Monday, February 19, 2018

Sepia Saturday 407: Biking

This is my favorite photo of myself and my bike. I was ten years old and soaking up every moment of summer sunshine. My right cheek is all puffed out like a chipmunks. I probably had a wad of Dubble Bubble on one side. I loved blowing bubbles, and adored the little wax-paper comics the gum was wrapped in. 

I'm guessing the year to be 1952 or 1953. We were diving under our desks during emergency drills—Duck and Cover.  Atomic explosions must have been on everybody's minds. How innocent we (or the Fleer Corp.) were, comparing such an event with the sound of gum bubbles popping. Kids have a different reaction today in the classroom when they hear a "Pop" and a "Bang."

In this photo, my nephew, just like a typical little boy, sits backwards on his tricycle. No doubt he was bored with riding it facing front. Behind him, our vegetable garden is in full force. I'd say it was a hot August day and if I could magnify the photo enough, you'd probably see mosquitos bites all over his little torso. He was a towhead at that age, curious and smart. Somehow he managed to look happy and worried at the same. How can you smile and bite your lip simultaneously?

A Google photo search through my thousands of travel photos turned up this interesting pair and their bike in Sri Lanka. There might have been a spat, the way they are turned away from each other.

"I told you to turn right there," the cat said, hissing every word for emphasis.
"You didn't tell me until it was too late!" replied the monkey, looking defeated.
"Look—I try my best, but it's hard to hang on and handle the map," said the cat, turning away.
"Use your tail, for God's sake! You never take advantage of that thing, just letting it hang there or waving it around when you're irritated. If I did that I'd have been dead years ago."

Pedal over to Sepia Saturday for more nostalgia about biking. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sepia Saturday #405: Couples

SEPIA SATURDAY 405 : Saturday 10 February 2018

Couples are our theme this week on Sepia Saturday and our prompt image shows John Henry Nicholson and his wife Anna. All you need to do is to share an old photograph which links in some convoluted way or another with this theme. Post your post on or around Saturday 10th February 2018 and add a link to the list below.

I cut through Old Town in Temecula the other day and saw a parking space, right on Main Street. A rare occasion, I took advantage and pulled in. Ah, happiness—I was right in front of the big Antique mall. 

Here and there, scattered among the booths, I found baskets of postcards or photos. Two photos worked for the theme this week.

The first falls under the "couples" category. The title reads "A Man's Busy Day." 
 She's busy with her typewriter, trying to ignore him. 

A bit racy I thought for 1909. In the context of current times, does he look a bit too eager? You might ask if she's whispering to herself, "Me too." The card was mailed from Marshall, Minnesota to Miss Luva Flinn, Gary, South Dakota. 

When I googled Gary S.D., I found this mention of Luva in a memoir posted on the town's website. She married Doctor Fonger who is likely the author of the postcard. He mentions state examinations, which were probably for a medical license.

Gary’s Doctors- Sometimes we had two doctors in town at the same time.  Some who were here were: Dr. McPeek, who lived where Mike Miller now lives; Dr. Martin, who lived in the Ralph Harkins house; Dr. Fonger who lived where the Standard Station now is; he married Luva Flinn.  Dr Pinard lived in the Carter house, and then he built the Steele house. 
Ed Spanton had a livery barn where Pete Hanson now lives.  The barn was built so doctors and mailmen could keep their horses there to make calls and run routes.  The doctors had to take produce many times for their pay.

Fonger Drug- built by Mr. Fonger, Sr.  This is now the Senior Citizen’s building.  The Fonger’s had one child, a son, Jim.  He left for medical school, came back, and practiced in Gary.  At one time there was a hospital upstairs over where they lived.  We loved to look at Mrs. Fonger’s gray curls which hung down her back when we passed their house on our way to school.  W.J. Rowland worked in the drug store when he first came to Gary.   

Gary's population in 1909 was approximately 227. Today it is 477, according to the 2010 census. From the website, I gather the community has no shortage of self-esteem:  

Gary is a small community (population under 250) with a big personality.  It is known far and wide in this area as the place you go to relax and have a good time.  It is also one of the few small towns in the Midwest that continues to thrive despite the adversities plaguing some small towns today.
Gary and its immediate surroundings provide many diverse businesses with people just as diverse.  From farming and ranching to trucking and wind generators - you'll find it in Gary.  As for entertainment opportunities in the area, you'll find access to lakes for water fun and fishing, as well as plenty of game for hunting.  Wintertime brings snowmobile fun with miles and miles of groomed trails to roam.  If it's peace and quiet you hope to attain, you can find that here too.  Gary has a third of July celebration that beats all with children's events, a horse pull, tractor pull and volunteer firemen water fights.
The Gate City to the West still provides some of that old "cow town" activity as well.  Certain times of year you'll see cattle drives down the streets of town, as well as a couple of rodeos in the area and trail rides for the horse lover.
Whatever you're looking for you're likely to find it in Gary, SD.  The small town with the big personality.

