to green pigments through leaves and plants. Egyptian artists began using green in their tomb paintings by crushing malachite into a paste.

King Tut had a paintbox of his own that contained green paint from malachite. They did do a little paint mixing by using ochre and azurite to create a green. The clever ones dyed clothing yellow first by using saffron before redying it with the roots of the woad plant, which created a blue dye. Clever ladies, very clever.

Because the Egyptians considered green to be a positive color, many of their jewelry contained malachite.

The Romans associate green with Venus since she was the goddess of vegetables and gardens. They created their green paint by soaking copper in fermenting wine. Can we say patina?

Merchants wore green during the Middle Ages. This was a status symbol for those who were businessmen and bankers. Mona Lisa is dressed in green. She obviously came from a prosperous background.

As more people discovered ways to create green dyes, the use of green in paintings became more popular. Though it was normally used to create natural scenes, Whistler created a stir when he used green as a central element in his paintings from an emotional standpoint.

Any fairy, dragon or troll worth their salt is green.

Green is used in design to represent youth and regeneration. It is a positive color that brings energy into a design. It can be used to signify cleanliness and earthiness. It is a grounded and solid color. It can be used alone or paired with other contrasting colors. Green combined with yellow works very well to bring a brightness and energy to a design.

The teal and blue greens relate more to the water and enjoy a coolness. They have movement and gentle energy.

A dark green is solid and secure. It makes a great cornerstone for a design and holds a piece together.

Green paired with its complimentary red give us Christmas and the beautiful poinsettia.

Just like the grass that surrounds us and grounds us, the use of green in a design will solidify and hold a design together.

These creative souls have found the perfect use for greens in their designs. Please enjoy them.


Green Leaf Man Herbal Handmade Soap Oval made with Mango Butter


Green and Blue Aventurine Cluster Bangle Bracelet, Silver Plated Wire


    Silk Batik Art Painting, 'Abstract' by Musa


    Swarovski Crystal Glass Bali-Style Spacers Pewter Charm Necklace


    Pink and Yellow Flower Earrings Polymer Clay with Swarovski Crystals


    Colourful Holiday Balls Hand Painted Silk Scarf


    Mistletoe Scented Round Pillar Candle - Green Color Handmade


      Green and White Checked Reversible Gingham Large Placemats 17x20"


      Aqua Terra Jasper Necklace and Earring Set


      Green Shamrock Carved Wood Bowl #93


      Peacock Green and Silver Hand Beaded Geneva Soutache Watch


      5 Gift Tags - Kittens Cats Dressed in Clothes - Upcycled Vintage Easter Book


      Blue Green Black Lampwork Swarovski Peridot and Turquoise Bracelet


      Blue Aventurine and Green Chrysocolla Gemstone Necklace


      Wire wrapped peas in a pod green wire four glass pearl earrings


      Mint Green and Black Lace Women's Gypsy Sweater Coat


      Hunter Green Ladies Embroidered Sweatshirt Jacket. Sizes S - XL.


      Free-Form Fused Glass Pendant and Earrings with Dichroic Accents


      Quartz, Glass Beads and Silver Filigree Anklet, Green


      Gold tassel necklace large dark green faceted oval crystal bead


      Green and Silver Beaded Interchangeable Watch Band


      19" Afghanistan Apple Green Jade Graduated Necklace


      Red and Green Fused Glass Star Christmas Ornament, Handmade


        Malachite Green Swarovski Gemstone Earrings Handmade One of a Kind


        White Flower, Green, Wood Tile Necklace


        John Deere 317 Garden Tractor and 49 Snowblower Handcrafted Birch Wood


        Emerald Lampwork Bead Etched Handmade Glass Focal Wrapped In Silver


        Opaque Green Bracelet


        Boho chic wool felted necklace adjustable suede cord


        Antique Hetian Jade Hand Carved Pendant and Beads on Handmade Chain


        Painted Flower Bead Earrings, Green Leaf Glass Dangles, Earthy, Kanji


        As you can see, there are many ways to incorporate green into design and art. These artists have a lot more to offer. You can see additional offerings from this group of artists here. Mother's Day Countdown Week 6

        Julie and Blu

        Tuesday, March 26, 2013

        Guns and Roses

        This is not a love story.

