Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 153: Orchids and Bromeliads, and a grasshopper, in Mexico

Our first night in Mexico, we ate in one of the buffet areas. Delfonso, our waiter, seemed to like talking with Dianna, helping her with her Spanish. Then he took a palm leaf, shredded it into several sections, and within about two minutes, fashioned a grasshopper for Dianna!

These flowers were in Xcaret, an ecopark in Mexico along the Yucatan penninsula. Xcaret has been described as "Mexico's answer to Disney," but is a very nature-oriented kind of park. There's one major area of the park devoted to orchids and bromeliads. This was probably the major time that I missed my macro lens, but I also knew that getting Brian and Dianna to patiently wait while I focused with a macro lens, and a tripod, would have been beyond foolish. So these beauties were shot in just the very basic RAW, and auto mode. My mother would have absolutely adored this collection.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Day 152: Ah, yes, Tequilla in a Pool in Mexico

By the time we got to Mexico, the three of us were quite exhausted, physically and emotionally, and very ready for. . . "festivities". . . . Brian had just graduated from U. of Missouri, and with this high came the distress of my dear SIL's congestive heart failure, hospitalization, and diagnosis of a need for a heart valve replacement. Brian had also gotten 2nd degree burns on his foot at his job.

Dianna and Brian are the middle two people at the bar

The day my husband and I left Grand Forks for Brian's graduation in Missouri, Dianna called, distraught, because her best friend had been found dead a few hours earlier from a previously undiagnosed heart problem. . . . Five days after Brian's graduation, we drove to Dianna's school, and picked her up for our week in Mexico. But first, she had to move all of her belongings out of her room, across campus, and down two flights of stairs into storage. We hadn't quite expected this task, and because of the events of the week, Dianna had not begun to pack anything until after we arrived. . . .

After emptying Dianna's dorm room, including carrying a futon by hand across the campus, as well as moving the various and sundry refrigerator, TV, etc, we stopped to eat at about 11 pm before checking into our hotel in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, Brian had to stay up all night working on a job application. At least he was up in time for our trip to the airport at 6am!

So, when we finally arrived at our resort in Mexico, the Barcelo Riviera Mayo, we were quite ready for R&R!

You won't believe what this 54, almost 55, year old middle-aged, over-weight, woman decided to do, with thoughts of "now or never" spurring me on! I always wanted to go to Mexico, and this trip far exceeded my expectations! I can't wait to share the pictures and details with you. And even a few survival tips.

Thank you, everyone, for comments over the last several days on the graduation pictures. It's really a nice feature of blogger, being able to schedule posts in advance. And, thank you for your concern about my sister-in-law, and about Dianna in her grieving. My sister-in-law, Barb, had her valve replacement surgery yesterday. The aortic valve is suppose to be tricuspid (3 flaps); it turns out hers only had one, and her surgeon said he'd only seen this once before in his career. (It's not usual a good sign when physicians find your medical problems "interesting.")

Now, here's my nagging advice to all of you: Women REALLY DON'T experience heart problems like men do. If you find yourself short of breath and much more fatigued than usual, or with an odd, persistent cough, don't just write if off as "I'm out of shape," or , "must be an allergy." We women are way too stoic, way too often, which is why the fatality rate is much greater for women with heart problems than for men.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 151 The Chicago Relatives

. . . and our rendezvous outside the University of Missouri arena, where the School of Journalism held its graduation ceremony.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Day 147 Barb's arm

A woman with an unbeatable attitude! Here's Barb, displaying her souvenirs from Missouri and her bruising experiences.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day146 Travelin' in Style

My sister MaryAnn, husband, Bill, and two children traveled to Missouri from Chicago for Brian's graduation.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 145 Graduation Uniforms

And just to add more excitement to the graduation, there was a gas leak. The fire department stood "in formation" and directed us all away from the quadrangle for awhile.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 143 Brotherly Love

My super sweet niece and nephew. Note the assistance provided by little brother to big sis so she can remain wired and plugged-in.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 142 Graduation Re-enactment

Brian graciously re-enacted graduation for Robert and Barb in the hospital, since they were unable to attend it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 141 Some Graduation Pictures

Thank you, everyone, for all your kind words yesterday! It really means a lot to me.
Here are 3 more photos from Brian's graduation. His graduation actually involved 2 ceremonies, and the 2nd day was a graduation from the Honors College. The campus has these really cool pillars that provide the most wonderful background for graduation ceremonies.

I'm going to try and schedule to post 8 days worth of photos that will show up on my blog while I'm gone. So, if you feel like stopping by and checking them out, please do so! I'll have fun checking out everyone's photos once I get back.

Day 140: The Graduate

Thank you for the well wishes, and sorry for the cryptic posts the last couple of days. I intended to post a clue (an obvious clue) about the location of the cool trip we have planned, but life intercepted. . . .

