French and Chinese

When my husband took me to Paris I went alone into a linen shop to try to buy us some washcloths while Bob went to a different shop. I could not make the men in there understand what I was shopping for. I had extremely limited French in my memory bank. Finally my husband joined me in the shop. He explained to them in his many years of French lessons what we needed. He has laughed every since at my pantomimes in that shop. When we checked into our accommodations, the desk clerk tried his best every morning to get me to greet him with Bonjour! or other phrases. From the time I exited the shop, I was French language numb (and dumb). Could not pull out a single expression I might have known. Using public transportation I realized I could not determine what they were advertising AT ALL. I just shut down.

Now I am learning the Chinese game Mahjong online. I saw women playing it in a Satellite Coffee shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When I recently got bored with Scrabble I decided to try it for free. Turns out it is a matching game.

The challenge in my mind comes in trying to name the tiles I am matching. My mother used to use La Choy chinese canned foods and we especially liked the fried noodles. So I call one tile green noodles!

Do you remember these?

Then there are red noodle piles with what I call Running man, North, South, East, and West. There are tiles like dominoes only marked with six logs, or dots or dashes. Even six logs bent in their stacks. The same with two, three, etc. One game has owls. The one on my iPad looks like peacocks or phoenix.

There is a banner with an arrow. An arrangement of circles with crank handle up or crank handle down. Season and flower symbols. I am probably not even close to their original meaning, but hey! a girl has to do what a girl has to do.

I have no idea how the women gathered in that coffee shop were playing it. The online version has the tiles in differing patterns and layers. Fun game! and the levels are challenging. Give it a try.

Perhaps I ought to write to that hotel manager/desk clerk and let him know my made up language for Chinese! Nawh, probably not!


My Blogger Friend Mike

Mike Powell publishes a wonderful journey of his photographic life at the address below. Check him out with the link below for one example.

American Lady

Recently I heard this music on our classical station and I immediately thought of his blog. He gets amazing photos of dragonflies, birds and other nature subjects that remind me to stop and look around me. Without knowing the title it reminded me of some of the chases Mike has likely had through the swampish park where he captures many of his photos. Turn up your volume as the first few moments begin very softly. Only 4 minutes but fun!

If you go to his WordPress blog you can scroll through his entries and I think you will see what I mean! I can no longer see a dragonfly and not think of Michael Q. Powell! Whether he is chasing another species of dragonfly, an Osprey, Great Blue Heron or an Eagle he depicts a world that few of us appreciate being as suburban bound as we usually are.

Start looking around you and enjoy!


Do you remember the old commercial jingle for margarine, “Everything’s better with Blue Bonnet on it!” We found that was true when we toured Texas. We had never seen blooming Bluebonnets. Before we left Ohio I was so excited when I found out we would arrive there in the perfect window of time to see them bloom! And that we did!

At this point we were uncertain what we were seeing.

I was familiar with Virginia Bluebells as seen below. The bluebells also grow in Ohio, but not Bluebonnets as far as I know. We were constantly mixing up the names.

So Bluebonnets are actually closer to purple in the overgrown yard above. But when we got closer they were seriously dark blue!

We drove 35 miles south from Dallas to a tiny place called Ennis, population about 18,500. Not much to Ennis but it is famous for a Kolache Depot Bakery shop in the gas station! Of course, we had to sample their wares! Tasty 🙂 We followed the Ennis Y’all app for a map of attractions. Some fields were easier to find than others. The long horn steer were the hardest to find. Here are Bluebonnets with Apache Paintbrush.

Don’t know of any place in Ohio where you can see wildflowers growing WITH cactus!

And leaving the best for last, here are two of my very talented husband’s photos of the steer and the bluebonnets!

Yeah baby! Those are some long horns!
Hanging right above my computer!

Some Things Strike Me As Amusing

I watched a man at the ATM. He got an ATM slip but walked away with no cash. A few moments later when he entered the bank I noticed his shirt said “Denier.”

In the city of Columbus, Ohio there are no U turns allowed. My husband loves making U turns! He was not enjoying driving there. And then I saw a sign that said “Traffic Calming Ahead.” Well, that was just what we needed right then!

Turns it out that message actually means driver should be aware of a “change in the ‘geometry’ in the road surface.” What? I never did understand geometry!!

I read some place that you should explore FTD before age 60? What?? My mother worked for years in a flower shop and FTD stood for Florists’ Transworld Delivery. Now FTD is better recognized as ” Short for frontotemporal degeneration, FTD is the most common form of dementia for people under age 60 (young onset). FTD is frequently misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, depression, Parkinson’s disease, or a psychiatric condition.” A far cry from roses!

One more bank story. My husband likes to count out brand new dollar bills that are in sequential order into the hand of a grandchild celebrating a birthday. He also likes to make a money roll of singles for each grandchild as a Christmas gift. Lately he has had difficulty getting the bank to sell him a new stack of dollars, even at the larger downtown location. His bank now has a fancy ATM that will dispense your cash in whatever denomination equals your available cash as requested. In order words if you ask for $37.00 you can request one $20, two $5s and seven $1s. He began noticing that the $1s that were dispensed were mostly spanking new and in sequential order! Oh what a happy man he was that day! Guess how many stops we will be making at the ATM close to the CHristmas holiday?!

Dallas Museum of Art and City Street Corner

From Pioneer Plaza we drove over to the art museum. We are captured every time someone says Impressionists. Gotta go see what we might be missing. Not really impressed about that part of their collection, but did see a few things that I liked. There was a landscape that did an amazing job of capturing the light. Rather mesmerizing.