        One Sarah Pardee married one William Winchester in 1862. From there, the whole thing unravels. 
        The Winchesters only had one child, and that child did not live long. The entire Winchester fortune was attributed to Mr. Winchester’s father’s business. Winchester Repeating Arms Company gave us the repeating rifle. This company had a tangled affair with the Henry Rifle, Smith & Wesson and a variety of other arms manufacturers during the 1800s. The manufacturing and designs were all entwined with each other and several law suits and civil fights ensued. The end result was the Winchester Rifle, regardless of how it came about. Since this story is about Sarah, we will skip over the Henry and Winchester fight. Suffice it to say, the Winchester was active in all the wars that required arms and is known as the “Gun that Won the West”.

        Sarah dropped into a deep depression after the loss of her child and after only 19 years of marriage, she was a widow. She was alone. Her father-in-law died the year before her husband. She had an expense account of $22,000 a day by 2008’s standards. Her inheritance amounted to 50 percent of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. This is where it went badly for Sarah.

        Sarah was so lost that she began to give way to her deepest fears. She was so afraid that the family had been cursed by the history of the rifle, that she began to make some terrible choices. She consulted spiritualists in Boston who told her that she was being haunted by those that had fallen from the Winchester. She was told to move west and build a house that never ended. The only way that she could escape her tormenters was to build and to continue to build. If she stopped building, she would die.

        She bought a home in San Jose and started building. She added rooms with one door, she put doors on the outside of the second story, she built narrow steps and steep stairs. She just kept building. She had no plans other than to trap spirits and confuse them. Her hallways go nowhere, her doors open to walls and her staircases ended at walls. Since her only objective was to build, then just build. There did not need to be a plan. She was obsessed with the number 13, and it figures throughout the house. Amazingly, she lived there until the earthquake of 1906 where the home was damaged and she was trapped in her bedroom for a bit. She believed the earthquake was unhappy spirits that were trying to get her to stop decorating and keep building.

        The earthquake drove her out of the house until repairs could be made. The front foyer is still not repaired. She continued to build for 38 years. The construction stopped on the house when she died in her sleep at the age of 83.

        Now, Sarah is a sad tale, however, Sarah had a garden.

        Her obsession with the house translated into a magnificent garden and grounds surrounding the house. There are rose bushes there today that were her original rose bushes. She brought in exotic flowers and trees. She built gazebos to sit in the garden. She designed the garden with the Victorian mindset, which includes topiaries and bronze statues.
        She kept plants that were used for medicinal use – much like today’s California plants for medicinal use – her persimmons and peonies were for headaches and upset stomachs. She used her roses for eye lotions. The home still has the original English yew tree by the garage and the elm tree in the back of the home.

        She loved her daisies and the gardens are filled with daisies.

        She built fountains to placate spirits. She has four fountains on the property. She built statues to also appease the spirits. Her Chief Little Fawn is the statue she created in hopes of appeasing the spirits of all the Native Americans that were gunned down by her guns. Chief Little Fawn died trying to protect his home.

        She also had a water tower, her own little community within the home, a large orchard, luxury vehicles and a large group of buildings on the grounds.

        She is a sad tale, but she left a huge legacy of oddities and collections for the rest of us to gawk over. Her magnificent gardens are well tended, and her home has become a tourist attraction. She left her home and the belongings to her niece who raided the place of much of the furnishings. The belongings have been scattered to the winds, so we may never know what Sarah truly owned.
        Her home is now known as Winchester Mystery House and is open to the public.

        The following photos are all c jcleveland from a collection of photos that I took when I toured the home.

        Sarah Winchester's Home

        This is from the side gate of Sarah’s home.

        Winchester Gun Collection at Sarah Winchester's Home

        Like it or not Sarah, this display shows the Gun that Won the West

        Sarah Winchester Glass Panels

        Sarah’s beloved daisies in amazing glass panels. This is the front door way.

