Thursday, December 31, 2015

Stockholm Stadshus

Stockholm City Hall from the "inside.".The building is an open rectangle.
The Stockholm Stadshus (City Hall) is an impressive structure. Outside, it has a great tower in one corner and sits directly across the lake from our hotel. Inside, however, it is a special place.

The LogInn Hotel

MS Kronprinsesse Märtha, a cruiseship ordered in 1928 was built by the "International Ship-building and Engineering Co" in Danzig. It was delivered in the summer of 1929 to Stavanger, Norway.

The MS Kronprinsesse Märtha.


In the early 17th Century, Sweden was at war with Poland. King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus, decided to build a ship that was to be a game changer. Very few ships at this time had two decks of guns. He wanted that. He wanted a heavily armed ship that was fast. As you can tell by trying to push your hand through water palm-first or to the side with all fingers following in a line, a narrower ship is going to be easier to move through the water faster.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boxing Day Update

Katla on the prowl.

On Christmas and Boxing Days we had some down time and enjoyed the cats we are sitting. One cat, Katla, is, oddly enough, allowed outside. Above is Katla prowling her domain.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gamla Stan

The Christmas Market in the Stortorget Square in Gamla Stan.
Old Town is a fun place. Lots of old but well maintained buildings and delightful stores. Above is a view of the annual Christmas Market. Although we've been told (repeatedly) on the web that the Stockholm has some of the best markets, it didn't seem to be anything special. Compared to Vienna, it is small. The selection on Gamla Stan is very good, not extensive. Lots of toys and candy. Some choices of mulled wine and sausages, but these are more limited. Of course, compared to the gigantic "market" in Hyde Park, London, this is a backwater. The one in London is what it would look like in the US if we did such a thing - overdone, extensive, exhausting, wonderful, impressive, and expensive.

Exploring Stockholm

View of Gamla Stan (Old Town) from Södermalm.  Please note that this was taken near mid-day.
Stockholm is a beautiful city. In spite of the fact that the winters are dark and (typically) cold, people have been living here a long time - since at least the 6th Century BC. Wikipedia claims that the name first appeared in print about 1252. Today, Stockholm is a large city (about 2.2 million in the metro area), the largest in the Nordic region.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Beverly Street on a Saturday Night

Beverly Street on a Saturday night.
Just a little bit to add to the earlier post about the beginning of the holiday season. It seems we are getting carriage rides in town this December. As you can see above, the horse-drawn carriage is about to negotiate a turn. A delightful evening out.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Strangeness Abounds

I have been very careful to avoid politically charged posts so far. I'm at my limit.

The number of crazy things that are getting put out on the intertubes these days is just astounding. It is difficult to believe that real people in the US are saying these things in public. Perhaps it is really true that we have been invaded by the body snatchers and these aren't people who spout this shit. Maybe all these shows and movies about zombies are trying to tell us something. Maybe I should just take the hint.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

'Tis the Season

Now that a) I have at least an interim solution to the image exporting issue, and b) it is now officially Christmas season, it is time for a post on enjoying the sights of the season.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Time of Family and Friends

Every year we gather many friends with our family to enjoy the community in which we live. We gather for one of Elizabeth's fantastic signature meals and find that, just like Babette's Feast, it transforms us all as we eat and talk. We had about 20 people for our Thanksgiving meal, some were new friends. We all had a great time.

To top this off, on Friday we had another special meal, just with our family to capture the spirit of Babette's Feast. We followed as best we could (no turtle soup, no 1860 vintage wine, etc.) the spirit of the meal. Lots of wine and great food (again). Even with only five of us around the table, we found that openness and communion that all great meals generate. So, this year, we had two magical feasts to celebrate the season of thankfulness.

I hope your celebration were as transformative.

Normally, I would be posting photos of our turkey and some of the folks. However, I upgraded to El Capitan this week and now I can only export images from my photo software that are tinted green with pink highlights. Not good. Hopefully, this will get sorted out soon.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Farmer's Market

This weekend, we are visiting our friends in Arkansas to end our long fostering of their two cats, Patsy  (Cline) and Buddy (Holly). This morning we visited the farmer's market in downtown Fayetteville and found it quite a pleasant experience.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

We Get Fog

Nikon 1 V3 -- 18.5 mm,  ISO 160, 1/125 s,  f/1.8

After a recent rain, the sky began to clear about sunset. It was warm. The water soaked ground made a place where lots of pockets of ground fog were generated. And this made for an interesting display of textures across the fields.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Staunton Train Station

Took some time the other day to wander a bit about the Staunton train station to get a few shots. I took my trusty Nikon 1 V3 with the 18.5 mm lens (equivalent field of view to a 50 lens on a FF camera). I was in a B&W kind of mood so I converted all this to B&W using the Nik software.

