Archive for August, 2009

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Kyle’s 17th Birthday and Niagara Falls

August 29, 2009

Wow! I can’t belive Kyle is 17 already. Where has the time gone?

I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday and he decided on dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Buffalo, followed by a visit to Niagara Falls. We had planned to go to a Teppanyaki restaurant that we had previously visited, but upon reading a couple of recent reviews of the place, decided on a more favorably reviewed restaurant called Wasabi. Despite the spicy name, it was a great little place with delicious food and the presentation of the food was excellent!

I ordered Teriyaki Strip Steak, which was wonderful.

Teriyaki-Beef

Jeff ordered the Chirashi. It was gorgeously presented.

chirashi

Kyle, Sarah, Erin, and my father-in-law shared this Titanic portion of sushi and sashimi.

titanic

I did not get a picture of the food my mother-in-law ordered, but it was equally awesome in presentation.

After a filling, late lunch, we set out towards the falls. Along the way, we made a quick pit stop and Kyle suggested I get a picture of the sky. It really was a beautiful day for a trip to the falls. The sky was blue, the temperature was warm, but not hot, and the weather (mostly) cooperated.

blue-sky

Upon arriving in Niagara Falls, we drove around a while looking for cheap parking, but found that all of our old favorite places now either cost, or are reserved. I guess when the casino opened, all the prices shot up…for everything! We found a spot and parked, then walked across the bridge to Goat Island. It was a slow go as I was having a very bad breathing day. Along the way, we saw this building…

I was intrigued by the artwork at the top. I couldn’t quite tell for sure what it was, but with some searching, I did find some information on the building. It is the United Office Building, built in 1929, and it has an Art Deco Mayan Revival motif in several places on the building, including all around the top levels. Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel compelled, at the time, to walk around the building and photograph other Mayan art on it. Something about not being able to breathe and the rain that was beginning to fall. We ducked into a souvenir shop to wait out the rain for a few minutes, then we had clear (from rain) skies the rest of the day.

As we were crossing the bridge, I noticed these silly geese swimming in the water just yards from the crest of the falls! Don’t they have any sense? (you really need to click on the picture to enlarge it in order to see the geese)

Once we got to Goat Island, I noticed this squirrel. The black squirrels that reside near the border, both in the US and Canada, are notorious for being mean, evil little creatures. They will chase you! Yes those fluffy little 1 pound creatures have the ability to make grown adults run away. I don’t know what it is about them, but they just have an air that says “I own the place, I dare you to challenge my right to be here…” I quickly took this guy’s picture, then walked away. I didn’t want him to think I had anything at all against him!

This squirrel seemed much friendlier than the one above. He came right over to us. We suspect he has received some “free handouts” before and has lost his fear of people. Anyway, I thought he made a good subject for a picture or two.

Erin is the only of my children that enjoys having her picture taken, so I take many of her. This one I found amusing. Her hair is like a barometer. Here it is saying humid. Her hair is normally quite straight, but as the humidity rises, the frizz and waviness of her hair also increases.

barometer-erin

The next five shots are the obligatory, “I went to Niagara Falls,” shots. They really look better enlarged…just click on them.

crest

horseshoe

Having lived within a days drive of the Falls for most of my life, it would be simple for them to have just become another site to visit. I have never, however, ceased to be amazed by the power of them. The following picture screams “power” to me. They really are an awe inspiring site to behold!

Kyle wanted to see the Falls all lit up at night, so we ventured out onto the observation deck as the sun began setting. I have no monopod or tripod, but I still wanted to try my hand at a few night photos. I took several which range from awesome to awful. The following two fall in the awesome category. I was very pleased with how they turned out, especially considering I had nothing but my arms to stabilize the camera.

lit-up-2

lit-up

This is my artistic, don’t look through the lens, just point, fire, and hope for the best shot. I like the way the sun is just a little dot in the picture.

misty-sun

I think this guy might have had the best seat in the house!

perched

Kyle reported that he had a very good time. It was ridiculously late by the time we got home, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

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A Trip South

August 26, 2009

The weekend before last, Michelle had a party to celebrate her graduation from high school. She was fortunate enough to have completed her entire compulsory schooling without setting foot in a school building for any of it. For any who have doubts as to the competence and sociability of home-schooled young people, they need only talk to my little sister and her (many) home-schooled friends to learn that she and they are very bright, very social, and extremely well-behaved (and polite) young adults!

