Monday, July 30, 2018

Let's Go Fly a Kite

We Dreamers rode our bikes to the Berkeley Kite Fest. The morning was a bit chilly, but the fog lifted and it was a perfect day. The kites are almost as magnificent as hot air balloons. Some are huge! We took a few lessons with stunt kites and were hooked.

Mr. Dreamy launches a stunt kite

The whimsical owls were "flying" almost all day
Kites of every size and shape were represented

The festival has free kites that kids can color and fly. This video was taken early in the day before a zillion kids' kites were in the air!

One of the neatest things about the Kite Fest is that my 1st cousin, once removed (my cousin's son... in case you don't understand the 'removed' thing either!) is a professional kite flyer, and we had the opportunity to meet him.

His name is John Barresi. I attempted to make a sketch of him in action. He is the man calling the shots, closest to the camera in my video, below. He is an amazing guy. He bought his first kite at this very festival 26 years ago... and has turned his passion into a career.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park is just a few miles from my California house. I knew it was there, but just had not taken the time to stop in. A few weeks ago I took care of that and went to the Visitor Center with the "other" grandmother and her sister, Kim.

I am so glad that I did visit, and I want to go back to take in things I didn't get to digest fully on my first visit.

Oh, and, yeah... it might be nice to take some pictures!

Sure, I remember reading about Rosie the Riveter in my history books. But evidently I totally missed the boat, but then again,  I'm sure I didn't pay close attention to the details! Maybe I was strictly at a literal level at that point in my life... or maybe it is just that I never did well in history. I felt mildly sorry that Rosie was/is just a symbol of the involvement of women in war efforts at home, and that she wasn't a specific person. I wanted to "meet" Rosie...

The Visitor's Center has many excellent displays and several wonderful movies. As a new resident in the Richmond, CA area, I loved seeing pictures of my new city from way back when. This was a "happening place"! During World War II, when manufacturing was at its peak, Richmond had a population of over 130,000. Today the population is a mere 100,000. The Rosie the Riveter Visitor Center is located in one of the ship yards, and next to the Ford Assembly Plant. These preserved historic sites are surrounded by current industrial concerns, as is our new home!

My house is located at the small blue flag on the left, and Rosie the Riveter visitor center is marked by the red flag. All of the "grey" area surrounding the port is industrial property. I am fortunate in that my house is separated from the industry by a huge hill. We are not aware of any of the industry in our back yard!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Birthday Bash

I can't believe that our grand baby is three years old! On one hand, she hardly seems to have been on this earth very long at all... and on the other hand, she seems to have been here forever!!

Our son and daughter-in-law invited us to Alexis' third Birthday party.... and then mentioned that maybe they could use some help with the Birthday cake! OK... I can help. I used to enjoy making themed B-day cakes for my kids.

Alexis does not watch TV (they don't have one)... but she has been allowed to watch Puffin Rock shows on the computer, an animated show originating in Ireland. So... Grammy CiCi looked at pictures from Puffin Rock and planned how she could make a cake... and cup cakes... that were Puffin Rock themed:

Then I checked the online RSVP's... 54 people were coming. 54?!!! You MUST be kidding!!

We thought they were crazy!

My son had sent me a link to an applesauce cake recipe he thought would be good. I went to the store and bought the ingredients.... then I went back to the store again to buy the applesauce I forgot on the first trip. Evidently... applesauce is a key ingredient of an applesauce cake!!

One batch of the recipe made... one 9" round cake... or 15 cupcakes. I baked 5 batches of the recipe... two for the cake and three for cupcakes. Oh, and I made another trip to the grocery store for more butter. Ugh!

Then I began icing the cake... using a cream cheese icing. The "Mr." made another trip to the store for more powdered sugar. I was less than organized!

I forgot how long it took to making icing, color it and squish it out of a decorating bag. I became very frustrated. The cupcakes weren't going to happen... not as I imagined them. But, a quick fix was to color the icing and make a rainbow... it's all part of "Puffin Rock".

Image from the Internet
The party was being held in a small park just down the street from our son's house. The weather was perfect. The bounce house was delivered and set up and people began arriving. There were toddlers and babies and kids all around. The moms and dads stayed, too. Pizza arrived. Many, many pizzas!

Then we brought out the cake(s). The party goers enjoyed the cake. I received many complements on the applesauce cake itself. After three hours, folks began to leave and the party wound down. The party did not meet our expectations of a disaster waiting to happen. Everyone had a great time. There were only a few tears from minor bumps or affronts. There was one scuffle over who should have a certain stick. And there was only one toddler who went home in wet pants! It was a phenomenal day!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Just Like Kids

I saw it first.

No you dint.

Well, I got to it first.

Yeah, but you run pastted the clump of grass. 
I flushed the turkey out.

No... I did!

I chased after it fastest than anything.

Did not.

Did too.

Sometimes we think the dogs are like kids, arguing about who gets the front seat, or who gets to drink first, or who gets to go out the door first. So, this conversation may really have gone on between Gypsy and Tucker. 

On my morning walks with the dogs we often come upon turkeys. One day a Tom fanned out his feathers to try to intimidate us. Most often the turkeys turn and go away from us. The dogs are really curious. They tug on their leashes and want to go after the turkeys in the worst way.

Recently the gate into a large open area that once housed some sort of huge industrial tank, was open. I figured this might be a safe place to let the dogs off their leashes. Safe for the dogs, perhaps. But it certainly put Mama turkey's life in peril! 