        Sarah Winchester's Bed

        I am thinking that is not a restful place to sleep.
        This bedroom still has damage from the 1906 earthquake. It was never repaired.

        Sarah Winchester 1906 earthquake damage

        Doors to nowhere, stairs to nowhere and other oddities.

        The trip to the Winchester home was only one stop in the “As Seen on TV” Tour of 2008. I saw the Travel Channel special on the home and put it on my list of places to go if I ever get to California. Here is the link to the original episode. You may be able to see this on Hulu or Netflix.
        Book your tour here

        Oh, and if you want to see Tiffany

        tiffany glass Sarah Winchester's home

        I will apologize for the clarity and condition of the photos. This was not an easy place to shoot. There were many dark winding areas that did not offer much light for a good photo. The gardens are beautiful though and enjoy the ones I did manage to get.


        Sarah’s roses.


        A view from the top.

        Enjoy the tour
        Julie and Blu

        Friday, March 22, 2013

        Thursday, March 21, 2013

        Northern Exposure, Cicely and Roslyn

        For five years, the residents of Cicely, Alaska entertained us with life on the frontier. The Northern Exposure series ran from 90-95, and it was filled with great characters and a sense of belonging.

        The whole story surrounded a budding young New York doctor, Joel Fleishman, who managed to secure a position in the Alaskan wilderness. While he may have been working towards a townhouse in Manhattan, he ended up in a cabin in the woods. The series revolves around his reluctant acceptance of life in the wilderness.

        The series begat actors like John Corbett, who was the voice of KBHR (K-Bear), the local radio station. His voice is widely known in advertising. He currently is doing the voice over for Walgreens and has been the voice of many car companies. He did a stint on Sex and the City as one of Carrie’s boyfriends. John Corbett played Chris Stevens, an earthy, well-read esoteric character.

        Rob Morrow played Fleishman, and he did a great job. He was a character that grew on you as he changed. Morrow did a great job of getting you to love the character and him. He has gone on to an off and on career and was the lead character in Game Show.

        Janine Turner played the amazing Maggie McConnell, a pilot. She spent most of the series addressing Fleishman with disdain.

        The entire cast was wonderful and loveable. The plots read like a soap opera series, and the show was designed to watch back to back.

        We loved the show when it came out and A&E has been the only station that has run the series as a rerun.

        When Barnes & Nobel offered their membership cards, I debated on whether or not to get one. The deciding factor was that I could get the entire Northern Exposure series for a great price, plus, if I ordered online, I could get another 15 percent off. I ended up with almost 40 percent off the entire series and we sat right now and began to watch it as soon as it came in.


        It took us almost a year and a half to watch the entire series again. We watched it in order and it was like spending time with old friends.

        In fact, we decided that we were going to go and have a beer at The Brick.

        The series was shot in Roslyn, Washington, and it was a stop along the way on our Ring of Fire Tour 2009. The town is very far out of the way, and it is still the same as the set left it. When we first got there, you could imagine all the characters coming to life and walking along the streets.

        There are a few shops that are memorabilia and gift shops. Fleishman’s doctor’s office is a gift shop of some sorts. The museum carries movie props and the history of the town. You can stop by the homes of the characters and have a beer at the bar.

        The pizza joint is jumping and KBHR is right on the street. It is as if you could look into the window and wave to Chris Stevens.

        It was a great little side trip and one I will always remember.

        If you are a fan and in Washington, stop by The Brick and have a beer. It may look different than the show, but it is The Brick.

        I took these shots downtown and around.

        Day 3 09 Roslyn 008


        Day 3 09 Roslyn 012

        Day 3 09 Roslyn 016

        Day 3 09 Roslyn 024


        If you are a fan, enjoy these photos. If you are a fan looking for a cool vacation stop, go and visit Roslyn, Washington.

        Those true fans will be humming the theme song as they walk through the town, and who does not get a tear in their eye when they hear Iris Dement sing Our Town.

        Julie and Blu