Friday, February 27, 2009

Photo Finish Friday -- The End of the World

It's way off in the distance and you have to look through the ladder on the catamaran to see it. But if you look closely you'll see one of the main attractions in Beagle Channel, Ushuaia, Argentina. It's a lighthouse and it's billed as "The Lighthouse at the End of the World."
I have other photos of it. Certainly better ones that are more than a lonely post in the distance. But I loved the dark moodiness of this one. It emphasizes the end of the world without detracting all that much from the lighthouse.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Abundance Cheque Day

The new moon is upon us again and you know what that means.
Dig out your chequebooks. It's abundance cheque time.
The dark of the moon gets here at 6:35 MST. I've got 24 hours from that moment to write myself a cheque.
I've been really good at this for a few years now. It has served me well and with the economic downturn here for an unwelcome visit this is no time to stop.
I was away last month and didn't do it, though I did think about it. I could have faked a cheque, but was lazy.
If you need a reminder or are just learning about this now, the process is simple.
Take a cheque.
Make it out to yourself.
In the amount box write "Paid in Full."
In the amount line write "Paid In Full.
Omit the date.
Sign it "The Law of Abundance."
Put it away somewhere and forget about it until next month.
Please understand that abundance manifests itself in many ways. It might be money, job offers or more work, food, or anything else.
What I'm telling you is expand your thinking and do not restrict the Universe. It knows what it's doing whether we do or not.
Happy Abundance.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Gratitude Monday - More Penguins

Gentoo Penguins on the Falkland Islands.

It's been a few weeks now since my 4x4 adventure to see the penguins on the Falkland Islands.
It was a great day. Two groups of Gentoos in the morning followed by a visit to the Rockhoppers in the afternoon.
Along the way we got to see the sights of the Falkland Island. Wide-open spaces with room to breathe and think and be quiet amongst my thoughts.
I am grateful for the chance to visit there and see the Penguins and to experience the quiet. The wide, empty quiet away from the hurried pace of life here. Whether one participates in it or not it is still around us. There is no real escape from it at home.
It's easy to forget about the life we know here when you get to see sights such as these.
I am grateful for the chance to be there and take this photo of the Gentoos.
I will always carry the memory with me. Even as experiences fade from active memory they are still available and can be called up in those times when the pace is too fast, the assaults on the senses become too much, and when the demands on time are overwhelming. I can become still and remember.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Photo Finish Friday - Beagle Channel

An island in Beagle Channel outside of Usuaia, Argentina.

We spent a lovely morning on a catamaran exploring Beagle Channel. We went by the Sea Wolves Island Nature Reserve and saw the lighthouse at the end of the world.
This scene touched me. I don't know what the structure is, but I found it lonely and beautiful as though it had taken a stand against the elements and refused to give in.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Words

A tender circles the cruise ship at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands.

It’s not easy working some words into a conversation. I have few favorites that I can use from time to time and that’s fine. But sometimes a word hangs about taking up space in the vocabulary and never seems to get out much.
As Missicat noted yesterday how often do you get to say “on our way to see penguins?” She’s right. It won’t get used all that often so I’d best enjoy it while I can.
Here’s word that needs to get out more, but it’s difficult. On our cruise we sometimes had to be ferried to and from the ship on tenders. They held around 140 people and depending on lineups and how many people were on shore and when they decided to get back, the wait might be long.
In the Falklands we arrived at the dock a little after 4 p.m. to find a lineup of several hundred waiting to get back to the ship. We had to catch the tide out and the captain wanted us back by 5:30 p.m. We left late that day, but we still caught the tide out so it was okay. That evening at dinner I said we caught the antepenultimate tender.
This simply means third from last. Ultimate is last, penultimate is second to last and ante means before. I’ve been able to use that word maybe twice in 20 years with the second time being that night. It’s not easy to work into the conversation.

Other words are easier. The great English actress Joan Sanderson in an episode of Please Sir used what immediately became one of my favorites: albeit. She loathed fellow teacher played by John Alderton. When he wanted to say something to the staff she said they’d hear what he had to say “albeit nothing.”

But my favorite word, and quite possibly the most useful word in the English language, is alleged. I fell hard for this word during an episode in the first season of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary’s apartment was robbed and she had to identify her belongings. On seeing her TV she exclaimed, “My TV.” A police officer played by Bob Dishy corrected her (paraphrased) with, “Your alleged TV.”
On seeing the contents of her closet she exclaimed, “My alleged clothes.”
Just like Sanderson and albeit MTM’s delivery of the line is what initially sold me on the word. Later on its usefulness to me kept it from being a lexical pretty face.

Writers commonly know some big words. We rarely use them in writing simply because the simple word is often the better choice. I may only use antepenultimate a few more times in my life. Albeit I may use a few more times, but alleged gets plenty of use though not as much as it did when I was covering Provincial Court. I still enjoy it and will keep using it whenever the mood strikes me.
Now the flip side of this would be words I despise. I could write something on them, but then I’d have to use them. Think I’ll give that a miss for now.
What about you? What are your favorite words?
Have you got a word you’d love to use, but can’t get it into the conversation? What is it? Tell me. Here’s your chance to use it in the comments.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


We passed by several guanacos on our way to see penguins. Some were alone, a few in small groups, and then this lot.

Guanacos are one of the four camelids and are native to the arid regions of South America. I'd already seen llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas in the wild in Peru so getting to see them meant I've now seem them all in their natural habitat. That is quite a treat.

