Monday, March 28, 2011

Coming to a Theater Near You.... "African Cats"

I'm a big movie fan, but tend to shy away from Nature Films because I usually find them too emotional to watch sometimes - I was the kid whose dad made her stop watching "Lassie" because it would make me cry every week.

However just seeing the trailer for this film and some of the stills, I know I want to see it.

Did I mention I had a cat named, Cheetah? ha, ha
As a young child I wanted to live in Africa and work in a Game Park.

"Born Free" was one of my favorite movies growing up. (Yes, I cried horribly during it, but I really wanted to work with "the big cats". I think that movie has tied with "Sound of Music" and "Gone with the Wind" for most viewings by me!)

My youngest brother got married in South Africa when I was 19 and I was fortunate to be able to travel there with my parents.

After the wedding, my mother and father and I toured around (on the otherside of the road!) and visited two game parks! As well as other spectacular and adventurous destinations - that's another story...
It was a dream  come true for anyone, especially an animal lover.

Watching elephants bathe in a river. A male lion waking up with a signature roar.  Having the crackers I was feeding some birds snatched from my hands from a baboon.  It was the trip of a lifetime thanks to my parents. (and my brother since he provided the incentive to go there)

"African Cats", by Disneynature will premiere on Earth Day, April 22, 2011 and I may just go that first night! My only regret is that I won't be watching it with my mother or father because this is truly a movie for anyone and everyone and they would have loved seeing the beautiful animals and sights we saw in South Africa in 1979.

For those who haven't see the trailer, here is a snippet:

Hoping to link to Angela's Tuesday's Show and Tail! Thanks Angela!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Feet Ain't Pretty.....

So, I went last night (Friday) to get a pedicure so my toes would look kinda nice for a wedding I will be attending next weekend.  It's a beach-themed wedding so I figured I would be wearing sandals or open-toed shoes and hey, we're in Florida, we wear them year-round practically.

I picked a subtle shade and enjoyed the feet-pampering at the wonderful place that I go to for such things, when I do.

It wasn't the salon's fault.

My mother always told me to wear slippers or shoes in the house when I was growing up and now I know why:

I can usually navigate around my house with my eyes closed or in pitch darkness, but apparently can't sit at my dining room table without wonking my toe on one of the chairs.

We should always listen to our mothers.

So, now I'm thinking a nice plum color for the dress to match, because  I'm still wearing the sandals!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Make a Bed With a Panda In It

Participating in Chania's Friday Photo Challenge over at  RAZMATAZ.  This week's challenge was to photograph our pets, or someone else's in an artistic or unique way.

I know. Right up my alley. At least the pet part is.

Every morning I must go through a frustrating bed-making ritual. The bed and bedclothes are quite cooperative, but there is a hound that resides here who is old, grouchy and thinks it's her bed and therefore I must make the bed around her.

Thus, How To Make a Bed With a Panda In It:

(Panda is our Boston's name for those not familiar)

That's not a smile, it's a lifting of the lip as a snore escapes.

Ah, finally. An action shot. Bed's made!

Trying to go back to sleep here...


She's gotten so gray. Everywhere!  I love her gray eyelashes in the above picture.

8am, it's already been an exhausting day.

Thanks Chania!

Oh wait. Yes, to those worried about the jealous-take my picture too-I'm not gray, Sadie.  She was right there angling for a shot the whole time:

And they do make me laugh!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ok, Miss Darcy, Let's Talk About What Really Happened Here During Spring Break!

As you know The Maven and Miss Darcy were here for about a week during their spring break.  At times Miss Darcy's brother, Meeko, was with us as well.

Look at the serene innocence portrayed in this photo!

Well, I know we don't live at the beach, but somehow this house became Spring Break Party Central "Darcy Style".  I'm surprised Bad Blair (our favourite Canadian Kitteh!),  didn't show up!

You can read about Darcy's "version"  right here, if you have the nerve to click! 

But, truth be told, this is what really happened...

Oh, sure, the faces were innocent:


But their blatant takeover  of the Boston household was anything but innocent, it was a reign of terror:

It started with the poor, innocent Bostons' sacred Domain.

Litter boxes, cat carriers, and OMG - a cat tree! The horror!

And spread throughout the house.  Even to MY SPACE:

"Heh, heh, heh, Meeko.  See?  I told you it would be easy."

Just look at how Mr. Meeko is sitting on The Boston Lady's chair AND intimidating sweet Sadie! Shocking!

And then, the ultimate insult:  the takeover of MY desk!

Now! Make your move! We will surround my unsuspecting MeeMaw!

They obviously let their spring break status go straight to their heads!