First, here are a few photos of Brian graduating at U of Missouri from the School of Journalism with a minor in Strategic Communication. Proud parents and the happy guy:

Over the next couple of days, I'll have more photos of the happy part of this trip to Missouri . . .

The very rough part of this weekend was that my sister in law, Barb, and her husband, shared a room with us at the hotel. They drove up from Texas, and within hours of our getting together, it was clear that Barb's cough was much more serious than just "congestion." She went to the hospital ER, was hospitalized with heart failure, and after several days of tests, it was determined that she needed an aortic valve replacement. They weren't sure whether they could stabilize her condition enough that she could return to Texas for the procedure. Happily, she was able to leave on Saturday, slept well that night, and was able to drive back to Texas. She needs to continue with treatment with medications to be strong enough for the surgery. I'll post some pictures in a day or two of our "re-enactment" of Brian's graduation for her.

An even more difficult, and tragic, part of the trip occurred about 2 hours before we left to drive to Missouri. My daughter is a college sophomore in Minnesota and called, distraught, because her best friend at the school had just be found dead in her room, apparently from natural causes. None of us know how to wrap our minds around the idea that such a thing can happen to such an apparently healthy, young person. Please pray for Veronica's family and friends.

I had intended to leave the clue that we are going to Mexico now for a week! My son and daughter and I are going. My oldest son cannot come with us (the Navy's possessive that way), and my husband just could not get his schedule coordinated with us, so three of us planned this adventure. My daughter has had to reschedule her 4 final exams, and whether she can quite enjoy this trip now is uncertain.

And we also have to drastically shift more of our plans for the trip because my son managed to burn his foot with 3rd degree burns from water from the steam table at his place of work. Somehow, putting flippers on his foot, or getting sand in it, or walking in water, may not be the best plan of action just now. He'll see a doctor again tomorrow, and I doubt that my son will like what he hears about this. . .

So, tomorrow I'm going to post photos, and schedule the posts to appear during the week that I'm gone. I won't be able to say "I'm up!", but maybe one of you can say this for me during the week if you happen to check out my blog posts while I'm gone! I'm hoping I'll have more cool photos of exotic things when I get back! . . . and if you've read this far today, thanks for listening/reading!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day 139: Making the Best of a Bad Situation

MaryAnn and Doug in the hospital lobby, where my sweet, sweet, sister-in-law, Barb had to be hospitalized. Barb and my brother Robert drove up from Texas to Columbia, MO, for Brian's graduation.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 138 Plans Awry

Some times the best laid plans of mice and men just don't turn out the way you hoped. We've had a few curve balls thrown at us this week . . . and we're still waiting to see how things turn out.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 137: A Camera Bag

I got sick of my ugly brown camera bag and decided to try my hand at "creating" one. This is an inexpensive purse from Target. I liked that it was fairly shallow, but would have a little bit of width as well, and could "tuck" under my arm rather than have a long shoulder strap.

At the fabric store, I bought a piece of white foam, and about 18" of industrial velcro. I cut the white foam to sit inside the purse, about 6" from the top on each of the sides. I cut out 4 strips of the velcro. I pulled the two inserts (gray in this photo) out of an old camera bag, and attached them with the velcro to the sides of the white foam, slightly off-center. It would probably be clearer if I could take a photo with my camera in the bag. . . . but then I couldn't take the picture! The camera would sit roughly where the pink phone is. Just picture the inside of most camera bags, and then a little bit of foam, velcro, and the insert of an old bag can pretty much re-create a "house" for your camera in whatever bag you'd like! This isn't the way I'd want to transport my camera if I was going someplace where it might get lots of rough treatment, but it works quite well for daily use, especially if I'm only bring one lens with me somewhere.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day 136: A Few More Primroses

I'm just enjoying these colors so much that I had to post a few more of these.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day 135 Sweet Anticipation

Part of the pleasure of a trip is the sweet anticipation, and the preparations for it. . .

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day 133 Mother's Day Begonia

I hope everyone got to celebrate mother's day in a way that felt satisfying and meaningful, as daughters (or sons) or mothers.

I got to pick out this really pretty begonia for Mother's Day, and coincidentally, the name of the variety is "Angela," so how could I resist it. Do you have a preference among these 3 shots? I used my 105 mm 2.0 lens. I like this begonia so much that I may need to take more photos of it, slightly further back, so I can crop it at a good size for a header for my blog. I think my header is long overdue for a make-over!

f/11; 1/160

f/32; 1/25

f/5.6; exp 1/800

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Day 132 More tulips

I know, I know, you've all probably seen tons of flowers and tulips already, but us poor North Dakotans. . . these are our first glimpses of blooming flowers. Today, these buds began to open, even though they were covered in snow today! But they did it anyway!

Fortunately, by noon the snow had melted. I'm hoping we won't see anymore tomorrow.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Day 131 Tulip Buds

This last photo is a sketch image from the first photo. I followed the instructions at kimikreations "homework."