I grew up in Manitoba where the terrain is similar to Gary and was probably treeless in the mid-nineteenth century. I've never heard of the Stanley Tree Claim—here's an interesting description of how it worked. 

            It was an unforgettable day, a lesson that impressed the settlers with the importance of planting trees, and why the government had enacted what was called the "tree-claim act"-which permitted all citizens to acquire 160 acres of government land by planting ten acres of trees, cultivating and properly caring for them for a period of five years. They had to be planted in rows four feet apart. Within a few years (and those were favorable seasons, with plenty of moisture) that broad expanse of Dakota prairie was dotted with groves four and five feet high-although there were many poorly planted and badly cared for-like the crops planted by many at that time.
            On father's tree claim, the second year after the sod had been broken, we planted one-year-old seedling trees from our own nursery, consisting of walnut, butternut, elm and ash. They were tiny things, but healthy, six or eight inches high, and were planted by sticking a sharp pointed rod of iron about one inch in diameter into the ground, making a hole into which the roots of the little trees were sunk a few inches, pressing the soil about them with the foot. Thus our ten acres were carefully planted, a tedious job for we chil­dren in our teens. Between each row of trees a row of corn was planted and the lot was faithfully cultivated one way, growing a good crop of corn, the trees also growing marvelously, reaching a height of two feet the first year, nearly every tree living.
            Those trees continued to thrive for the five years, when "final proof" was made and the government gave its deed to the 160 acres. The Stanley tree claim, before I left the place after living there eight years, was rather a conspicu­ous spot in that prairie region. During that first year (1879) on the (homestead) farm additional acres of native sod were turned over and planted to crops, wheat, oats, barley, corn and flax, most of which proved profitable.  However, in those early days of cultivating the native soil corn did not do very well-the pioneers concluding that "way out there" it was too cold for successfully growing corn. However, that notion was wrong, for later it proved to be a profitable crop to raise.

What an incentive to move to the area! Meanwhile, in Canada, the government was competing with the U.S. for immigrants and also offering free160 acres. 

The second couple's photo was taken at the Hutchison studio in Lincoln, Kansas. I'm guessing she was toothless or had extractions and dentures too late to prevent her gums from collapsing and her mouth from puckering. Under that beard, it looks like he may be suffering from the same condition. Uh oh-now that I've examined the photo more closely, I realize this could be a sister and brother, a couple of siblings. 

The man bears some resemblance to Robin Williams.

George Hutchison was the photographer. He worked between 1895 and 1910 in Lincoln, Kansas. As of the 1920 census, he worked as the county register of deeds and finally, as an abstractor. I had to look up the profession of abstractor and discovered that I did this job, basically title searching, for my lawyer father for one or two summers during school. From Wiki:

An abstractor of title is a person who prepares and certifies the condensed history (known as an abstract of title) of the ownership of a particular parcel of real estate, consisting of a summary of the original grant and all subsequent conveyances and encumbrances affecting the property.

Finally, I offer a romantic photo (for Valentine's day) of my husband and me in December in the Botanical garden in Durban, South Africa posing under the "Kissing Tree."

Here's a photo of the tree alone from a different angle, where you can get the tree kiss more clearly.

For a couple more stories, check out Sepia Saturday.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Consigned to Oblivion

Anyone know a word to describe "things left in books?"

Searching online I  found Forgotten Bookmarks — a book by Michael Popek. He's also compiled Hand Written Recipes, a collection of recipes found in used books and recipe books.

I like the term "Consigned to Oblivion" although the official definitions of the expression are too dark and ominous for the items we find at the Bottom Shelf bookstore in our donated material. This week, there was a sink plug in the Found Things envelope. A sink plug!! Was someone going down the drain? I used to pack a sink plug when traveling in Europe back in the old days when it was useful. Cheap hotels rarely gave you a plug and it's surprising how much you miss such a simple convenience. I wonder if that's how this particular plug turned into a bookmark?

Other items we liked: A flyer from Himelhoch's department store (Grosse Ile, Michigan) which features 50's vintage L'Aiglon dresses. Although I never owned one of them, my sister had one similar in style.

Note the man's arm supporting the model. Holding her up? Holding her back?

Remember the dyed-to-match shoes? I've never gotten over it and still look for shoes to match an outfit.