Birds of Prey

Back in June we did a house sit in Warboys, Cambridgeshire. It was a tiny village that didn't even have a pub. Well, OK, it had a pub but not one I would go in.

What was easy to find was places that rescued birds of prey. I took my Nikon D800E and my

Nikon - AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens to attempt to photograph these birds while roosting (pretty good) and flying (pretty bad). My back hurt for days afterwards.

Below the fold is a selection of some of the photos from visits to two different places.

Thursday, October 08, 2015


In case you don't know (and I certainly didn't) the word hoon has the following definition from Wikipedia:

Hoon is a term used in Australia and New Zealand, to refer to anyone who engages in loutish, anti-social behaviours. In particular, it is used to refer to one who drives a car or boat in a manner which is anti-social by the standards of contemporary society, i.e. too fast, too noisily or too dangerously.

The Toowoomba Chronicle reports that this is a problem on at least one street in town. For a full appreciation of what this is like, head over to the Chronicle and watch the video linked there for a really outlandish demonstration of wasting tire rubber and making noise.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Oh My!

As George Takei has put so eloquently, "Oh my!" The high resolution color images of Pluto are beginning to trickle back from the slow modem connect we have with New Horizons.

And they are breathtaking. Head over to NASA to feast on the full resolution versions and don't simply base your opinion on the reduced version above.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Bit of Petting Sitting on the Side

Edith Ann
Elizabeth is engaged in bit of dog sitting in Harrisonburg just now. Her charges are couple of handsome American Bulldogs. I show up in the evenings to help with the walking duties.

Yesterday, we took the "kids" out for a ride since their mom says they enjoy such things. We had a nice ride through some the Mennonite farmland found around the south side of town followed by a bit of a walk to handle the "necessary" issues.

I'd show you a photo or two of Edith's brother, Hank, but he is a harder subject to capture - he's always moving, and if you bend over to photograph him, he's right there before you can click the shutter. We have time yet, perhaps I'll get him.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Plans Are Set

The Vasa Museum (Photo Ola Ericson).
The wheels are turning, and travel plans are getting made. We are really going to Stockholm for Christmas!

And since there is always need of a bit of time at the beginning and end of travel to match travel and house sitting schedules, we are staying before and after our house sit in a hotel that is a ship.
LogInn Hotel, M/S Kronprinsesse Märtha, located by the Södermälarstrand.
Do you think I can manage to get sea sick while the ship is tied up in port? This is going to be fun!

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Lawn Party

The preparation.
To celebrate Labor Day, our family, and friends, we hosted a lawn party on Sunday. This involved starting well before to get everything right. E worked hard for many days, and I tended the grill on Saturday to cook. After lighting a fire and getting it going well, we put two large pieces of pork on the grill for about five hours to make some succulent BBQ.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

More Disturbing Australian Creatures

Sea snake and stone fish in fight to the death

WMUR has posted an article about a fisherman in his boat headed back to Darwin on the norther coast of Australia who spied the above death struggle in the water.

This is a poisonous sea snake biting a poisonous stone fish who is biting the snake. The snake killed and ate the fish.

There are some scary things in and around Australia.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Stockholm at Christmas

St. George and the Dragon at the Storkyrkan.
The plan is to spend Christmas break in Stockholm (taking care of a kitty). Days are short: sun up by 9-ish and sun down by about 16:00. Then there are those Swedes - they have a different word for everything (to quote Steve Martin).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Amazing Landscape Photos

First Prize International Landscape Photograph of the Year 2015: Luke Tscharke

The Landscape Photographer of the Year competition has announced the winners and they are, as expected, amazing. The article on Huffington Post  also collects the winner's photos in a form that may be a little easier to scan, and I want to share them here as well to be sure that you see these remarkable photos.

I have my work cut out for me, clearly.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A bit of a pet sit

McGuire is relaxed.
Doing a bit of pet sitting this weekend. I thought I'd share some photos of the cats. Rumor has it that the internet needs more cat photos(?). Above you see McGuire. He is indeed an ample creature with great confidence that all is safe.

His brother, Dougal gives the impression of not really paying attention to me with his staring out into space.
Dougal sees spacemen.
No matter how many times I try to photograph him, he always has this vacuous stare -- "Zandor, I hear and obey". Beautiful cat with a silky coat and very friendly.

Up on the rooftop...

From the Brisbane Times.

It seems that no place in Australia is really safe. These fellows are in the city of Cairns in northern Queensland. The key quote in the article is

"The residents rang me with suspicions they might have snakes," he said.*

There were apparently two pythons on the roof fighting. Go figure.

