Is that you WordPress?? How Cheeky of You!

Yesterday when I started a new draft post, these shadow words appeared:

Share five things you’re good at.”

“Who are you?” I thought to myself. “And what are you doing on my blog??”

Definitely creepy. I ignored it and went on, saving the draft.

Today I started another post and the shadow asked me this:

“Do you have a favorite place you have visited? Where is it?”

Too weird for me – queue the Twilight Zone music!

Is this happening to anyone else or have I been infiltrated??

Okay, so there used to be WordPress sponsored Prompts and Challenges, both daily and weekly that you could participate in. And I did. Here’s one from five years ago and my resulting post. Prompt was: Cheeky

Cheeky Benji

I must admit that ‘cheeky’ is not a word I use (does anyone?)  Still, for this week’s photo challenge, I give you the always adorable, and oft times cheeky, Benji.

Simple enough. Respond to post, insert their link, be featured in the photo grid.

But this seems a bit more intrusive. In fact, I’m hoping the shadowy words really are nothing more than WordPress resurrecting its prompts. (Wouldn’t it be nice if they warned you?)

So if it’s you, WordPress, it worked this time, though not as you might have imagined.

And if it’s not you, I have bigger blogging problems and need to log a case.

How about the rest of you?

~ Susanne

Washington DC – The National Mall and Memorial Parks

This was not our first trip to DC, but it was the most amount of time we spent in the city to date, exploring the monuments, memorials, and museums on the National Mall.

According to the National Park Service website, “This is where the nation comes to remember and where history is made. As America’s Front Yard, the National Mall and Memorial Parks is home to many of our country’s most iconic memorials telling the story of people and events that shaped us as a nation. Each year, millions of people come to recreate, commemorate presidential legacies, honor our veterans, and make their voices heard.”

It was wonderfully walkable. The National Mall includes a wide grassy lawn and pedestrian parkway that runs a mile from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument in the center. It also includes the marvelous museums of the Smithsonian which I’ll save for another time.

I wish all Americans could visit our nation’s capital at least once, but if you can’t, hopefully this post will give you a good taste.

I’ll start with a bird’s eye view. In the first photo you can see the Lincoln Memorial in the foreground, with the Capitol in the distance far behind the Washington Monument. The second photo shows the Tidal Basin, including Jefferson Memorial.

Pictures in the galleries can be enlarged by clicking on them.

We walked this area again and again, under sunshine and blue skies; from the Capitol to the monuments, with stops by the wonderful art galleries and museums.

I’ll share the monuments and memorials in the order in which we found them on our first day’s walk around the National Mall.

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument honors George Washington, hero of the American Revolution and first president of the United States. When this stunning obelisk was completed in 1884, it was the tallest building in the world.” National Park Service

Lincoln Memorial

“In this temple…as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.”

Beneath these words, the 16th president of the United States sits immortalized in marble as an enduring symbol of unity, strength, and wisdom. Here a grateful nation honors a martyred president who guided the country through civil war and freed 4 million enslaved persons.” National Park Service website

Even the steps of the Lincoln Memorial are historic. It was here that Marian Anderson performed in 1939 after being denied the right to sing at Constitution Hall, and where Martin Luther King gave his speech, ‘I Have a Dream.’

Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the most important and inspirational leaders of the modern civil rights movement, Dr. King’s memorial was established more than 50 years after his death. The man and his statue are indeed larger than life.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“President Bill Clinton dedicated the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Memorial on May 2, 1997. Different from the previous presidential memorials, the FDR Memorial uses elements of stone, water, and landscaping to tell the story of FDR’s presidency in a more approachable way. Quotes are at eye level and the statues are at or close to ground level and were meant to be touched. The memorial consists of five outdoor rooms- one as a prologue and four for the unprecedented four terms of FDR. The fountains and pools placed throughout the memorial represent the important role water played in FDR’s life. The water features and the stones also help set the tone during different times in his presidency, from the reflection to chaos.” National Park Service website

Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson, our third President, was also a political philosopher, scientist, diplomat, horticulturist and inventor. The memorial was dedicated on April 13, 1943, on the 200th anniversary of his birth. Jefferson had this inscribed on his own tombstone, “Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.”

The War Memorials

As we walked on the National Mall, we also stopped by several moving memorials, dedicated to the veterans of World War 2, Vietnam, and Korea.