Having felt miserable for a few weeks with the breathing thing, I was hesitant to go to her party, knowing that there would be many young people and that my nerves were raw from frustration with this bizarre reaction I’d had. Early that afternoon, I began having a lot of trouble breathing again. It was a remarkably humid day with temperatures in the 90’s. Having no air conditioning at home, I decided I’d be better off at my parents house which is in the woods, far from the heat retaining hard surfaces of the city. I also knew I could sneak into the air conditioned camper or office if I needed to. So off we went.

On the way there, we saw two people hang-gliding across from the Bristol Mountain ski resort. There is a jump off point near the top of the hill opposite the ski mountain. Why anyone would want to leave the safety of terra firma to fly with nothing more than (what looks like) a kite and a harness is beyond me!

jump-off

hang-gliders

We sat and watched them for several minutes. There must have been some great winds up high because they seemed to float back and forth without losing any altitude for the whole time we watched them.

Upon arriving at my parents, I sat in the camper for quite some time working on a Lego Carousel that my uncle had brought. My kids love building Lego sets, so we all sat inside the cool camper and built a good deal of it. As Michelle’s guests arrived, I was amazed at the number of people and the relative calmness of the whole thing. I ventured out of the camper and found the parents of 3 of Michelle’s friends and sat and talked with them for most of the party. They were delightful to talk to and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I also chatted with a friend of the family for whom Michelle works in the fall, making grape pies. Another delightful conversation.

By the time the party was over, I was quite pleased that I had decided to go. My kids were also quite happy!  I was not really feeling up to taking a lot of pictures since teens don’t seem to stay in one place long enough to snap a picture, unless of course they are eating, which does not make for attractive photos! Here is a picture of the graduate though.

happy-graduate

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Bad to Worse With Some Good Thrown in…

August 3, 2009

It has been a rough couple of days. On Friday morning, I began having some breathing difficulties at work. The floor crew had waxed a portion of the department directly outside the department in which I work. The humidity in the store was pretty high and there were no fans or anything pushing the fumes the other way. After a few hours and nearly passing out, I told a co-worker I needed to sit. I asked another to call our Night Crew Chief. He came over, took one look at me, and directed someone to call 9-1-1. Two paramedics and 3 firefighters later, I was taken to the hospital, feeling extremely embarrassed! At the hospital they believed I had experienced an allergic reaction to something in the wax. They gave me a couple nebulizer treatments and sent me on my way. About 12 hours later, I found myself back in respiratory distress, leading Jeff to take me to an Urgent Care facility. There they did a chest x-ray which came back negative, so the doctor assumed an irritated, inflamed airway and gave me Prednisone and an Albuterol inhaler.

Here we are 3 days later and the symptoms are worse. I went to our Worker’s Compensation doctor’s office where they determined, after another chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia, that I have Acute Chemical Bronchitis. The chemicals irritated way down into the alveoli, causing nasty respiratory symptoms. I am still, however, maintaining O2 Sats of nearly 100%, and a heart rate near 50! Sure wish I could breathe though! If I talk too much (more than a sentence) or I walk too far (more than about 10 feet) I start gasping. Taking a deep breath is almost non-existent except for right after the inhaler. The Worker’s Comp. doc increased the length and frequency of the Prednisone and also put me on a steroid inhaler.

After delivering paperwork, picking up prescriptions, and talking to people at work, we had to pick up Erin at her first day of hockey camp. We got there a little early and I carefully (at a turtly pace) walked in to take a couple pictures.

That’s her in the net.

day-1

She saw us watching and waved…silly girl!

day-1-hi-mom

day-1-too

After picking her up Sarah called and ordered dinner from a local healthy Mediterranean style place for take-out. For some reason I didn’t feel like cooking dinner, lol! While I waited in the Jeep for Jeff and Sarah to get the food, this guy came along to entertain me.Sorry they are a little fuzzy, I was shooting through the windshield.

tree-squirrel

stealthy-squirrel

silly-squirrel

Now, I am going to go rest for the rest of the night! And try to breathe…