Sunday, August 30, 2009

Today's Flowers #55: Geranium

Geraniums are so colorful and so much a representative of summer. In the Northeast of the US, we buy them in the late spring and they come into full bloom in the summer but eventually are killed by the frost. Sometimes, we try to bring them into the house to prolong their life. We do not see too much of them in Taiwan, maybe it is too hot.

But in California, the geraniums grow so nice and big. They are probably never killed off during the winter months. These pictures were taken during my trip to Point Reyes Station at Marine County, north of San Francisco early this month.

To see more flowers from around the world click here.

Nephila pilipes (人面蜘蛛)

As we described in our last blog. The Chinese name for the Nephila pilipes is "Human Face Spider". This weekend, we got a chance to photograph the spider from its back. The spider usually has its head pointed downward. I flipped the picture 180 degree, so you can see better the human face on its back.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Camera-Critters #73: Insects at Yangmingsan

Nephila pilipes (人面蜘蛛)

Yangmingsan National Park is actually within the city limit of Taipei. It is one of the few national parks in the world that are so close to the metropolis. It is a volcanic group of mountain ranges. We went to the area two weeks ago and these pictures of various insects were taken during that trip. The Chinese name of this colorful spider is human face spider. Its back looks like a human face.

Aquarius elongatus (Gerridae/Water striders, 水黽)

This amazing creature really was walking on the surface of the water.

Anotogaster sieboldii (Giant Spiketail, 無霸勾蜓)

This one caught in the mid-air is the largest dragonfly of Taiwan.

Neurothemis rambyrii ramburii (Red Percher, 善變蜻蜓)

Orthetrum triangulare (Lesser Pruinose Skimmer, 鼎脈蜻蜓)

To see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Skywatch Friday No. 59: Chatham Lighthouse

This blog is the fourth and last of our skywatch Friday posting concerning the lighthouses of Cape Cod. The other three are Nobska Lighthouse of Woods Hole, Highland Lighthouse of Truro and Nauset Lighthouse of Eastham.

Chatham Lighthouse is the second lighthouse built on Cape Cod. It was built after the Highland Lighthouse. To distinguish it from the Highland Lighthouse, it had twin towers. Ships came in would line up with the two lights to avoid running aground. The original two towers fell into the sea in 1877 and 1879. The replacement towers were built in 1881.

1923 marked the end of the Chatham twins, the north tower was moved to replace "The Three Sisters" of Nauset. The lighthouse were threatened by storms in 1987 and 1991. For now it seems safe. The last picture shows the beach and bay under the overlook of the lighthouse.

To see more sky from around the world click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

ABC Wednesday: F is for a Fabulous Marriage

Two weekends ago, I overheard Grace on the phone with her parents saying "Well, tomorrow will be our 35th Wedding Anniversary". I jumped right into action, what was I to do? I called a hotel in the suburb of Taipei, yes, they have a room; yes I can reserve it right now!!

Of course, not your everyday regular hotel will do for this special occasion. It is the hotel that we spent our honeymoon, 35 years ago. It is a hot spring resort at the National Park of Yangmingshan. It is called Grand China Hotel, it is now fully renovated and belongs to the Landis Hotel Chain.

When we were there the last time, we were two just-married kids. It has been a Fabulous, Fantastic and ...marriage. We have lived in four countries and travelled to many fun places over the past 35 years. The above three pictures were taken in the lobby/bar area where we had proper English afternoon tea.

The next morning, we went to the same park that we visited so many years ago. I took a lot pictures of Grace then. We are a lot older but we have better camera and photoshop now.

Here are two pictures that we took of the carps in a pond. Yes, they are good for "F" also, FISH.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today's Flowers #54: Mophead Hydrangea

We have shown perviously in our Today's Flower blog of the Lace-Capped Hydrangea and the white Annabelle Hydrangea from our Garden. This time we show the most popular Mophead Hydrangea. They are not from our garden. When I went back to Cape Cod in late Spring, I gave all our Mophead Hydrangea a good pruning of its dried branches from last year, not knowing by doing it, I inhibited the flowering of this year.

