Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Land of Enchantment

Mystery trip, no more. This is my fourth day -- arriving late on Monday night -- in beautiful New Mexico. I had a quick overnight in Albuquerque and left on Tuesday morning for Santa Fe. Despite being greeted by snow on arrival I've covered several counties and am enjoying the array of sights, experiences and fabulous food. The beauty of New Mexico is overwhelming and I'm in complete awe of the beauty of sky and the cloud formations. Each moment holds a different sky, and all are beautiful.

This is the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe

The clouds over Santa Fe

The sky and vista of northern New Mexico

I've enjoyed extraordinary experiences, with Bandelier National Monument, Georgia O'Keefe's home and Ghost Ranch coming to the top of the list. I'll be doing posts during April on alternate days to my A to Z blogging about New York City. 

Thank you, New Mexico, for glorious sights and some of the friendliest people I've ever met. New Mexico is the 43rd American state I've visited and definitely on my travel list for a return visit.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Her Secret

Fans of Amish novels, there is a new series in town, The Amish of Hart County.  Written by Shelley Shepard Gray, author of the Charmed Amish Life Series, Her Secret is the first book in the new series.

Her Secret introduces Hannah Hilty, a charming and engaging heroine. After a serious stalking incident Hannah and her family move to Hart County, Kentucky to begin a new life. There is suspense, there is romance and there are the novel is set against the rich fabric of details of Amish life.

As much as I enjoyed Hannah and the other characters, the pace moved slowly for me. I liked Her Steps, but it wasn't a favorite read. I do think that readers that enjoy Amish novels will still want to read it. It was worth reading, but not one of my favorites.

I've got most of my packing done and in a few hours I'm off to my mystery destination.

As ever, thanks for visiting and happy reading!

Please note: I was given a copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group in an exchange for my thoughts. The opinions are all mine.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Pink Saturday Goes to the Falkland Islands

Welcome to Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands

I know I said I was just about finished with Antarctica/South America posts, but I decided to make one last visit for Pink Saturday. I've missed sharing in the Pink Saturday fun by posting too late, but  this earlier post will let me participate this week.

Without getting into complicated political and historical details, the Falkland Islands,  three hundred miles from the coast of South America, is a British Overseas Territory. The population is approximately three thousand people and the area is beautiful.
Christ Church Cathedral
I spent the morning exploring Stanley. My favorite site was Christ Church Cathedral, the southernmost Anglican Cathedral in the world. It is the parish church of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the British Antarctic Territories. The monument in front of the church is the Whalebone Arch, constructed of the jaws of two blue whales, and raised in 1933 to commemorate the centenary of British rule in the Falklands.

The view from the dock in Stanley

The Celebrity Infinity from the tender boat to Stanley. The port of Stanley is too small to permit a cruise liner to dock and much smaller boats were used to go from the ship to the port.

Gentoo penguins

I enjoyed my morning in Stanley very much -- both for the scenery and the seemingly endless array of penguin souvenirs. I stopped myself from going completely wild, but I did find a few treasures that came home with me. My favorite is a pair of penguin socks that I suspect will often be seen in future photographs. But the real treasure of the day was a visit to the coastal plain where the Gentoo penguins live. The trip to the penguins included the absolutely most bumpy 4x4 ride imaginable. There are no roads and in the back of the 4x4 I could feel every change in the landscape that we encountered. However, seeing the penguins made the trip well worthwhile. It was an adventure and a fabulous memory.

Our "road" to the penguins. 
Now I officially conclude my South American Adventure posts. What remains are fabulous memories, new friends, greater knowledge and appreciation of South America and Antarctica and yes, penguin socks.  
This is just in time for the latest adventure, which begins in approximately twenty-four hours. It's a lot shorter, a lot nearer and I don't need winter clothes or currency other than United States dollars.
I do anticipate a lot of fun, great memories and photographs to share. 
As ever, thanks for sharing and have a great week!


Friday, March 24, 2017

Breaking News: Buttercupland to Participate in the 2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge

This year is zipping by and it's almost time for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. The challenge -- blogging every day (except Sunday) with post titles in alphabetical order -- is one of my favorite blogging activities. It requires discipline and resourcefulness and it gets me to commit to posting almost every day, which is a very good thing.