It was hot day, near +30C, dry and dusty and that lends itself to relaxation and letting one's mind wander about until you need it for something. I noticed something interesting. If I hadn't been paying attention, or say, if I'd been sleeping and then woke up to see the landscape and these critters I would have spent several confusing minutes convinced I was in the southern Alberta looking at antelope. Color and size are similar enough to fool me for a few minutes.

ETA: Several paragraphs are missing from this post. I have no idea where they went and I can't remember them well enough right now to re-create them.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gratitude Monday - Argentine Coast

I loved this sight. It's a simple sight and that is its power. Ocean, mountains, the Argentine coast. Land to the right of the photo and nothing but open ocean to the left.
It was magnificent and I'm so grateful to have seen it.
Because it means I have travelled. It means I was there and I got to see something new, different, and unusual for my life.
It was cold, refreshing, empty, and silent. What could be better?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Photo Finish Friday - A Lonely Stretch Of Penguin

This stretch of Argentine beach at Punta Norte is for penguins only.
Despite the lonely look, there are several hundred Magellan penguins lined up along the water and many more in their burrows on the hillside

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Moment With The Albatross

I’ve wanted to see an albatross since we read The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere by Samuel Taylor Coleridge back in school.
I’ve seen them on nature programs but all it did was sharpen my desire to see them in their natural habitat at the bottom of the world.

Listen, Stranger! Mist and Snow,
And it grew wond'rous cauld:
And Ice mast-high came floating by
As green as Emerauld.

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the Fog it came;
And an it were a Christian Soul,
We hail'd it in God's name.

And a good south wind sprung up behind,
The Albatross did follow;
And every day for food or play
Came to the Marinere's hollo!

It wasn't quite the land of mist and snow, but it was a few hours away from Cape Horn when they joined us and it was cold and misty. That's good enough for me.
We saw several varieties of the bird and we had them around for several days during the cruise. We watched them glide along the surface of the water and occasionally go through a swell and come out the other side of it seemingly unaffected.
It was a great joy to have these seabirds accompany us on our journey.

... italicized material from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sea Lions in the Sun

Sea lions bask in the hot midday sun on an Argentine beach.

A loner.

Enjoying the sea air.

We went on several side trips during our cruise and made sure to see as much sea life as we could find. These happy critters looked like they were enjoying their day at the beach.
Our port was Puerto Madryn and this is from Punta Norte.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Morning Stroll

Two Gentoo penguins make their way to a second colony a few hundred metres away. Penguins have the right of way. If they want to cross your path, you stop and wait.

We saw two colonies of Gentoo penguins in the Falklands.There seems to be a lot of visiting going on. The colonies were only a few hundred metres apart and it made for a lovely waddle for human and penguin alike.

The Falkland Islands are windswept and haunting. Trees cannot grow there, though there is a fair bit of scrub brush. There are no native mammals so the imported sheep have the run of the place.
Getting to the penguins meant bone-jarring 4 x4 rides over private land long since chopped up by said 4 x 4s. The rule was get in, brace yourself, and hang on.

Some 3,000 people live on the Falklands with 2,500 or so of them in the capital, Port Stanley. The rest are scattered about the islands. I wanted to get a photo of a typical farm, but the road a narrow, two-lane gravel affair, was much too rough.
Here's a view along the harbor. Note the walkway along the waterfront.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Gratitude Monday - The Sunset at the End of the World

Sailing into the sunset on our way from the Falklands to Argentina.

I am grateful to have seen this sight.
I loved being on the open ocean. It was broad and empty and quiet. Such places let one expand in mind and provide the room to think and grow.
Rushing humanity with its attendant quest for constant contact is rendered moot and seen for what it is, fundamentally absurd.
It is a simple sunset at the bottom of the world, and it is incomparable.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Photo Finish Friday -- Let's Go To The Hop

We visited a colony of 300 breeding pairs of Rockhopper penguins.
They lived on a cliffside on the scary edge of the Falklands.
Rockhoppers get their name because they hop up the rocks from the water to get to their nests.
As you can tell there were plenty of young ones in the colony.
Penguins are curious creatures and will walk right up to should you stand still. Please note, in the Falklands as well as other penguin areas, the penguins have the right- of- way.

The Rockhopper in profile.

The cliff they climb.

In fairness there is a much easier route with a gentle incline, but this pic gives a better idea of how far up they hop to get to their nests.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cow Surfing

I’m both tired and rested and I have many a grand tale to tell.
I spent a Gratitude Monday ((19 Jan.)on a ranch in Uruguay. Wine, beer, and barbecue. Uruguay has a strong French influence and it shows in the wine. I had a Tannat that was magnificent.
I followed with the Cabernet Sauvignon which was fine. If I’d had it before the Tannat I’m sure I would have raved about it, but the Tannat is that good. So good that the white I had after the Cabernet was vile.
The beer I had to start with was really good, too.
We rode in a hay wagon in the blistering heat. We could milk a cow and go for horseback ride and we watched a gaucho show and ate and ate and ate.
Any other time the fact that I ate sweetbreads as an appetizer and liked it would have been the high water mark of the day. Barbecued pancreas is tasty.
It was a wonderful day spent in fine company, but by far the most memorable event of the day was cow surfing.
Okay, I have no idea what it’s really called. Guests sat down on a dried cowhide and grabbed on to a long line of leather attached to the gaucho’s saddle. We hooked our feet in said strap and hung on for dear life as we were hauled around the pasture.
Rule No. 1: Keep your mouth closed.
Canadian readers will recognize the eerie similarity to riding a banana skin behind a ski-doo.
It was an absolute blast.
I would love to do it again although I don’t recall ever seeing anything like it here.
I’m still recovering from the cruise and the long trip home so this will be a short post.
It’s good to be home.