"We" were not amused.  In fact "we" were annoyed:

Bumby assessing the situation and ensuing chaos... I actually think she is working a secret incantation to get rid of them.  "Shazaam! Begone Kittehs!"

We had to kick Meeko out (okay, he went home with his mom - but hey, I'm going for the dramatic here) and things started getting a little blurry and a little crazy:

Meeko?  Meeko? Come on! This is our time to dominate!

Reality sets in: Miss Darcy starting to freak out because her "partner in crime" has fled the scene.

But did that stop her? Bwahahahahahaha..... No!

Mayhem ensued as The Maven included Darcy in her birthday celebrations at Boston Manor (warning - we are a rowdy bunch here and some readers may be offended by the ensuing "celebrations") :

Oh Yeah! Pink bag! It doesn't get better than this!!

I can do anything I want at Meemaw and Pop-Pop's!  I can throw my toys wherever I want!  It's spring break! Yeehaw!

Meanwhile, "Pop-Pop" and Sadie take refuge:
Our lives are exciting enough without THAT Darcy adding to it!

Panda collapses in utter exhaustion - in Darcy's bed! Oh the indignity and the horror!

"Please, please, just let it be over..."

And Susie. Just where were you Susie during all of this debauchery?

So, she got to you too..... this picture needs no explanation.

No wonder Miss Darcy looks so happy and smug:

We are all obviously under her control...

Uh Oh, summer is in a couple of months.  I need to start preparing NOW!

Boston Lady out!

And if you have time, take a look at my previous post about my very interesting and adventurous "little" brother.  Yesterday was his birthday!

Ok, so now, really, Boston Lady out!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Brother, The Wizard of Oz

Australia, actually...
My brother, Mark at about 15 yrs old - the future adventurer.

All my conscious life my younger brother has been off on one adventure or another. (I say younger because he is only 12 years older, rather than the14 years older Richard is than me, the baby of the family, so I've always considered him my "little brother" if you will)

Mark holding his 2 month old baby sister - Me! In Montreal.

The Hughes Dynasty in 1988, Mark on left, Richard behind and me, pregnant with The Maven.

It started with college, where he majored in Geology, and from there his life was one Indiana Jones scenario after another.  At least that's how it seemed to me.

Wyoming, Alaska, Australia, The Yukon and Northwest Territories, South Africa, Montana, Botswana and back to Australia.  In no particular order these are the places my brother, Mark, has studied, lived and worked.  I'm sure I've  missed a few.
Before the internet and cell phones we kept up with his travels via pictures, letters and the most coveted thing of all, audio tapes.
We would sit around our kitchen table listening to Mark's tapings, usually made in his little tent or the front seat of his jeep, and were transported by his apt descriptions and anecdotes.  It was almost like having him home where we always sat for hours after dinners listening to where he had been and what he had been up to.  He probably doesn't even realize the impression that made on a young girl, but I thought he was the coolest person on the face of the earth.

Okay, so even Indiana Jones can't pull off a Santa hat. Brandon, FL 1993.

Hughes clan in 1999. Largo, FL. Mark, Mother, Richard, Ann, Dick.

He has been living in Australia for 30 years now.

Mark and his oldest son, Chad. Not sure of the date on this one.

Mark and his youngest son, Scott.
Somewhere in Oz and trying to guess Scotty's age I would say 1around 1986.

  He and his family have been back to the states now and then for visits and my parents were fortunate enough to make several trips Down Under and take in the unique beauty of that country.

Ah, the old "photographer takes a picture of the other photographer shot".
Our parents somewhere in Oz and very happy.

Mark has obviously forced our mother into the outback and is insisting she perform some dangerous stunt.

Mark and our dad, Dick watching a surfer.  Wait a minute, that's not our mother is it?  Mark how could you?!

Grandpa "Deek" walking Scotty along the beach.

 I think out of all the trips my mother and father took, those were their favorites because they got to share a bit of Mark's life, his family and his love of adventure.

Mark trying to make up to our mother for forcing her into those earlier stunts.  She looks absolutely content though, doesn't she? The adventurous life seemed to appeal to her afterall.

An older Mr. Scott listening to his tunes.

Chad obviously trying to further Grandma's Aussie experience by making her eat someting suspicious.

March 21 is Mark's birthday and I wanted to give him a birthday shout out by posting about his most recent adventure that he shared with me and Richard through pictures and a typically descriptive letter that accompanied them.

So here goes: 
My Brother's Adventure Crossing The Simpson Desert.

Most of the words will be his, pictures are his, captions will be my additions.

The Simpson Desert near the junction of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland is not the biggest or the most remote desert in OZ, but it has some unique characteristics. 