These photos were taken at Point Reyes Station at Marine County north of San Francisco. As we all know that the color of hydrangea changes depending on the acidity of its soil.

To see more flowers from around the world click here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Skywatch Friday No. 58: Ship in the sky

This picture was taken when my friend took me to have a photo tour along the coast of Marine County north of San Francisco. I was at the time on my "Long Way Back Home" from Cape Cod to Taipei. When we look out to the Pacific Ocean toward the west, we saw this black spot over the horizon. It look like that it was in the sky/cloud. When we look through the telephoto lens, it was a tanker with a tugboat on the side.

To see more sky from around the world click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ABC Wednesday: E is for Typhoon Emergency

Many of you may remember the blog that we wrote about my (Bradley) trip back from the US to Taipei and how my trip was delayed due to Typhoon Morakot. I landed at Taiwan Taoyuan Airport on Saturday, August 8, right at the moment that the eye of the typhoon was passing through the airport into the Taiwan Strait. There was no rain and wind. As I wrote in the blog, we went out to enjoy Taipei which was Father's Day in Taiwan.

However, on that Saturday, the coattail of Typhoon Morakot was making devastating damages to the southern part of Taiwan. It dumped one year worth of rain in two days. In some areas, the rainfall approached 3000 mm (3-meter high). Because of Taiwan's unique geological landscape, the rainfall caused terrible flooding and mud slides. Early this year, we visited the area during a two-day excursion, which we showed in two of our earlier blogs. It is one of the most scenic regions of Taiwan.

In one of the blogs, we talked about a Taiwan Aborigine's performance we saw during our overnight stay at a hot spring resort. The torrent water washed away the river bank during the Typhoon Morakot near that resort, a 10-story high hotel, 50 meters away from the river collapsed into the raging water. Normally, the river is as dry as in the first picture. The road that we took during that trip, Southern Cross-Island Highway is now cut off in many places by the typhoon. The little Aborigine villages dotted in the mountain as shown in this picture were totally cutoff from the outside world. The residents had to be airlifted to safety.

This picture was taken when we just about to cross the mountain path at the highest point of the highway. The road can be seen at lower part of the picture. You can imaging how the side of the mountain can slide and crashing down onto the road or villages during a terrible rain storm.

This picture was taken after we crossed the mountain path looking toward west. The valley down below is the worst damaged area. When over 2 meters of rainfall in two days on these mountains rushed down through the valleys, people only had minutes to escape before the floods and mud slides hit. In one village, half of the buildings disappeared with loss of almost 400 lives.

August 8 is Father's Day and the government nerve center at Taipei is at the northern part of Taiwan. It was totally calm and unscratched by the Typhoon. The government officials sitting in air-conditioned central command, or ran out to have a hair cut or a dinner with father-in-law did not convey an image that they were responding to the emergency with enough organization and urgency. People are not happy about it. These officials may eventually have to pay for it with their political career.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

p.s. Typhoon Emergency

Much criticism has been pointed toward Taiwan Central Government's response to the emergency of Typhoon Morakot. For every natural disaster, people always have to look for someone to take the responsibility. The rainfall caused by the typhoon is the largest in 200 years, or in Taiwan recorded history. All the dams and dikes were constructed to withstand the largest flood for the past 80 years. Several small pieces of information appeared in the news gave us some insights to government officials' efforts during the crisis.

Yesterday, the Chief of National Fire Agency just collapsed during his work at central command, fortunately he is out of danger in the hospital. The National Fire Agency is one of the major components in the Central Command for Emergency. He has not rested for 13 days with only 1 to 3 hours sleep per day. The Central Commend is staffed by officials sent from all departments related to national emergency. At the peak of the crisis, over one hundred personnel worked 32 hours without sleep at the central command.

Here is a story of how the emergency network works and how it eventually failed in one tragic incidence.

President Ma made a comment during one of his visit to the victims of the Typhoon Morakot. He said, the villagers in a village that was buried in a mud slide should have been evacuated when they were told. For this statement, he committed a political suicide of blaming the victims for their misfortune. Here is the story behind it.