Last year's theme was the very popular set of coffee posts and I thought about going with another year of food posts. Two years before I did a series of posts on Broadway. But I am going in a somewhat different direction. Inspired by a Facebook friend who is planning to make a first visit to  New York City in June, this year's A to Z theme will be...

 Welcome to New York City!
Some of the posts will be very specific to New York -- favorite sights, restaurants and some history -- and some of the posts will include general travel advice. I've been asked a lot of questions about New York and I'm planning to put together a guide that will be useful for many people who will be visiting my favorite city. My first post will be on April 1 and I hope you will join the fun. 
It's been a quiet end-of-the-winter week. I've finished my first week of physical therapy with my two terrific therapists. I've also gotten back to my walking, not quite at the level I was at before my shoulder injury but I will be on track to walk a thousand miles before the end of 2017.
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Elusive Miss Ellison

I know I do review romance fiction often in Buttercupland, but it's not my favorite genre. I've come to read it, and have more appreciation of it because of my association with Litfuse Publicity Group. Because I especially enjoy reading historical fiction, my choice of romance novels leans to novels set in periods I find most interesting to read about.

One of my favorite periods is the Regency Era in England, which we often know it best in literature due to Jane Austen's novels. I am delighted to announce that I've found an engaging read in this era, The Elusive Miss Ellison, by Carolyn Miller. Fans of Regency fiction, this is one for you. Fans of romance and historical fiction, this is one for you, too.

I do a lot of my reading on the subway and several times while I was reading The Elusive Miss Ellison, I found myself transported back two hundred years ago to the English countryside to follow the story of Miss Lavinia Ellison and Nicholas, the Earl of Hawkesbury. They are two complex and engaging characters and were very enjoyable company for my subway rides around New York City.

Though we may tend to think of life as simpler and less complex in historical periods, human emotion was equally complicated and the search for love had many twists and turns. Carolyn Miller gives us two main characters in which I was very much interested. Their story engaged me and kept me reading. I enjoyed the historical descriptions of this period very much.

It's back to winter today in New York, though thanks to the Elusive Miss Ellison, I'm transported to a balmy spring afternoon in England two hundred years ago. I wish we could all get together for a cup of tea.  My thoughts are also very much on today's London and my heart goes out to those injured in today's incident and the families of those who were killed.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take very good care.

Please note: I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for my thoughts. My opinions are all mine.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Make Way for Penguins

  our port of call to see one of the largest colonies of Magellenic penguins in the world.
 Before I left for this trip when I generally thought of penguins dancing on ice in Antarctica. I was sorely wrong. The Magellenic penguins raise their young in Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands from September into March. There is very little dancing on ice during this time. The area we visited at Punta Tomba looks a lot more like the American Southwest -- if there was an ocean in close proximity and there were thousands of penguins. I have to confess I didn't do my homework before I left for Argentina because this came as a surprise to me. The temperature in Punta Tomba was in the 80's and I wore a t-shirt and a sun hat. No parkas were in sight.    
Penguins have the right of way in Punta Tombo

Yes, I was very close to the penguins, who are about two feet tall. No, they aren't scared of people, except if a thoughtless tourist puts a camera lens two inches from their faces. Then they get agitated. There are signs everywhere about giving penguins right of away and not getting too close to them, but sadly, a few people disregarded these instructions. 

The penguins kept cool -- they're all "dressed" in feathers -- by swimming.
Penguin Beach Party

A penguin nest or burrow. 

Penguins return to the same mate each year. They recognize them by their "voice."

 This may be my last "Antarctica" post. I could probably do a hundred more posts -- and may do one or two more -- but it's time to move on. There are books to write about and photographs to share from New York life. In April I will be joining the A to Z daily blogging and before that begins there is one more trip. Planned before Antarctica, it's somewhere I have also long looked forward to.  And there will be pictures to share.

As ever, thanks for visiting and wishes for a great week.    

Dreaming of Orlando

After a few weeks of spring-like weather, winter returned on Tuesday. It wasn't the giant blizzard that was predicted, but it still looks and feels like winter here. The forecast was for fifty degrees today, but it doesn't look like that will be the reality. It's no wonder that my mind started dreaming of Orlando. 