When I googled the brand, I found this on

L’Aiglon was founded in 1919 in Philadelphia as part of Biberman Brothers, Inc. The company’s original label read “Biberman Make” but changed in 1919 to “L’Aiglon”. On those early labels you will find “Biberman Make” in small letters. Biberman Make dresses were “wash dresses”, or washable. “Tubable” was the word of the era. Biberman also made bathrobes and uniforms for maids and nurses.
Its founder, Joseph Biberman, committed suicide in 1933 as a result of financial difficulties during the Great Depression. The company, however, survived, and continued to make inexpensive but stylish and attractive dresses for women and juniors. During the 1950s, L’Aiglon dresses were used as costumes on the soap opera, The Edge of Night. The company produced dresses until about 1968.

Written by Lizzie Bramlett,

Another item I liked is this Photo Booth strip—so fresh and innocent compared to the studied selfies we see daily on Instagram and Facebook. These two were simply having a good time. 
Would you use your Certificate of Citizenship as a book mark?

The postal air mail service flew five times a days in 1937. The spelling error "indorsement" suggests that proof readers were no better then than now. But maybe "indorsement" was the intended word and not endorsement. Even then I doubt "ounce" and "anywhere" should have been capitalized.

And finally, how about this Polaroid shot dated October 1965? The boy would be about 67 now. I wonder if the photo was hiding in the book for all those years? 

Eating Out

In Damaraland, the staff told us during the day we'd be eating "out" that night. Nobody would explain what that meant—only that we should have a sweater or a wrap on hand. Evening came and we met the lone other person staying in the camp. A Swiss man, he was going to lose his vacation time if he didn't take a few weeks before 2018. He and his wife decided he should go alone to Namibia. He was having a great time. He told us he hadn't and wouldn't take a single photo lest he hurt his wife's feelings.

Our guide led us to dinner along a difficult (for me) rocky path behind the huts and when we turned a corner, we found ourselves in a candlelit grotto. The setting was magical—I didn't pay very much attention to the food, I was so swept up in the candles, the grotto and the staff. They recited the menu in their clicking language, Khoekhoe—one speaking in clicks and the other translating in English. The sunset was stunning. 

Six or seven staff people waited on three guests plus our guide. 
It was a truly magnificent experience. After the food and wine, I wondered if I'd make my way back to hut on the rocky path. Not a day went by on this trip when I didn't lean up against the door once shut for the day and breathe a sigh of relief or satisfaction at having made the day and not twisted an ankle, wrenched a muscle or broken something.

During that day we'd spent five or six hours bouncing around in the jeep enjoying the fantastic landscape. Gorgeous rock formations and desert landscapes changed with every turn as we searched for and tracked the herd of desert-adapted elephants which roam the area. After we found them, we enjoyed watching fifty of the beasts, large and small, old and young walking along the dry river bed. Out of the jeep appeared a table, tablecloth, thermos of tea and biscuits. We enjoyed our snack with an incomparable view.

When we returned to our room, "bush buddies" were placed under the covers—hot water bottles. Nothing compares to these old-fashioned devices. Pshaw on the charmless electric blanket.  I discovered the delight of warming up pieces of your corpus individually rather than warming up the whole thing at once. I warmed my back, then my neck, then my legs. I slept for ten hours. And the bottle was still warmish in the morning.

Meeting Desert Rose was another highlight of the camp. 43 K of wit, spunk and talent, she made us comfortable and kept us entertained.

 A joint venture between a good safari company, Wilderness Safaris, and the people of the local Torra Conservancy, Damaraland Camp has proved hugely successful. It's a model of how community-based tourism can work – and is looked at by other camps in Africa for inspiration. The camp has a great atmosphere with friendly, happy staff who clearly love what they do and are devoted to making your stay as enjoyable and memorable as possible. 

Friday, February 02, 2018

Five Guys - Masks in Kuala Lumpur

No Tsmo King             Sum Ting Wong              Ug Lee            Soon Fat           WaiHongMi Mi

We wondered how long these guys had hung out together. Suspended from nails, we discovered them dangling cheek-to-cheek in a dusty cubicle in Kuala Lumpur. The more we examined them, the more convinced we were that they weren't getting along very well. In my imagination, a conversation was on-going.

Sum Ting Wong: “Are you ever going to stop smoking that f______ cigarette stub? Look at my mouth from the second-hand smoke! Spit it out for God’s sake. And do you think anyone’s interested in you with those eyebrows and that thing stuck to your lips? You’re going to hang here forever. “

No Tsmo King: “Quit your constant belly-achin'. Will you ever understand that I’m happy here on the end? “Bloom where you’re planted,” they say. That’s what I’m doing. By the way, you’re dead wrong about the eyebrows. I get compliments all the time. Just the other day some marijuana people from California looked me over, but I put them off with my Bad Karma trick. The last thing I’d want is to end up in Ventura posing for Doobie package art. Ugh.”