Mr. Cheng and Ms. Liu are local volunteer observers that are trained by the government emergency agency to monitor the local situation during any major natural disasters. These kind of volunteer observers are located in every small village throughout the areas that disasters may strike. They are the first line foot soliders for the disaster management. They reported a rainfall of 1400mm from "Little Lin Village" at 8:31 pm on August 8. When the rainfall reach 800mm, the mud slide and flood warning level is already RED. The central command sent an order for the evacuation of "Little Lin Village" to the county government. By 11 pm, 7 orders had been issued by the county government to the village for evacuation. The villagers did not evacuate! By early morning of August 9, the mud slide hit. Half of the village was buried with close to 400 people missing including Mr. Cheng and Ms. Liu and all their 10 family members. The two stayed at their post till the end. No one can be sure what happened since the head of the village also disappeared in the mud slide. The officials of neighboring villages said they have tried every way to persuade people to leave, in the end, the whole mountain came down, where else can they go?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Today's Flowers #53: Water Lilly

Strictly speaking, water lilly consists of two types of aquatic plants: Nelumbo (荷花) and Nymphaea (蓮花). Commonly, Nelumbo is called lotus and Nymphaea is called water lilly. The flowers that are showed at the cover page of Today's Flower #53 are Nelumbo (lotus) and the flower in the above picture is Nymphaea (water lilly).

It is as confusing in Chinese for both flowers as in English. The seeds and roots of lotus are delicacies in Asian cousine. However, they are not called Nelumbo seeds or Nelumbo roots, but, instead, they are called Nymphaea seeds (蓮子) and Nymphaea roots (蓮藕) in Chinese. Same thing happens in the religion of buddhism, the buddha is often referred to sitting on a Nymphaea, but in actuality, he is sitting on a Nelumbo.

Nelumbo and Nymphaea are two very different plants. The easiest way to differentiate them are through their leaves. The leaves of Nelumbo (lotus) stand above the water and their stems go into the middle of the leaves. The leaves of Nymphaea (water lilly) float on the water and their stems connecting to the leaves on the side. Confusing enough?

Both flowers are considered as noble flowers in Chinese culture. They grow up from the mud but keep themselves so clean and pure.

To see more flowers from around the world click here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Camera-Critters #71: American Robin

We saw this American Robin when we arrived at our house on Cape Cod. It lives in the woods next to our property and use our garden as feeding ground.

It kept us company all through our summer holiday.

Too see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Skywatch Friday No. 57: Nauset Lighthouse

We have been absent in Skywatch Friday for several weeks due to traveling. We have finally back to Taiwan from our summer vocation on Cape Cod. This blog is the third of our Skywatch Friday postings concerning the Lighthouses on Cape Cod. The other two are Nobska Lighthouse of Woods Hole and Highland Lighthouse of Truro.

Some of you may find the Nauset Lighthouse at Eastham of Cape Cod looks very familiar, because it is used as a symbol by the famous Cape Cod Potato Chips Company. The lighthouse first built on this location (or under the sea close to the present location) were called "Three Sisters", which were three lights on top of a 15-foot brick tower built in 1838 some 800 feet east of the present lighthouse. Because of beach erosion, the brick tower was replaced by three 22-foot high wooden towers in 1892. The old brick tower was lost to the sea the same year.

The present Nauset Lighthouse made with cast iron was built in 1877 as one of the twin tower located at Chatham. It was dismantled and moved to Eastham in 1923 at a location 200 feet from the cliff to replace the older tower.

By 1996, it was obliged to move the lighthouse again for fear of losing it to the sea. It was moved in one piece, 300 feet inland toward west where it now stands. It is hoped that it will be at this location for another 100 years before it will be necessary to move it again!!!

From the pictures, it seems that we always have this beautiful blue sky in the summer on Cape Cod. In reality, it rained most of the time this June and July.