The huge tank is on the right in this historical picture of the bay side of Point Richmond.
The area where the tank stood is now an open field.
The dogs came upon her in a clump of grass. She flew out, with two dogs in mad pursuit, not even thinking of paying attention to my calls to come. Tucker gave up first, returning to the clump of grasses. Oh no! He was walking away with an egg in his mouth. He put the egg down and I was able to keep him away. I replaced the egg using some dried grass to pick I up.

I don't know if Mama will accept the egg with a bit of dog slobber on it!

I guess we won't be enjoying off-leash time in the tank field in the near future!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Euglossa dilemma

Here is one last post written in April and recently discovered....

The other morning I noticed movement among the flowers of my giant leaf Begonia. I became intrigued by the shimmer of light coming from what looked like a green bee. A very shiny, green bee.

Luckily I was able to snap a picture of the insect:

A quick Google search yielded the information that I had spotted a Green Orchard Bee, also known as Euglossa dilemma. What an interesting scientific name! 

Picture from the Internet
The bee first appeared in southern Florida in 2003. It was thought that the insect was a Central American species. However, further study shows that it exhibits slight differences and thus was a new species, a "cryptic species". Thus it seems the insect created a puzzle... and thus its name!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Trapper Nelson

Here is another post from March that never made it onto the blog.

I wish I could have met this guy. He sounds like he was quite the character! Nelson (Vince Nostokovich) was known as the Tarzan of the Loxahatchee River in Florida, or the "Wildman of the Loxahatchee".

After a close call with the law when he was in his early 20's  Trapper came upon a clearing along the banks of this winding, narrow river.

There was a lean-to, but no one seemed to be living there. So, Nelson moved in and eventually purchased this property and 1000 acres around the  original site.

 Trapper constructed a very rustic cabin.

Later Nelson built a larger cabin and rented his original cabin for $8 a night.

When the Park service re-chinked the fireplace they found over $1000 in coins. Evidently Trapper would "deposit" his money in a void in the fireplace.

Trapper prepared food for his overnight guests. His meals were cooked outdoors, and often were comprised of Gopher Tortoise (kept in the pen) and tropical fruits.

Trappers homestead became a curiosity for locals and Florida visitors in the 40's and 50's. He became a Florida tourist attraction and visitors would come by boat, just as we did. Trapper created a small zoo with native animals, including alligators. He also sold plants and fruit.

Nelson would entertain visitors wrestling Stumpy, the alligator.

As Nelson's notoriety grew the State began to intervene, imposing restrictions and requiring "upgrades". Nelson had to provided a public restroom. The original still stands today. The docent insured that no one would consider using the facility by commenting in an off-hand way that we should be cautious and looks for snakes if we went inside, as they enjoy the coolness of the concrete floors. 

In order to provide water for the restrooms Nelson and to dig a well. This is his well and pump house.

Government regulations and red tape eventually led Nelson to shut down his operation. It wasn't worth the hassle. 

Nelson was found shot in the heart. Controversy still surrounds his death, which was ruled a suicide. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Koreshan Unity

When I visited the Shaker village in New Hampshire I was intrigued by the similarities and differences between the Shakers and the Korseshan Unity community. As I wrote the entry about the Shakers, I realized I never posted my entry on Koreshan. So I will rectify that oversight. Here is a post that was originally written in March this year.

We Dreamers visited the Koreshan State Park in Estero, FL. The park includes buildings from the Koreshan Unity community, a utopian society founded by Cyrus Teed in the 1870's in New York. Teed established a few communities and garnered followers in Chicago and other northern states, as well as a small group in San Francisco, before establishing the "New Jerusalem" in Estero. The community flourished in the early 1900's. Teed's vision was to build a city of 10 million people. He had an elaborate plan, with a very structured governance. However, the unity declined following his death in 1908. The last to join the society in 1940 was a German woman escaping Nazi persecution. In pictures of the society I noticed there were a lot of women and children. A park docent explained that this society, like other communal living arrangements, offered a promise of lifetime care in exchange for all of one's goods and money. In an era where widowed women or unwed mothers had few opportunities to support themselves and their children, a commune was a haven of succor.
The surviving buildings and land were given to the state by this last surviving woman.

Cyrus Teed lived in a large frame house. This is his sitting room. Other rooms in his home served as classrooms. Education was valued in the community.

This building was called the Planetary Court. It was centrally located and housed 8 women with key positions in the community. The only man in the house, Henry Silverfriend, brother of one of the women, lived in the cupola and served as "Watcher of the House" or "Protector of the Women". He was also the town clerk. 
Picture from the Internet
Arts were an important part of the society. The Koreshans were known to produce elaborate plays and those outside the community would come see the entertainment in the arts building. The building is still used for concerts and community theater performances.

Children in costume. Picture from the Internet.
Teed espoused the position that the stars and sun existed in a central orb, and the planets were on the inside of a rotating sphere surrounding the stars, planets and sun.

 Teed set out to prove his "Cellular Cosmogony" theory by purporting to measure the concave nature of the earth with an elaborate structure of large beams. This is a model of his measurement device.

Teed's vision for "New Jerusalem" was pictured in this painted map. The central core of the community would included the property that was used in creating the utopian community in Estero. Large streets would radiate out to huge apartment style homes and business buildings. 

The Koreshan flag, which still hangs in the art building today, reflects Teed's design for his utopia.

I was intrigued by our visit. There is so much more to learn and understand about this community and their beliefs.

Let's Go Fly a Kite

We Dreamers rode our bikes to the Berkeley Kite Fest. The morning was a bit chilly, but the fog lifted and it was a perfect day. The kites a...