*Read more: Follow us: @brisbanetimes on Twitter | brisbanetimes on Facebook

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Just reading the power meter...

I repeatedly encounter blog and news items about all the inventive ways that nature has dreamed up to hurt you in Australia. Here's the latest incarnation in the Daily Mail. Take a moment to absorb the content of the photo above.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


 On a hot summer's day the bumble bees are thick in the agastache. These guys are constantly feeding  and enjoying the abundance.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hardware update

Cleaning the windows on Beverly Street.
I have been using the new Nikon 1 v3 to learn what I can learn. And I have to say, I'm impressed. Compared to the SOOC jpg's from the Fuji X100s, the jpgs from the v3 are head and shoulders better.  Above is shot from downtown of window cleaning that shows what I mean. Note that only parts of the sky are blown out while the rest of the image filling the exposure range very nicely. Details remain in the shadows of the brick wall and the highlights across the street. Well done.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Atomic City

Boom goes London and boom Paree
More room for you and more room for me
Randy Newman, Political Science, 1972

 There is a new web site getting some attention in the press called Nukemap. On this site you can choose a location for your nuclear device, its yield, and other details, then get a visual representation of the result of the detonation on a map.

Friday, July 31, 2015


I am reading this well-written book on the many, many dead buried in London. After spending 3+ months there and learning serial sections of the city very well, it is real treat to visit the history of events and people give the city its character. Every place, it seems is built on top of a cemetery and every cemetery has its story.

One of this the rare things that I especially enjoy is when a book has a cover that is a photograph I know. This is such book. In the upper portion of the cover above, you will see the entrance to the Egyptian Avenue in Highgate Cemetery. We visited there in the spring of 2014. I have a similar picture, although mine is from a vantage point off to the left of this one. Height is a most amazing place. People put their address over the entrance to their mausoleum to be sure that everyone know they were rich from the neighborhood they lived in as well as the one they were dead in.
Egyptian Avenue, Highgate Cemetery
Visiting Highgate, it is easy to see how the Victorians came to create the ghost story with the dread of the burial, the cold and dank place, the long remembrance of ancient things, and the ego to conquer it all. It is place of industrial burials with 17 or more stacked on top of one another in a single grave in places. It is place of deep affection where lovers remain embraced for eternity. It is a place of parental love without bounds. It is very human place even though there are no living humans in it. It is a tether to our past.

London is a magical city, filled with history, dramatic architecture, interesting people, and fun things to do. The more we visit there, the more we want to stay there.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tools of the trade

The coast of Cornwall at Tintagel.
To take on the world, one needs the right tools. For me, this means photography equipment.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Snakes on a plain

The inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus), also commonly known as the western taipan, the small-scaled snake, or the fierce snake (Wikipedia)
Of the twelve most venomous snakes listed on wikipedia, only 2 are not found in Australia. However,  according to Australian Geographic, the rate at which humans are bitten is low.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Passing the time

Anyone who knows us will understand that one of our main pursuits in Australia will be finding birds. We have found a dandy book to help us with this. We haven't yet had time to go through the book in detail, but it looks to be very complete and well-written.

As near as we can tell, there really aren't any bird in Australia that we already know from our travels elsewhere in the world. There might be a few old friends, but this is going to be a trip filled with wonders. The common backyard birds are amazing. The amazing birds are amazing. It's just amazing.

We will just find a place to sit and be. Unwinding while watching beautiful birds in an exotic location is going to be a very fine way to pass the time. Of course we will move the "be-ing" spot from time to time and see what there is lots of places.

This seems to be great book. It's going to be a great trip.

If you are in the business to heading to Australia as well, you can find the book at

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Livin' for free

Living in East Finchley, UK.

Thanks to the internet, there are ways to find places to live without cost. Well, without paying money at least.

We discovered in about mid-2013 that web sites exist for just this sort of thing. Thanks to clever folks who had a great idea, there is now a way to connect people who have home, and often pets, that need to be watched while they are away with folks who are interested in helping them out. So if you are responsible, clean, and enjoy pets, that is made to order.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

In the beginning...

Imagine being able to sit on a beach, a mountain side, or a grassy plain and do...nothing. For as long as you like.

Soon, Elizabeth will retire. In less that a year, so will I. We've been practicing for this, off and on, most of our life. We are now slow-walking the startup of the real thing.

We are embarking on an adventure. Having discovered a couple years ago that we can use the web to find people who are looking for pet and house sitters, we've been exploring this as a way to travel. It works. So we are moving into full time sitting.

This blog will record our travels, our discoveries, and include some photography and opinions along the way. We want to remember what we've done and we'd like to share it with our friends.

Welcome to the adventure.