Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I am moving to a new blog site

I am setting a new blog using the same product I am used to using for web sites.  This is a link to my new site.
If there is nothing much there yet, it means I am still setting it up!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Classes are out for the semester

It is a great joy that Joyce Owen has graduated from PIU with her bachelor's degree!  She was also the salutatorian and spoke at the Baccalaureate service on May 8th.
Joyce Owen Salutatorian Speech
In the front row taking pictures.  Graduates behind.
Graduation was on Monday the 9th at the PIU Campus.  The day started with rehersal.
Bear thought it was great fun.

The Lord arranged everything perfectly.  It poured rain and cooled it off and stopped 1/2 hour before the ceremony started.  The power went out but before the ceremony started so that everything was run on generator.  But, the power came back on just in time for Anne and Steve Stinnette to Skype attend when the graduates received their diplomas.  Perfect.  More pictures......

Faculty and Staff singing "Holy, Holy, Holy"
We had two Valedictorians this year -- Grateful Nokar and Xuefen Mei.
Valedictorian Grateful Nokar speaking
An after ceremony picture with Xuefen Mei
Other pictures from the after ceremony celebration...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bike Riding and Grocery Shopping on Guam

Bike Riding

I have been bike riding as often as possible.  I have to get home well before 5:30 PM so that it is not dark by the time I return home.  I usually ride 5 times around the UOG (University of Guam) campus.  I guesstimated that it is 3/4 of a mile from my house and 1 mile around the campus.  On each turn around the campus I get to see Pago Bay into the Pacific where the Mariana's trench.  I am told Mt. LamLam is the tallest mountain on earth because Guam is the tip of a mountain whose bottom is at the bottom of the Trench,

Here are a couple of pictures from my rides lately.

Me and my Ride.  UOG buildings behind
Pago Bay looking into the Pacific
 Below are some sunset and cloud pictures.  The clouds are as beautiful as the sunsets!

Grocery Shopping and Refrigeration

Grocery prices are high here on Guam. Shopping is an adventure of looking for markdowns and deals when one is on a limited budget.  Trolling the "discount bins" where items are expired or close to it are marked down.  Normally I do not pay full price for brick cheese or sliced sandwich meat.  I'm almost out of both so I may not have cheese for lunch and I'll have to pay full price for meat.  That hurts.  One time I checked over the regular shelves of peanut butter and found one a couple days out of date and got a real deal at the cash register.  Twice I have scored on Parmesan cheese.  The first time I got 5 cans for 1.00 each.  Last week I got 2 16 oz cans (full price 10.30) for 2.50 each.  They were priced 5.00 but I am not above asking if they can "give me a better price".  A loaf of discounted bread of decent quality is to be immediately snatched up.

The reason I can buy outdated or almost outdated foods is that I keep them in the freezer even if they don't need refrigerating.  Peanut butter is always in the fridge along with bread, salt, margarine, candles, rice, and anything else that is affected by the warmth and dampness.  Stuff I would keep in a cupboard in California where it is dry would either melt (margarine), grow bugs (rice), or grow mold (bread) here. 

Some things are hard to get but I keep looking.  Last year I had my brother send me the big size can of cinnamon.  Then one day as I was about to ask him for another can I found it in our local warehouse type store!  It's like hitting gold.  I also have a hard time finding Hersey's mini-chocolate chips which I like for the ice cream I make.  I had been looking for months and no chips.  Just the big ones.  Then last weekend I found them in a store and bought 5 bags now residing in my freezer.  My last bag from a prior purchase about a year ago is open and being used. 

My ice cream mixer calls for 3 cups of heavy cream, 3/4 cup of sugar and vanilla for vanilla ice cream.  Ugh.....  I use just under one cup of Half & Half.  The rest of the 3 cups is low fat milk from a box (it's cheaper to buy it in a box).  I add about 1/4 cup of sugar and vanilla (the only  thing not changed).  The chocolate chips come in when I eat it.  Yumm.....   Lately I haven't been able to find Half & Half so I got whipping cream and put about half as much as I do of Half & Half which seems equivalent.

There are people that I know here that are better bargain hunters having been here longer but I try to do my part.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve on Guam

The wall to the right.  The jungle is creeping through.
The wall to the left.  More vines creeping through the wal

A couple of months ago I moved to a new apartment in the same building but on the 1st floor.  No more stairs!  It has been wonderful when carrying laundry and water in and out (Guam water is technically drinkable but tastes terrible unless treated).  Here is what my new back yard looks like.  There is a wall about 6-8 feet from my back door.  I also have included a picture from yesterday's sunset.  Sunsets are over in a minute.  I have missed sunset pictures while I got my camera out it's case!