BlogHer17 is going to Orlando, and I'm planning to be there, too. I signed up in December, but put it to the back of my mind. There were a lot more months to go and many things to look forward to before I started to focus on late June. But three months have gone by and it's time to begin to think about travel plans. I'm thinking of spending an extra day or two in Orlando -- the lazy river at the hotel sounds really good -- and I'm looking for suggestions about favorite Orlando activities. I've been to Disneyworld, but not to Universal or Harry Potter World. I'm thinking one of those two would be my choice. 

I've spent more time indoors than usual last week, avoiding slippery sidewalks. I'm planning to be out and about more and so looking forward to it. I start physical therapy Tuesday. While I'm not especially eager for the experience, I am looking forward to getting my shoulder back in shape.

As ever thanks for visiting and take good care.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Pink Saturday Goes to Paradise Bay, Antarctica

The view from the ship's deck of Paradise Bay, Antarctica

We've crossed the Drake Passage, and left South America behind. On to Antarctica!
When I hear the words, Paradise Bay aka Paradise Harbor, I think of a tropical island with warm sand and drinks with little umbrellas. The reality is very different. If I posted a picture of myself with Paradise Bay as my background, I would be wearing a knitted wool cap, winter coat and turtleneck sweater. Hot coffee -- not a margarita -- was my beverage of choice.

I took dozens -- perhaps hundreds of pictures -- and since I've been home I've gone through them a number of times. My goal was to choose "the best" pictures of Antarctica. I've realized the best is elusive and I chose four that I liked very much that reflected the scenery I saw.

We saw many icebergs, which are abundant in Antarctica and the waters around Newfoundland. We sailed with an ice pilot to assist the navigational staff of the ship. This is someone with extensive experience in sailing in waters that are especially treacherous because of icebergs.

We had an extraordinarily clear day and were fortunate to have sunshine some of the time. 
This is a closer view of the ice and snow covered mountains.
I'm still in awe that I was able to view these sights in person. One of my friends wrote of my good fortune to do this trip in luxury, while so many who had sailed here did so with great privation. I am profoundly aware that this is a gift not available to many and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity. I am happy to be able to share it with Pink Saturday  and my Buttercupland friends.
We're looking at a blizzard -- at least a foot of snow -- in the next few days. It won't be Antarctica, but I'm planning to keep cozy at home for most of the week. I'm going to run a few errands tomorrow and make a quick run to the grocery, too. Then it's coffee, books and blogging, which sounds really good to me. 
As ever, thanks for visiting. Take good care and keep cozy.  


Ancient Persia in the Morning...

...and Antarctica tonight. It's not time travel, just multiple posts in the same day. 

We fly through centuries and across miles.
Stars in the Sky by Harriet Goren

This morning we're celebrating Purim, a Jewish holiday which began last night and concludes at sundown this evening. It commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from destruction and it is a happy, lively and festive holiday.

I owe the beautiful illustration above to my very talented friend, Harriet Goren of Goren Judaica. Harriet is a superbly talented graphic designer. I've had the pleasure of enjoying her lovely and thoughtful design in many publications of our congregation. She has a unique way of combining biblical verses and graphics. Looking through her website is a treat and a calm oasis.

It's also a lot of fun. Besides prints to own and give as gifts there are terrific onesies for the new baby in your life.
Wishing all of Buttercupland a happy, lively and festive day. Please stop by tonight for a trip across centuries and space to the timeless wonder of Antarctica.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Cape Horn: Where Geography Class Comes to Life

It's sunrise at Cape Horn.
We're at the north edge of the Drake Passage, the strait between South America and Antarctica. It's the place where the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean meets the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean. I'm up before 6:00 a.m. I don't have a selfie to share, though a few exist. I jumped into the clothes I put out the night before, combed my wild-looking hair and plunked on a hat. I was not missing a minute of Cape Horn. I loved Geography in elementary school, though so much that I was taught has slipped into the back recess of my mind. This trip, however, brought it all back.
The sun has risen --  happily it's a clear day -- and you can see the very faint tint of pink in the sky.  It's also a very calm day at sea. I was warned by everyone I know who had sailed the Drake Passage, that I needed to get set for rough waters. This was one of the reasons I chose to make the trip in a very large cruise ship. But the strait that is known for being especially hazardous to sailors for centuries -- strong waves, currents, winds and icebergs -- was calm the day I sailed it. It was part of the Clipper Route, where clipper ships sailed with cargo around the world. 

This is our my farewell to Cape Horn as we leave for Antarctica. 