I can’t tell you how many times I had tears in my eyes as I read the many inscriptions at the memorials and when considering the thousands of young men who gave their lives for our country. It was powerful, sobering, and inspiring. Yes, war is sometimes necessary, but that doesn’t change the harsh reality of its ugliness; the words below are from FDR.

I know this ran long but I hope you enjoyed this tour of the monuments and memorials of Washington DC. I’ll be back another time with highlights from the museums.

And because this city belongs to all Americans, I am sharing #OurTown for Sunday Stills.

~ Susanne

Saturday Caturday Playtime with Benji

I always feel bad leaving the cats behind when we travel and try to make up for it when we get back.

This time we returned to snow and that didn’t sit well with them – too cold and smooshy to go out, at least for any length of time.

“Why, Sue? Why did you bring snow with you?”

“Sorry about that Benji. How about some indoor playtime? I’ll get the tape.”

“The tape! I love the tape!”

“Wow, Benji. You’re so fast! I can hardly keep up with you. How about one more game? You pick this time!”

“Hide and Seek, Sue!!”

“Okay Benji, I’m counting to ten! You go hide.”

“Ready, Sue!”

“I’m looking everywhere Benji, but I can’t find you.”

“Here I am, Sue! In the tub!”

“Indeed you are, Benji!”

~ Happy Caturday from Susanne & Benji

My Beautiful Anna’s Hummingbirds

I’m still on DC time so I woke up early thinking of the hummingbirds. I went out in my robe and boots to bring in the frozen feeders, returning them outside an hour later. The hummingbirds came immediately and rewarded me by posing.

I love my Anna’s Hummingbirds!

#Vivid for Sunday Stills.

~ Susanne

Welcomed Home by Snow!

Yesterday we woke up in the Other Washington.

Today we woke up at home to snow! What a difference a day makes!

We had a wonderful time in Washington DC last week under mostly blue skies and sunshine and I can’t wait to share photos of the monuments, memorials, museums and art galleries, the finest in the world. That will take some time and sorting out of course, but in the meantime, there’s no place like home!

~ Susanne

Happy Turkey Day!

I’ll be taking a few days off from the blog, but will leave you with this tale of Turkey Day from long ago. And yes,, some of you may remember it. 😊

When I was growing up my favorite part of Thanksgiving wasn’t the turkey. Neither was it the dressing which is my favorite today but not then. What I remember most are the hors d’oeuvres and the wine flips and the trip downtown for football.

First the hors d’oeuvres, which is not only the hardest thing to spell, but also may be too grand a word for what we made. We started with crackers, then squirted on the cheese. Next we added cold cuts like salami and pepperoni, then olives and pickles, and used a toothpick to hold the tower together. We placed them on a tray and delivered them to our guests in style and when it was empty we ran back to the kitchen to build the next batch until all the components were gone. Tasty little treats they were.

But dinner was not yet, for while the turkey was in the oven, my sisters drove us to Seattle’s Memorial Stadium for Turkey Day, to watch their high school football team, the Chief Sealth Seahawks, play in the championship game. And I – the little sister – got to tag along with them and their friends. I loved every minute I was in the presence of those confident teenage girls and couldn’t wait to be their age.

The ride home was exhilarating if we won, as we shouted out the windows to the losers driving by, “Seahawks Rule!” Whatever the kids from other cars would yell back, we would always counter with, “who won the game?” and that would silence them.

I remember the year Chief Sealth lost to the Roosevelt Roughriders, 10 to 7.

The ride home was quiet, and we rolled up our windows. But by the time we made it back home, the sting of the loss was over, the turkey was ready, and its aroma filled the air. As we ate our dinner, mom pulled out the special beaded wine glasses and filled ours with 7-Up and a splash of wine, turning our drink a lovely pink (promise not to tell.) Next year we said.

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours.

~ Susanne

Back with the Birds of Oahu

It was just last month that we were in Oahu enjoying the sunshine, beaches, and swaying palm trees….

and yes, the birds!

If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I’m an avid birdwatcher and I love birds of all colors, sizes and persuasions. So I’m finally back as promised to share some of my favorite birds from Oahu.

I’ll start with these sweet doves. They were everywhere, gentle and talkative, both the Zebra Dove and the Spotted Dove. I spent a lot of time figuring out which was which, but now that I have, it seems pretty obvious! The first one has the stripes thus ‘zebra’ and how about those baby blue eyes? The second has the distinctive spots, hence the name and is the larger of the two.