And there was this plaster sculpture photographed below. I am an Associate at an Episcopal Convent. Twice a year they offer us a silent retreat. I find it refreshing and invigorating to my spiritual life when I can actually get quiet and stay in that listening mode for a few hours. I had to send this image to them. I love it! It was designed originally for funerary purposes. But I loved it for a reminder to keep silence.

To me the silence at the Convent brings LIFE

When we stepped outside of the museum another figure caught my eye. It was so unusual and the background so noisy and complicated! We have had fun researching the work.

I sensed the man was in contemplation or meditation and with the crane, skyscrapers, stop light and traffic below that effort at contemplation would be, as are most efforts at contemplation, challenging. It is actually part of the Nasher Sculpture Center, across the street from the Dallas Museum of Art. The title is La Llarga Nit , which means the long night from the poem Ausias March to Vicent Adres Estelle .

The sculptor is Jaume Plensa. You Tube says “According to the artist, this work was inspired by Catalan poet Vicent AndrĂ©s EstellĂ©s, who wrote that it is the responsibility of the poet to watch out for the whole community. “

Another site says ” Throughout his career as a sculptor, Jaume Plensa (Barcelona, 1955) has drawn on spirituality, the body and collective memory as the primary sources which tie together his visual artwork. ” He has works all over the world and has done many versions of the sculpture we saw. Bob wants to see one of the ones that light up. I found the images below online.

So as I researched this blog I scrolled through some of the other works by James Plense. Something looked familiar about one of his other works. Voila! Here is a photo I snapped from the car as we were at a stoplight in Seattle, Washington.

It is called the Meeting of the Minds, Mirror and located outside the Allen Institute for Brain Science, 615 Westlake Avenue North. I had no idea at the time what the building was called or represented.

Even this blogger learns new things when she researches what she is trying to say and show!


Accustomed to seeing Angus cattle, as we drove towards Dallas, we now saw Brahman steer in some fields and even longhorns! We began the day going to the Pioneer Plaza to see the Cattle Drive statues. (Reminded me of the Land Run of 1889 sculptures by Paul Moore in Oklahoma.) This is the second most visited tourist site in Dallas. Each sculpture was created by Robert Summers of Glen Rose, Texas in 1992. They were cast at Eagle Bronze Foundry in Lander, Wyoming. There are 40 steer and 3 cowboys. There is a plan to add more cattle. The day we were there we actually saw 4 cowboys!

They say the steer were cast larger than life, but when we saw a live one it looked this large to me!

Somehow I only captured two of the cowboys. Go figure! Actually I discovered that we missed one that was off to one side, beyond a stone wall. First photo is from online and shows what we missed. The remainder are my photos.

I love how Robert Summers captured the movement of the horse!
Yes, you can actually walk among them 🙂

Now this is what we would call a “Stupidvisor.” Oh, I meant watching person. does not give a name to this man’s position. I wanted to call him the boss, watching the others work.

Was he resting, overseeing or just watching? Cattle drive positions do not include him. His equipment right down to his pistol were impressive.

And then we met cowboy #4! A young man who told us he used to herd cattle on horseback with his father in Mexico. Here is his photo as his girlfriend snapped his picture!

I was impressed that he could clamber up and down the statue without flinching.

And below, just beyond the park, what is said to be THE official horse of Texas!

Yeah, I know, out of focus!

You get the idea? Mobil, then Exxon Mobil Oil in Texas and beyond.

Odessa to Dallas April 13

When we woke in Odessa Texas we knew we had a long day of driving to reach Dallas by nightfall. We amused ourselves with the images we passed. The “oil grasshoppers” we saw were in many colors over the miles: white, beige, yellow, black, orange and black, blue and yellow, red and white.

In case you are unfamiliar with this breed of grasshopper!

There were many horses, also. We saw one group that was stunning with black manes and brown coats. There were five of these looking gorgeous under the trees on the edge of a green field , waiting for a dark, drippy rain cloud to pass over. We passed too quickly for me to get a photo.

We passed huge wind farms. They turbines looked like an invading alien army. The Stanton Wind Project contains 80 General Electric wind turbines with an estimated annual energy capability of 440 million kW hours.

In this area we also saw our first bluebonnets!

This for sale sign marked the house as overgrown. Look at the flowers out front though! We began seeing them in the highway median. At one point when the blue were mixing with the orange I made Bob stop so I could see what the orange flower was. Looking it up on line I learned the name. We wondered if Lady Bird Johnson had influence in getting these planted along the highways in her 1965 Highway Beautification Project?

There were also safety signs along the road with photos of a longhorn cow reading things like: “Text later …you herd me” and “I’ve got a beef with speeders.”

The Big Spring Refinery that “has the capacity of turning sweet and sour crude into highly refined products, from clean gasoline and petrochemical products to jet fuel and ultra-low-sulfur diesel – a cleaner, more-efficient fuel that offers an immediate answer to the concerns about greenhouse gas production and global warming.” Be that as it may, the place was eerily weird. flaming safety towers, acres of storage tanks, refinery plant after refining facility.

I saw one abandoned factory called the “Rogers Delinted Cottonseed Co.” Had never heard of that one. If I understand correctly, they processed cottonseed there using chemicals such as both sulfuric and hydrochloric acid, then neutralized the action of the acids with soda ash, lime or anhydrous ammonia. In 1984 the plant closed. In February, 2000 signs were posted warning of contamination and in 2002 the land received a hazard ranking system. In May, 2006 due to remediation actions the land was restricted for use of the property to commercial – industrial (non-residential). Yikes.

I would rather focus on the Bluebonnets!