Merry Christmas to all my followers

December 24, 2010

Bison charge in Yellowstone- photo Wm Albert Allard

Here is a beauty of a photo from the National Geographic website. Photographer is William Albert Allard.

It shows a charge of American Bison through the snow of Yellowstone National Park in winter.

All the best to my readers and commenters.

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Gift for someone who has everything.

November 5, 2010

iCarta iPod toilet paper holder

Here is another suggestion for those hard to buy for relatives and friends, especially the ones who have everything. A toilet paper iPod station with speakers and controls, only $65 US from iCarta.

I don’t know about you, but there is no way I want to be on the throne that long.


A Redneck Christmas

December 10, 2009

Rednecks celebrate the season too and sometimes in style. This is  a photo from the Mental Floss website. I just couldn’t resist posting it for all the workers out there. I’m sure Jeff Foxworthy would appreciate this.

It’s not easy to see, but the tree is constructed of green “beverage” containers of the glass variety.


Travels With The Gang: Christmas in Maui

March 25, 2008

damiangirls.jpgI know it’s a little late, but I finally put my notes together and here is another adventure we had with the kids. Over Christmas our family vacationed in Maui.

Here I was planning on confining myself for nine hours on an airplane with the gang. Was I crazy? Damian, my dynamic six year old, and three year old twins, Claire and Livia. Would this be a vacation? Sure I thought hopefully. The time in Hawaii maybe, the flight, well that might be another story.

My wife and I loaded their carry-ons with games, coloring books, markers, books and of course goodies and snacks. Will there be enough to last nine hours? That was the million dollar question.

The trek starts with waking them out of a sound sleep at 2:30 in the morning. As usual when you want them to wake up, they want to sleep. You can bet that if we wanted them to sleep, they would be up and ready to go.

Finally we get up. Next we are waiting for the cab to take us to the airport. The cab shows up at 3:30. We load up and then the cat escapes into the cold darkness. Damian and I are chasing it around the yard and it is managing to make us look like fools. At last we pounce on her and toss her back into the warmth of the house, With the cat rescued from death by deep freeze we are on our way to the airport.

At the airport we get lucky and are near the first of the line. Check in, customs pre-clearance and security goes well. Damian is convinced to remove the wheels from his Heelies. Claire refuses to let security x-ray her “little Barney”. This is one of her favorite stuffed toys, she is a Barney freak, and she is not about to part with it. Finally we manage to get it in the x-ray and returned to her. God knows it might have contained a bomb.

The first leg of the flight, Calgary to Denver, goes well. Kids are on their best behavior. The food holds out and the batteries are still working.

Damian sits with me and says, “Dad when we get to Maui I am going to run into the room, get my swim suit on, and jump into the pool.” I decide then and there I better catch some zzzz so I can keep up with him. So I make that my goal. We’ll see how that works out.

Next we board the plane to Hawaii. After sitting on the tarmack for over one hour waiting for “connecting” passengers and their bags, we finally start moving. Halfway through the flight, “the boy” decides it is time to pester the sisters. Hell, it’s been way too quiet and uneventful, at least in his opinion. A melee ensures and separation is the order of the day. When we finally get his “engine” at an idle peace settles over the passenger compartment of the jetliner.

Food has run out and we still have 4 hours to go! My kingdom for some M&Ms. Are we there yet? No that is not the kids braying that, it’s me desparately hoping the pilot has made a mistake and the islands will suddenly appear and we will be on solid ground where I can actually give them a timeout.

Turns out that United Airlines has a contest to see how long it takes to get halfway. I can tell them. It takes several fights and lots of crying, from the kids, and parents before reach that milestone.

They say that countries will always find a way to start a war. My kids parallel the Middle East, any excuse will do. Share is not a word in their vocabulary.

Finally we are at the condo. Very nice one bedroom with large pullout in the common area. The kids decide they all want to sleep in the king-size pullout. They are so tired that it works out well. Damian in the middle with sisters on either side. Big brother is so good to them.

Before bed they go swimming with Uncle Mac, Colin and Caleigh. Meanwhile Cindy, Karen and I hike down to the nearest store for some provisions. The road is super busy with little or no sidewalk. It is so dark it is dangerous walking. We return with basics for the morning.

We are all so tired. To bed with plans for finding a nice beach in the morning.

