Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Parrot of Memory

the parrot of memory, originally uploaded by AmyEmilia.

This little parrot lives on my kitchen window sill. Every time I see him, he reminds me of my grandmother. She had him in a plant as well, although I can't remember if it was in a kitchen window or one of the cactus plants. I love the way the afternoon light makes him glow with memory.

Monday, July 11, 2011

desert elephant - namibia 2002

desert elephant - namibia 2002, originally uploaded by AmyEmilia.

On an all-day game drive in the Skeleton Coast Park, Namibia...  we saw quite a few elephants in a sandy river bottom.  There was a family group of about 6-7 individuals, but most of them kept farther away. We were so close, could hear the elephant crunching the grass.  Spent at least 15 minutes (although it felt MUCH longer) parked about 50 feet away from him.  Eventually he became a bit agitated and did a little mock-charge but our guide assured us that we were fine...  and of course we were. Seeing the famous desert elephants of the Namib desert was one of my life's ambitions.  The game drive had lots of other moments (giraffe, eagle, gemsbok, jackals, impala) but this was easily the most remarkable. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Goat in Himba camp - Namibia 2002

himba goat, originally uploaded by AmyEmilia.
This little kid was curled up under a pile of firewood gathered at a Himba village near the Skeleton Coast. The sun was so hot, and the landscape so desolate. Hard to believe that the Himba make their living herding cattle!

Taken during my visit to Namibia in September 2002.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Renaissance time in Italy, for women who want it!

Cook, eat, speak (and pray to stay)!!

A fellow blogger is offering what sounds like an awesome opportunity to spend 10 days hanging out with fellow women, learning the language, and reconnecting with yourself.  The price is right too, so check it out! 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Black Witch Moth

Black Witch Moth, originally uploaded by AmyEmilia.
As we were rinsing the sand from our evening beach walk, this moth flew over from the neighbor's house.  We have seen them before but they are not common here.  The Black Witch Moth  (Ascalapha odorata) is, according to Texas Entomology, perhaps the largest insect north of Mexico.  This particular speciment is a male, because it does not have a white band running across the wings. 

The Black Witch has a somewhat grim set of cultural traditions around it. Apparently it is a harbinger of death in most of Central America.  If it enters the house, and there is a sick person in the house, the person will die.  Fortunately for us, this guy only made it to the patio.  A brighter prospect is the South Texas tradition that says if the moth stays above your door, you will win the lottery!  So I guess we should go buy a ticket. 

Here is a second picture, so you can get some idea of his size.  I'd guess this guy is about 6 inches across.   

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Finally, rain in Houston!

What a lovely sight. Hopefully we will get at least an inch or two out of this front. I think we are at least 12 inches below normal rainfall levels.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

View at La Torretta

Beginning of our company's annual conference. Looks like a nice place!

Friday, April 29, 2011

a special day

Today was an extra-special day - and not because of the royal wedding.  Today I was privileged to hold a hummingbird in my hand!  We were watching tv (yes, it was a program about William and Kate's big day) when suddenly there was a THUNK at the sliding glass doors. Mo was instantly interested, and when I went to find out why, I found there was a stunned hummingbird lying in a tiny heap on the deck. I went outside and carefully picked him up, trying to see if he really was alive. 

Soon enough I saw that he was breathing and shaking his shining head back and forth unsteadily.  We hoped that if we gave him some sugar water he might revive.  I quickly sprinkled some sugar into a small bowl, put a bit of water on it and stirred.  Dipping my fingertip into the sweetened water, I hoped that the drop clinging to it would appeal to this little guy.   For a few minutes it didn't look too promising - he just kept shaking his head and refusing to drink.  Eventually though his tiny little tongue began flickering and he drank quite a bit! 
Mo came around to investigate and he began to struggle.  So I took him outside, opened my hand, and he made a bee-line for the trees.  What a privilege to hold such a quicksilver creature!  I am grateful for the gift, and that he recovered. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wildly sold in Italy...

So I bought this Colomba (Easter bread) at Central Market in Houston, and didn't read the tag until I got it home.  They should do a little spell checking before they print out the tag!  :)  The bread itself is just *okay*, the judgement here is that it may be a bit stale.  Too bad because I was hoping for something really special.  I guess I will just have to make it myself next year! 
We are spending Easter at the beach house.  Not completely true - I'm flying to LA for a couple days, leaving tonight.  But fortunately I'm coming back here!  The island is really packed with tourists coming in from all over Texas and Mexico.  We even saw a license plate from Mexico City... a LONG drive to South Padre Island. 
Happy Easter to all! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

gardenia (hipstamatic)

gardenia (hipstamatic), originally uploaded by AmyEmilia.
This little gardenia has finally bloomed!  We bought at MarchMart two years ago, and it struggled through last year.  Now we have four blooms, four buds, and the leaves look healthy.  Gardenias are notorious for being finicky, so I can only hope that this one has found its feet. 

I used the Hipstamatic app (iPhone) to take this shot. Even the most mundane shot becomes poetic!

Monday, April 4, 2011

spring garden 2011

spring garden 2011, originally uploaded by AmyEmilia.

Via Flickr:
Houston in the spring is an interesting mixture. Iris and roses in bloom. Sunflowers reaching for the sky. Hamaelia and hibiscus recovering from the hard freezes of winter 2010. Peach blossoms have come and gone, and there are more than 40 tiny small peaches beginning to form. Likewise, two lemons and 4 satsuma oranges are starting to swell. The pineapple guava trees are in tight bud, with the promise of white sweet petals and stamens bursting like fireworks. The coreopsis have already ventured two flowers, and there are dozens of buds coming. The small curling tendrils of the white pea vine are venturing forth.