(Click on pictures in the galleries to enlarge them.)

Interestingly, I saw them sharing the same space as the free roaming kitty cats at Ala Moana Park so perhaps they struck up some kind of truce? (I hope so.)

Next are the Common Waxbills. I saw these tiny birds in the grass, always as part of a flock. Just between me and you – I always feel a little bad when any creature has ‘common’ in its name. So let me tell you it’s also known as St Helena Waxbill, and is native to sub-Saharan Africa, a member of the estrildid finch family.

They looked like a miniature version of the Red-crested or Brazilian Cardinal below, which seemed to have the same habits. I love the bright red in both species!

I found the Cattle Egrets in large grassy fields where they were unafraid and willing to pose for me. These were at the Kualoa Regional Park on the windward side of the island and are native to Africa and Spain.

The Black-crowned Night Heron are native to Hawaii, and I found them everywhere in Waikiki, where they were always looking for dinner.

I saw many Pacific Golden Plovers, also native to Hawaii, on or near beaches.

I only found one of these handsome birds – a Red-whiskered BulBul chattering away at Wahiawa Botanical Garden. They feed on fruits, insects, and nectar and are native to tropical Asia.

The White-rumped Shama or Shama Thrush, was hanging out at the Waimea Valley Arboretum. I believe the fluffy one in the second picture is a juvenile Shama and he was singing up a storm when I came upon him.

Moving on, please tell me – why did the chicken cross the road? Perhaps to get away from all the other chickens! I saw them everywhere on the island, a nuisance to some, but charming to me, and protected.

Finally, I’ll close with my favorite little songbird. I found him in the middle of Waikiki, flitting among the flowers on the grounds of one of the hotels. He was so fast, I thought it might be a hummingbird. Solitary, and native to E. Asia, it was a Japanese White-eye or Mejiro. My checklist noted that it can be hard to spot in the trees, so I felt special for having seen it.

Checklist? Yes, I identified all the birds in this post from checklists that I picked up at the Botanical Gardens we visited. (Here’s more on the gardens if you missed it.)

And that will do for today.

Sharing with Sunday Stills, Shades of Brown.

~ Susanne

The Gingko and the Chickadees on the Cedar River Trail

I went for a walk on the Cedar River Trail to see the Golden Gingko in glory.

I gawked – like I did when I saw it the first time, years ago.

I stopped to bask in its color and admire it from this way and that, from the ground up to the sky above

bright against its neighbor.

Their combined leaves took on a magical quality

and then I noticed the chickadees

happy and energetic, flitting from branch to branch, feeding, oblivious to me watching below.

I was happy to share in their joy.

Sharing with #WalkingSquares.

~ Susanne

A Nature Walk at Flaming Geyser

Sorry but you’ll be hard pressed to find a flaming geyser – its methane source petered out years ago, though tossing a match into the well, may get you a reaction (we didn’t have any.)

But who cares with so much beauty surrounding you at Flaming Geyser State Park?

Last week, on a cold and frosty autumn day we bundled up and went for a walk in the park, starting out on the deserted road that runs through the center,

then into the woods to walk the trail beside the Green River.

We saw ducks heading downstream,

and salmon fighting their way upstream, returning to their birthplace to spawn, a fall miracle that never ceases to amaze me.

We paused for a few minutes to absorb this peaceful scene where the river decided to hide and rest a while,

then exited the woods, where as if on cue, two bald eagles appeared overhead.

A fitting end to a beautiful walk. And I even managed to ‘square’ all my photos for Becky’s WalkingSquares challenge.

And that’s all for this Monday morning. Better get out for today’s walk.

~ Susanne

A Conversation with Tiger

“Good morning, Tiger. Don’t look so alarmed. There will be no trip to the vet today”

“Sorry, Sue.”

“We were doing it for you, Tiger. Because we care about you. Just a short ride. A quick checkup. It would have been fine. “

“But you were going to put me in the box, weren’t you Sue?”

“Well yes, Tiger. That’s how it works. Into the box and off to the vet. Kitties do it all the time. Why couldn’t you?”

“I can’t help it, Sue. Bad memories.”

“Kind of like me and the dentist, I guess. But at least I go, Tiger. I don’t hide under the bed.”

“But you would if you could, right Sue?”

“That’s beside the point, Tiger. Eventually I go.”

So, there was no trip to the vet this week.

We’ll try again.


~ Susanne

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