To Lahania today and the supposedly number one beach in Maui just to the north. It was OK but lots of rocks. Very hot today. Damian and the girls had a blast in the sand building sand castles and burying Uncle Mac. Tried to get on glass bottom boat but full up so will try again tomorrow. Lahania is an historic whaling town from the 1800s with many old buildings. The old court house and jail had a huge Banyan tree in front. This building was once the capital of Hawaii. It is the spot where the official ceremony took place lowering the Hawaiian flag and raising the American flag. This made Hawaii a territory of the United States in 1888. The tree resembled an octopus with its many convoluted branches. Kids climbed all over it before we realized that we weren’t supposed to do that, oh well the kids had fun. Tomorrow snorkling and perhaps the glass bottom boat. Sure beats the heck out of the snow and ice of Calgary.

Snorkling at a local beach today. Lots of fish and a reef/rock formation that came right into shore. Not deep and good viewing. Saw about 20 different species of marine fish.

Back to the condo and a steak barbeque this evening. Christmas Eve. Strange but true. Christmas Day will be a luau on the beach. Maui is fantastic.

Christmas morning we went to Big Beach down the coast from Kihei and relaxed in the sun. Later in the afternoon we went to Lahanai to the luau. The dances and such were excellent, but food was terrible. What a disappointment. All in all a good time though. They did have a special buffet for the kids with chicken fingers and fries.

I was dreading the flight home because sister-in-law and family wouldn’t be with us. They left a day earlier, we had to spent an extra night in a hotel near the airport. I extended the rental car which was one of the smartest things I did. We spent the day at the local mall and took the kids to two movies before heading to the airport.

Turns out we were worried for no reason. The kids were so exhausted that they slept all the way back to San Francisco and then to Calgary. Damian was awake for the last two hours, but he and I watched The Simpsons on my laptop and he drew pictures.
 


Christmas Cats !

December 14, 2007

Just in time for Christmas someone has found out how to clone cats and produce glow-in-the-dark pussies. Just think of the advantages of this:

  • cats can be moving decorations all over the house.
  • you can now see that damn cat you’re always tripping over when you go down the hall to use the bathroom at night.
  • the cat that loves to climb and be part of your Christmas tree can now be just another decoration.

What I wonder is will they come in different colors? Also it would be nice to get ones the blink on and off. Short-hair versus long-hair, what will the effect be on lighting quality. This opens up a whole myriad of possibilities. Consumers will be lining up to be the first on the block to have one. What a conversation piece to have walking around.

Finally if you really do miss the cat that trashed your tree every year, you can bring it back for an encore. Save some DNA from the first and you have endless cats to bring joy to your Christmas season.


The Cat and the Christmas Tree: A Seasonal Tail

December 5, 2007

zip4.jpg

Above: Zippy

Cats and Christmas trees just don’t mix. Every year when I put mine up I’m always thinking of ways to discourage felines from climbing or otherwise abusing the centerpiece of the holiday cheer.

When I was younger a friend of mine had a big Siamese male cat who sat very patiently watching the family set up and decorate the tree. It seemed to me that he wasn’t all that interested. Once the tree was up and decorating completed it was a different story. He would then immediately run across the room and dash up the tree to the very top sending the tree crashing down with decorations scattered here and there all over the house. After that he wouldn’t touch the tree the rest of the holidays. It was almost like he was saying, “been there done that”. Needless to say this family finally outsmarted the cat and tied the tree securely at the top to the curtain rods. The cat didn’t like that much, it spoiled his fun. He just said the heck with it and left it alone. It was just no fun anymore.

The other memorable encounter between a feline and a tree was that of my big orange tabby who went by the name of Zippy. Now at first it didn’t seem like he was all that interested in the tree, but I should have known better based on my previous experience. One morning a few days after our tree raising  I came downstairs to a horrible site. Zippy had the tree on it’s side on the living room floor dragging it along like it was prey. He was tugging and pouncing alternatively as he moved it across the carpet. Yes he was actually dragging it like a leopard with his prey. Decorations, or should I say what was left of them, covered the floor as far as the eye could see. He was so intent on his fun that at first he didn’t see me. As I watched him I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. The end result was another tree raising and decorating party including the use of brand new ornaments. This time I tied the top off in an attempt to deter another feline tree felling.

We now have an artificial tree. Cats still seem interested, but not in climbing. The smell of a real tree brought out the feral instinct in my “domestic” tabby, if you can really tame them. They really only keep you around to feed them, clean the litter and scratch them behind the ear from time to time. Oh yes they do enjoy the Christmas season, so many trees and so little time.

Now as a footnote, Zippy has passed on to the great litterbox in the sky, but what vivid Christmas memories he left behind. Because we missed the battle of cat and tree we now have another cat. Will the tree survive? Stay tuned. “Get off that tree cat!”


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