There is a monument to the many sailors who were lost in the waters around Cape Horn at San Leo Cove, Isla de Hornos, Chile. The Albatross Monument, built with international cooperation,  pays tribute to their bravery and lets them know they are not forgotten. This is an excerpt from the Memorial.

It wasn't all geography during our days at sea. There were lectures -- fabulous -- shows, new friends and yes, food. Every day had a different theme and one of my favorites was pie day at the lunch buffet. The top slice is key lime and apricot is next to it. The slice at the bottom is pear and nutella and though I enjoyed the first two, the pear and nutella was my favorite.  It took every ounce of willpower not to go back for a second slice.

I'm settling back into my routine at home. I've missed my yoga classes and gym sessions because of my broken shoulder. Happily, though the bone has healed and my doctor has cleared me to return to yoga. I also start physical therapy the week after next. I'm not especially looking forward to it, but I know it's necessary to get back my range of motion and strength in my arm.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Pink Saturday Goes to Montevideo

My view of Montevideo, Uruguay from the deck of our ship. After some very quick rain, I had a sunny day to enjoy Montevideo.

Montevideo was the last stop on our trip. There were many formal tours offered, but after spending hours in buses and boats on penguin expeditions I just wanted to enjoy my day in Montevideo. I wanted to walk, to look at stores and street art and drink iced coffee. I'd been a tourist in the varied ports the ship had stopped in and during my stop in Montevideo I simply wanted to be a visitor, and I had a wonderful time doing just that. 
Most ports had relatively long walks/rides to the center of town, but the pier here had easy access to the city, which was a very welcome change. 

Welcome to Uruguay!

I enjoyed iced coffee and excellent wifi at this very pleasant cafĂ©. I had a seat in front of a fan and by the window. I kept cool and watched the world go by.

A rare selfie -- sort of -- in a bakery window.

This cutie greeted me at one of the souvenir stores in the neighborhood near the pier. The flag of Uruguay is on the right.

I enjoyed the murals in the area. This one is my favorite.

I'm still deleting and sorting both penguin pictures and those of Antarctica. My resolution for my next trip is to delete photographs every day. Penguins are definitely on the schedule for a post this week. I hope you've enjoyed our Pink Saturday visit to Montevideo.
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a great week!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Welcome to the End of the World

From one end of Argentina to the other. La Quiaca is in the north, at the crossing to Bolivia. I can't take any credit for knowing this without having made a quick trip to GoogleLand a minute ago.  
I spent an hour this afternoon going through my photographs of Ushaia, one of the two most southernmost cities in South America. It sits on the Beagle Channel. The Straits of Magellan are to the north and to the south the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet. It's everything you were taught in elementary school geography, and most likely have forgotten. I know I did. One thing I wasn't taught was that the end of the earth -- el fin del mundo -- was astoundingly beautiful.
I'm not a morning person, but we were encouraged by the ship's staff to make sure to get up early and see the sunrise. I can't remember the last time I woke for the sunrise, but I didn't want to miss a minute that might be memorable, and I joined the early risers on the deck. The weather forecast wasn't optimistic, but it turned to be a beautiful and clear day and my reward was this sunrise.
The sun has risen and we were given the gift of sunshine.

It's difficult to choose what activities will maximize my time when I have one day -- actually a little less than a full day -- to see a place I've come thousands of miles to visit. I chose a boat trip to a penguin rookery -- a place where penguins hatch their eggs and raise their young. I have many penguin pictures from my trip, but this is one of my favorites. I was pleased I was able to capture the sea bird in flight on the left and the mountains in the background.

When I think back on my visit to Ushaia three things stand out. The first is the beauty of the area, mountains, sea and sky. The second is seeing penguins for the first time and the third is Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. I think this last is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. I am a fan of lighthouses, but this one is incomparable.

My view as the boat returned to Ushaia via the Beagle Channel. After our return I visited Ushaia and enjoyed an ice cream cone -- we had a sixty degree day -- and spent time perusing lots of penguin bookmarks, t-shirts and souvenirs to take home. It was hard to resist and a few penguin bookmarks did come back to New York with me.  
 I am frequently asked why I like to travel. I realize the answer, "Because I do." isn't a very satisfactory answer. But looking at these pictures gives me the words to answer that question. Sometimes I need to find the beauty/the mystery at the end of the world.
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!