Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Whew! I finally found my attachment so I could upload pics from my new Nikon.
Here's a fabulous secret - no one in Hawaii knows about this adventurous lava tube spelunking tour. After arriving in Hawaii and finally unpacking at 3:30 a.m. Little Rock time, I had a couple of glasses of wine in the lounge and slept soundly before my trek to Kilauea in the morning. Driving down the highway in my rental Chevy Malibu listening to island tunes on one of three local radio stations was liberating. I was a little early (as usual) for the 11:00 tour, so I stopped along the way to take in scenes like the one on the left. Breathtaking, right?
I was a little worried about finding the tour base, but arrived without trouble 15 minutes early. Plenty of time to chat with the movie star family that was responsible for leading the tour - tall, dark, handsome Hawaiians - a father, two sons, and a daughter. Mark, Mark, Hector *swoon,* and Selena. Since the Philadelphian manager of a team of financial advisers and his wife were hopelessly lost, eventually requiring Selena to find them in her pickup truck and lead them to the site, I got to know the locals well. I was especially excited when Hector volunteered to help me plan the rest of my day - pulled out my map and pulled up a chair (close) to plot my quest for lava.
Hector left to lead the basic tour, leaving the two Marks, the other couple, and I to gear up in our hardhats, hand-held giant flashlights, gloves, and knee pads. We hiked to the entrance of the cave, and climbed down a forty foot ladder to enter.
Here is what the entrance looked like (sideways). Taking pictures was pretty difficult with the gloves and holding the flashlight, but I got a few. I was surprised at how strenuous the tour was. Within about 15 minutes of the three hour trek my jeans and t-shirt were soaked in sweat. It seems that in the lava tubes, the roof caves in periodically, creating a mountain of rubble that requires surmounting prior to getting to the next leg of the tour. At times we would be climbing through mountains in caverns, at others we would be shimmying through small crevices.
The most surprising thing about the lava tubes was the color of the formations. Being from Arkansas, I am used to cavern delicacies - namely soda straws, stalactites, and stalagmites - looking mostly brown and yellow in the light from the installed floodlights. Here, there were no installed floodlights. In fact, I'm not sure our tour guides had been into the caverns more than a couple of times. They kept saying things like, "Isn't this cool?" and "Let's go here, I don't think I've ever been here before." I became slightly nervous but was reassured when the dad told me that no roofs had caved in during the last big earthquake, despite the fact that half of our flashlights were dead and abandoned within an hour and the dad and son were arguing over what types of batteries they should have bought.
Here in the lava tubes, everything was gunmetal grey and sparkly silver. A wonderland of color. Mr. financial advisor manager said, "This looks like a great place for an ATV chase scene in a movie."
I've been scuba diving, spelunking, and mountain climbing, but this was like nothing I've ever seen before.
I met a ton of pathologists on my trip - from L.A., Virginia, etc. Even the one who has been attending this conference for 17 years had never heard of these lava tubes. My pal from L.A. actively sought the tour out with the multitudes of tour guides in the lobby, frustratingly to no avail. She told me she finally learned that they are keeping it a secret so it remains pristine. The other couple found out about it in the same guide as me - Fodor's.
Needless to say, I felt special for having the chance to experience the surroundings and micro climate. And sore as hell the next day during lectures. More about my afternoon quest for lava in future installments.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
To my almost eight year old daughter, Cecelia. I'm going to try to outlast her tonight so I can decorate the house - but she burns the midnight oil with books, so it's going to be tough.
I'm planning to get the kids up early for breakfast and take them out for donuts for a treat. We have never done donuts for breakfast, but she's been exposed to them at school, so she already has her two favorites - chocolate and glazed. Not that I'm opposed to donuts, I've just never liked them, myself. Luckily I think they have egg and cheese biscuits.
Tonight we celebrated in my new bed. I spent hours trying out every mattress in town in December and January before I finally made the purchase. It is a Tempur-Pedic. They sent out a delivery team last week and the electrical team was at my house until nearly 9:00 last night hooking up the Prodigy electronic base. One guy said, "I've never seen a model like this! This must be the top of the line. Your bed is like the Jetsons."