Ug Lee: “Did I hear my name? Could you two pipe down? How about a little peace and quiet? I’m sick of being caught in the middle settling your petty beefs and lying to all of you about my feelings. One more little white lie for the sake of peace and my nose will be dragging on the ground —Fatso, you’re snoring again. “

Soon Fat: “What? What? Oh, I must have nodded off. Sorry about the snoring. It’s my stretched out lower lip and the boredom. Look at the bags under my eyes. I feel sick. And if you’d all help with the karma thing, I might get out of here and onto a restaurant wall, where I belong. How about giving me a shot at the end spot. Trade places with me Wai Hung!”

Wai Hung Mi: “What? I have to be on the end because of my claustrophobia. And it’s not just that. The dot on my forehead—you guys told me it was nothing—I think it might be a melanoma!  Can you see it Ug? What do you think? Before we moved in here, my face was in the sun half the day in the old stall on Petaling Street  And I’m so pale now…..”

The conversation sounded like an old Bickerson’s episode. We moved on but the chatter in my head hung on.

Like in other Asian countries, there’s been a move to relocate many of the vendors from the crowded hot streets, indoors to resolve myriad problems with street sales: safety, sanitation, and noise being three of many. We as tourists enjoy the markets and the casual food, but I can see where it’s for the common good to relocate them where they can be licensed and probably taxed. Will the zany, noisy, smelly streets, like Petaling Street in Chinatown endure or like in Singapore, will it all disappear?

There’s a generational demographic effect ongoing as well. In Singapore, the children of food stall vendors have done very well. Many have gone to university or have become professionals or entrepreneurs. They are not going to sell noodles for a living and take over the family business. Once the old folks retire, the businesses close up or, with luck, they can sell them to immigrant newcomers. The same thing will probably happen in KL.

A few more KL photos....
Cute Bangladeshi sunglass vendor. Did I buy a pair?

The wonderful Chinatown shopping street.

How to eat fries on a motorscooter.

A restaurant being remodeled uses graffiti for reviews.

Another dark and dusty shop. More masks. 


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Deadvlei Namibia

My jet lag is horrible. I always suffer after a long trip. Everything shuts down and refuses to calibrate. I'm hungry immediately after eating. Exhausted, I can't sleep and then I can't stay awake. We got home late Wednesday night. Thursday I felt like I was recovering from surgery and had a terrible hangover. I counted the hours until Friday when the symptoms began abating. Today is a bit better. I turned on my Mac (which I missed terribly) and downloaded a few photos.

In Namibia, we visited the great sand dunes at Sossusvlei and the famous Deadvlei. Famous because of a wondrous National Geographic photo by Franz Lanting of the 600-year-old dead Camelthorn trees scattered on an expanse of whitish clay pan known as a vlei. Here it is. Taken during the day, the photo was controversial because many thought it had been photoshopped but it wasn't. The effect is the result of lighting and timing. You can read about it here.
Richard took this photo of me standing by one of the trees. I stood in that one spot of shade waiting for him to complete his climb of Big Daddy, a huge sand dune, reputedly one of the biggest in the world.
I fiddled with the image on Lunapic—what else can you do when you're not thinking straight. With Lunapic you can try different effects with a single keystroke and remove them just as quickly. This was a little over the top.

 I replaced the day sky with a orange starry night for a strange effect.
I could probably improve this one with some work, but not today. 

Richard completed the hike up the Big Daddy dune. I gave up after four or five steps. My balance was so thrown by the shifting sand that I was afraid of ending up with a wrenched knee or back. This is a photo of a small party ahead of him. By the time he reached the top everyone else had quit. He had to slide down to the vlei (where I was waiting in the shade) on his butt—there is no other way, short of rolling—which some do. 

Later in the trip through Namibia when the subject of the dunes came up our fellow travelers expressed amazement that Richard climbed the whole distance. Most don't make it. He didn't think it was a big deal. 

Another Lunapic effect.

Time for another nap.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Sri Lanka

On a walking tour of Colombo, we met a delightful young Russian woman touring on her own. She takes photos of little Siamese cats she carries in a small box. She poses them in interesting or iconic locations. Here, we were at the Galle Face Hotel, the Grand Dame hotel of Colombo. The car is the first car Prince Philip ever purchased. Richard took the photo of me taking the photo of Daria taking the photo of her cats. Daria has been everywhere—spends all her free time on the road. She had some interesting travel suggestions for us, if a little vigorous for people our age. After spending so much time with old people, it was refreshing to be with her.

I loved the hotel with it's spare design. I know it's not comfortable but it was so easy on the eyes after so much visual stimulation and after feeling crowded and buried in clutter in our small cabin on the ship.
We were in Colombo ten years ago. You wouldn't recognize it as the same place today.