Here and there, all over the garden, there are small basil plants beginning to put out their spicy leaves. Our bay "tree" survived the harsh winter and has put on a brave new branch. One Italian parsley plant has been installed in its own special pot. Oregano and thyme also made it through the winter, and the thyme is putting out the most exquisite white flowers.

The much beloved rangoon vine didn't survive, so we have replaced it with a climbing Don Juan rose on the left side of the arbor, and a sweet Asian jasmine on the right.

Ever hopeful, we have planted 4 tomato plants and two gypsy peppers. Maybe this year we will actually get a few before the squirrels do.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Emerald Princess, day 10, Fort lauderdale

Home again. We had a great time but are glad to be back. Now all that is left is to disembark, get through customs and get to the airport. Looking forward to seeing Mo!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Emerald Princess, day 7, Bonaire

Hello from Bonaire! As you can see, the weather is overcast. What you cannot see is how humid it is! We had a good time wandering around the little shops. The island is Dutch and you can see that in some of the crafts. Oddly enough they converted to the US dollar in January.

Our health continues to be good other than the increasingly rosiness of my face!

Tomorrow is Aruba! Then two sea days and back to reality.

Emerald Princess day 5, Dominica

What a great day we had today! The rainforest tram was so amazing, really a great way to see the forest. We are impressed too with the open friendliness of the people. Tomorrow we are heading for Grenada. Nothing special planned, but we have had fun so far just by walking around.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Emerald Princess day 4, St. Thomas

We arrived early this morning, with a brisk breeze in our faces. Amazing to see how this big ship tucked itself right into the pier. Walked around town a bit - saw the old Danish fort, stopped in to see the Governor but unfortunately he was not available.

This afternoon we leave for Rouseau, Dominica. There we are taking a rain forest canopy tour in a kind of gondola you would normally see in a ski resort. The tour notes say that insect repellant is ESSENTIAL!

There are several Italians on board including the head waiter in the main dining room. He called the room yesterday to inquire after us since we had not showed up yet for any if the meals. We are supposed to go meet him tonight.

Hopefully I can post again tomorrow.

This photo was taken using Pro HDR for the iPhone.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Peach blossoms!

The first peach blossoms opened on my little Bonanza dwarf peach tree today.  This will be it's third year and I'm really looking forward to the fruit. It was very tasty last year!
The garden is really starting to green up and grow.  By the time we come back from vacation things will be in full swing. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fifteen films that will always stick with me

I was tagged by a friend on Facebook...  so here we go!

The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. 15 films that you've seen that will always stick with you. Take no more than 15 minutes to decide. Actually this is a bit difficult for me since I'm really not much of a film buff. No particular order except for the first two...

  1. The Princess Bride
  2. The Lord of the Rings (Fellowship, Two Towers, and Return of the King) trilogy (I know it's three films but I like to think of it as one 18-hour extravaganza when I watch the extended DVD versions one after another!)
  3. K-19
  4. Jonathan Livingston Seagull
  5. Sound of Music
  6. Conan the Barbarian
  7. The Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, and Bourne Ultimatum (all excellent action films, again best if watched back-to-back-to-back)
  8. Tank Girl
  9. Finding Nemo
  10. Wall-E
  11. Fantasia
  12. Star Wars
  13. Roman Holiday
  14. Alien
  15. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Of the fifteen mentioned above, there is only one that I would NEVER see again - and that would be K-19.  It is easily the most heartbreaking movie I have ever seen.  Alien is another one that I would avoid seeing again, because it is so scary.  All the rest are favorites that I would - and will - see whenever they are on the TV or even on my iPhone (which is where the Bourne movies are at the moment).

Which movies always stick with you? 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A super day

No Super Bowl festivities here... just a beautifully warm day.  Clear, deep blue skies with little white puffs of cloud once in a while. Perfect!  We spent much of it outside, working on the fence that's been falling down since Hurricane Ike.  (Which was in 2008!)  The citrus trees are so happy to see the sun.  A little pruning and such too, but there is more cold weather on the way next week so I restrained myself. 

I used to watch football - way back when - but I can't get enthusiastic about the game anymore. It takes too long, and I have more interesting things to do.  Fortunately DH feels the same way!   

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Happy World Nutella Day!

Today is World Nutella Day!  I'm a big fan of Michelle Fabio's Bleeding Espresso blog and the peperoncino and Nutella cake she cooked up sounds fabulous.  I did a very restrained celebration, with Nutella and Kedem biscuits (they are a bit like Petit Beurre).  I may make Nutella Bread tomorrow - it looks yummy.

I also searched for the Italian version of Nutella, which apparently tastes differently. It has been a couple years since I tasted the genuine article.  I'm working on finding it here in Houston. No luck at Phoencia, my go-to grocery for international foods. However perhaps I can get to Spec's downtown to check out their stock this coming week. 

For those who are interested in a little more history, here is the Wikipedia link and the Ferrero (Italian) link

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Really really cold...

The temperature is falling into the mid-twenties (Fahrenheit) tonight. A challenge for Houston - we don't usually see that kind of cold.  I've covered the variegated ginger, the Meyer lemon, the Atlas mandarin, and the calamondin orange.  Who knows what frizzled leaves will greet me in three days time, when the temps are finally going to get somewhat reasonable. The great news is that our precipitation came in the form of rain, and was gone in just a couple hours. No shoveling here! 


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