I'm pretty crazy about all things created to protect my back - when it is out of whack I'm not too happy. The first thing I bought with my CME money three years ago was a fancy chair for my scope and then a new scope with an adjustable headpiece. Some people buy jewelry, cars, or clothes when they get their first bonus after a divorce. My ex bought a Mustang convertible. I bought a new bed.
It was too late last night to play with the remote, so tonight I promised the kids after dinner and bath we would hit the new bed. We cranked up the head, raised the foot to top levels, and upped the vibrate mode to full power. The kids laughed while I hummed - it sounded like I was talking into a fan. Then they took turns somersaulting off of the foot and dancing, while I rested on the side unaffected by all the activity (which was a lot more than my bed had seen in . . . never mind. TMI.). It really is like the commercial with the wine glass sitting undisturbed while someone is tossing and turning on the other side.
The remote even has a clock and alarm - you can wake up in vibrate mode (kinky!) or alarm mode. I wonder if that means my whole bed will vibrate me awake. Kind of like my pager, only much bigger. Maybe just the remote vibrates. Guess I'll find out in the morning. It's set for 5:00 a.m.
Cecelia wants to re-decorate her room for her birthday. Since I was planning to do that anyway, it works out well for both of us. We've been picking out beds, bedspreads, and paint colors all week. She has been actively de-cluttering her room and drawers every evening (finally! At 8! I knew my neuroses would surface in her eventually without my prompting if I was just patient) - her room looks fabulous. Just in time for her third of four birthday parties this Saturday (she had two with her dad last weekend). I think she is enjoying one of the fruits of divorce - double the holiday and birthday celebrations.
I think the page-turning has stopped. Time to decorate.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
If you haven't yet guessed who helped me with my blog by looking at the addition to my admin on the top right corner, it is the Duchess of Cookies, a.k.a. DC. The designer formerly known as Prince. I mean Cat Stevens. Nope, Domestically Challenged. That's it. You can check her blog out here if you didn't already when I linked to it in a recent post.
When she agreed to take me on as a charity case a few weeks back, she had all these intelligent questions about me as a person and my interests which left me flummoxed. I began to google around and sent her random pics throughout the weeks. I was a little obsessed with lava, what with my upcoming trip to Hawaii, but we weren't able to make that work. Another site I am addicted to is the Nikon Small World Contest winners. If you've never visited that site, I suggest you check it out here. Scientist or no, you will have to agree it boasts some of the most amazing darkfield microscopy, brightfield microscopy, and polarized microscopy pics imaginable. I love to make my daughter try to pick her favorite (she can't). The one of many I sent that she converted to wallpaper is Roland O. Marsh's 1987 4th place winner - a 50x darkfield image of an Obelia medusa. It is a simple aquatic marine organism in the class Hydrozoa found in oceans throughout the world. Of the different wallpapers DC eventually created and sent for me to choose from, my kids and I were unanimous on this one.
I think I also mentioned somewhere in an e-mail way back that I like toe tags? DC took that idea and not only ran with it, she broke the sound barrier, don't you agree?
Thanks again, DC!!!
Friday, March 4, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
One of my New Year's Resolutions was to redesign my blog (wait, wasn't that last year? Oh well, NY resolutions do have a way of haunting us year after year). This week, in contrast to most NY resolutions, this one is on the brink of being realized. I engaged a friend who understands fancy computer words like "HTML" and "code."
After weeks and weeks of grueling work - well, to be honest, my lead designer did have a two week visit from her in-laws and then I had to plan a trip to Hawaii, so we've been mostly just e-mailing pics and joking and sharing ideas. But this week, we - well, she mainly, I'm the cheerleader at this point - have been getting scirrhous. I mean serous. Oops - no - serious! Blah! Call weeks warp the mind. Forgive any craziness over the next few days while it is under construction.
Stay tuned for sheer greatness. I got a sneak peek of the layout minus finishing touches, and I nearly swooned out of my chair. I can take very little credit - only the flaws (if you can find any) belong to me.
Full disclosure of my partner in crime is forthcoming.