It features the longest sand dunes in the world, some individual dunes are over a 100K in length.

Mr. Lizard on top of Big Red, the largest dune in The Simpson Desert. 60 metres high. This dune is at the southeastern portion of the desert, near Birdsville.  Sand is not as red and that water is to be circum-navigated.

The long dunes mean you cannot drive around them, you 've got to go over them.  And there are lots of them - we traversed of 600 in our crossing.

Mark's Mr. Lizard takes another dune, one of hundreds

 They are not very friendly dunes: approached from the west they are noot to steep except for the final few metres.  The eastern sides, however, are a different matter and are sometimes almost veritcal.  There are two implications from this asymmetrical dune system. 

Cresting a Simmo Dune

One is that a traverse from east to west is nearly impossible.  The second is that coming from the west, once you've crossed just a couple of dunes, you have commited for the whole traverse - there's no turning back!

So the Simmo (Aussie for Simpson Desert) is a bit difficult to get around in.  That's why it was the last Australian desert to be crossed.  Cecil Madigan was the who first did it in 1939.

Traversing another dune

This Adelaide-based geologist led a team of scientists (botanists, surveyors, geologists and others) to make that first crossing. They did in on camel-back and it took them 26 days.  We did it in Toyotas and it took nine days.

Australia's feral camels are said to be the healthiest in the world.

And during those nine days we saw no one... not even an airplane. 

Bearded Dragon Lizard.  He is immobile and "hiding" up this tree.

The remote nature of this journey means you've got to carry everything with you:  fuel, water, spare parts, food and enough of all of it to get you through and to cater for unexpected delays and breakdowns.

Madigan's camels didn't leave a road or track and his main legacy is the navigational co-ordinates of his nightly camps.  We wentered these co-ords into our GPS and made our way from camp to camp.

Mark's Mr. Lizard is on the left

Getting ready for dinner

Typical camp in The Simpson

  In many places are faint wheel tracks, the evidence of others doing what we did. At most of the old camps are to be found a steel post driven into the sand. 

Some of the Aboriginal communites erect these things to try to keep the feral camels out of the water-filled rock holes.

Otherwise there's vitually no sign of humanity - no rusty tin cans, no old bottles, nothing. 

Dingo!  An unconcerned observer.

 In places where old photos show nothing but red sand, the vegetation is now chest high.

Spring flowers in the Simpson Desert

And of course the birds have moved back into the desert. 

A Bee-Eater cleaning up biscuit crumbs

At no time during our trip across could we not see flocks of birds. Squadrons of brilliant coloured finches, budgies and chats were seen everyday. 

A favorite wildflower - Sturt Peas

All these brids are making the most of the flowering plants and grasses that are going to seed. Anywhere there is water standing there are pelicans, ducks and even some swans.  No wonder the only town for hundreds of miles is called Birdsville.
Dune.. Dune...Dune. - words by Mark

It was fortunate for us that it was wet.  For one thing, wet sand is much, much easier to drive over than dry sand - a very important point what with the heavily-laden vehicles.  Also the presence of standing water here and there means you can be a bit relaxed about your use of the water you must carry for day-to-day use and for emergencies. 

Morning after a desert thunderstorm. Penthouse tent seems a good idea to me!

Of course, wet also means mud and we found quite a bit of that.  Also wet means, in many places, vast tracts of flooded countryside which means lengthy diversions from planned track, which in turns means increased consumption of fuel.

Rain in the Simmo can be dangerous stuff - risk of betting bogged here.

Sandy and I travelled in Mr. Lizard, my Toyota Landcruiser.  We have a tent arrangment fixed on the roof which is an excellent spot, our penthouse.  Mr, Lizard is self-contained with food, fuel, cooking facilities and water (and the odd bottle of wine) for a few weeks of remote travel. 

The group of adventurers in front of Mr. Lizard. They carried 215 litres of Diesel fuel and 95 litres of water.  Two weeks worth of food.  Crossing took nine days.

Our companions through the Simmo were two other couples who are friends.  All very experienced outback travellers and all very handy in planning for and dealing with the myriad of things that can and do go wrong "out there".

Running repairs on Mr. Lizard - Mark is under the truck.
Not much went wrong, though. A number of easily repaired flat tyres, main on Mr. Lizard and a broken control arm on a rear axle.  So, other than a couple of show-stopping thunderstorms all went better than hoped for and smoother than planned.  But I can assure you we were happy to arrive Birdsville.

Sandy at the Birdsville Hotel and Pub

Happy Birthday Mark!  May you have many more years of adventure ahead of you!