To see more sky from around the world click here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ABC Wednesday: D is for Dragonfly

By last count, Taiwan has 152 species of dragonflies. Here is a male red-bellied skimmer (Orthetrum pruinosum neglectum), Central Indian subspecies. It just happened to land on the shoulder of a friend. On close up, it was devouring a bee. What a food chain!

It is a male Formosan jewelwing (Matrona cyanoptera). It is one of the longest dragonfly with green metallic body and blue wings. You can click the photo to see the details on its legs.

This is a red percher (neurothemis ramburii ramburii). Notice the tips of its wings are transparent.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Long Way Back Home

I must apologize to many of our blogging friends that we have not been active in our internet blogging activities for the last two weeks. The reason has been many folds. First, we lost our internet connection back in our house on Cape Cod. The only way we could get online was to go to the Mashpee Common Shopping Mall. The second was we were overwhelmed by the visit of our daughter's family during the last week of July. The third was our long journey back home to Taipei. Grace left for San Francisco for a conference on Friday, July 31. I left Cape Cod on Tuesday, August 4, to go back to Taiwan via San Francisco too. We had a brief rendezvous at San Francisco airport before she took off to Taiwan before me.

Due to various last minutes schedule alternation, I ended up to have to stay with my good friend, Dean, in San Francisco for two nights. It was good to see him and his family, especially his new grandson. Dean took me out to the north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge to have an afternoon photographic tour on the Pacific coast of Marine County. These were pictures that I took of this beautiful and rugged coast line during the trip. Our final destination was an oyster farm on Hog Island. The oysters were very delicious.

When I finally ready to fly back to Taiwan in the morning on Thursday, August 6, I was told in the airport that my connecting flight from Tokyo to Taipei was cancelled due to typhoon. The next available flight will be on August 11!!! I finally got on a flight to Seoul, Korea, stayed one night and took a flight to Taipei the next day and arrived back home on Saturday afternoon.

Neither of us can sleep on Sunday morning due to jet-leg. We went out to eat at a roadside noodle stand at 4 AM. The place was packed with taxi drivers, journalists and late night party goers. After a satisfying meal, we went out for a drive then went to the traditional market for some grocery shopping.  After all these activities in the early morning, it was just in time for us to go to the 2009 Paganin Festival in Taiwan at National Music Theater.  It was hosted by Eva Air, with its own Evergreen Symphony Orchestra.  The guests were three Chinese violinists, Feng Ning, Mengla Huang and Bin Huang, all have won 1st Prize at the prestige Paganin International Violin Competition in Genova.  It was a marvelous concert.  Afterwards, we had lunch at the original store of the world famous dumpling restaurant, Dintafung (鼎泰豐). We were glade that we were finally home.

In the meantime, we had the worst flood in Taiwan history at the southern part of Taiwan during the weekend. In one area, the accumulative rainfall was close to 3000 mm!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Today's Flowers #52: Annabelle

Unlike the better known mophead hydrangeas (macrophyllas) of pink or blue color, annabelle is a stunning white hydrangea, and can often be used as a lovely simple flower arrangement of bridal bouquet. This specimen in our garden is a fantastic producer of flowers. The massive flowers come out every summer without failing. We often cut them to make bouquet of dry flowers.

Too see more flowers from around the world click here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ABC Wednesday: C is for Grandchild

It is so obvious what we will post for the letter "C". Of course, our lovely granddaughter, Sailee. Grace and our daughter's family all came to stay in our Cape house last week. We had a great time together, and especially with Sailee. She is so photogenic that we could not not have her in our viewfinder all the time.

Some of you may remember that I have shown the figurine of the fountain in our back garden for our post for "V". It was not functioning at that time and as you can see now it works perfectly well and she just loved to play with the water coming out from it.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday from around the world click here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Today's Flowers #51: Grass

These photos were taken about a month ago at South Cap Beach. I think they are just common grass, since I saw them on the edge of our lawn with the woods also, where the gardener ignores to cut the grass.

It was a beautiful late afternoon, I saw how did the light shine through them and snapped the pictures.

To see more flowers from around the world click here.


Related Posts with Thumbnails