Sunset at University of Guam looking over Pago Bay.

I enjoy Christmas Eve here on Guam.  At 5:00 this evening the Lutheran Church of Guam held the first of 2 services at the San Ramon Hill Caves in Hagåtña.  These caves were dug by hand during WWII by the Japanese using forced Chamaro labor.  After a short service of singing, prayer, and the Christmas story, we went into the cave where a live creche scene was setup.  As was done last year, a couple with a newborn child took the place of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus.
Melody played her 12 string guitar for the singing.
The cliff is elegantly draped with philodendron vines.
A glimpse into the manger scene with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.  A caribau (water buffalo) is just visible behind.

I ran into Suzanne and Anne as well as other friends from PIU including a passel of Owen's
Last years baby Jesus (Hope) is just learning to walk.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vacation in California

It has been a while since I posted any news.  Since July 17th I have been vacationing in California at the house where I used to live before moving to Guam.  Here is a glimpse of my home away from home.   I have been very comfortable.

One thing I have done a couple of times is take a ride on the American River bike trail in the Sacramento area.  Here are a few pictures.
Canoes on the river
American River - the water is very cold.
The river is shared with Canada Geese at the Negro Bar park.

This morning I went for a walk up the hill behind the house where everything is wild and untouched.  I found the trails I had made all blocked by branches and finally ended up following quad tracks through the grass.  I saw a family of turkeys that kept an eye on me but certainly did not run for cover.  I evidently was not seen as a threat.

I found a Digger Pine cone that was from this years crop and still green and tightly closed.  I picked it up to bring back for pictures but it was so sticky that I dropped it.  After 2 washings, my hands are still sticky.  Later I found a cone that was drier and cone open still hanging on a tree where it was low enough to knock it down with the hoe I was using as a walking stick.  I brought it back to the house for pictures.

Digger Pines are very interesting.  The wood is good for nothing because it is too soft and the trees have a tendency to fall over without warning when there is no breeze.  They are interesting because of the cone. Only one other tree has a bigger or heavier cone.  That comes from the Sugar Pine which also grows in this area but at a higher elevation.  Not that these cones compete with coconuts for size and weight but look at the spines.  They are deadly!

I looked up the tree on the internet and the cones are oval and 6 to 10 inches long the cone scales are triangular and bearing a stout, triangular, curved, point great for sticking anyone picking it up.  Sugar Pines are amazing with cones well over a foot long.

The pictures below are of the cone I knocked out of a tree.  My guess is the cone is 9 or 10 inches long.  But, look at how big around it is!  Look how much damage those spines could do if dropped on your head from 50 feet above!

One mean cone next to my hand so you can see the size.
Mean looking spears sticking out of the cone ready to stab.
Now I have to go outside and remove all the stickers from my sneakers so that I do not bring them to Guam!

Vacation is almost over!  I will be returning to Guam in a few days.  I have enjoyed my vacation but now it is time to go home.  My next post will be much greener.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wood working Signs

I have been making signs for my church which are given to people and families that leave Guam.  So many are in the military that are stationed here for 2 or 3 years and then transfer out somewhere else.  So, we are a transient church.  While people leave, new people arrive.  This is a picture of some of the signs I have been working on -- drying under a 100 watt light bulb.  Polyurithane just does not dry quickly in the humid air. 

Boonie Stopm to Tarzan Falls

A whole group of us hiked to Tarzan Falls.  It is classes as an "intermediate" "stomp" which is my limit.  This is the sign at the beginning of the trail.  Other than a couple of arrows in the jungle that didn't seem to point to the trail, the trail was marked in the usual manner -- plastic strips tied to branches.
There was a little rain that morning so the trail was a bit damp as we started out.  This caused mud to adhere to our shoes and we kept getting taller and taller.  By the time we returned, everything was as dry as if it never rained at all.  Here is a hiker trying to get shorter by removing some sticky muck from her shoes.  It didn't help much.
Here we are at the top of the falls.  Anne Stinnette wasn't sure there would be any water because it has been so dry but there is some!

That is muck I stepped in.  It was a boggy spot and my right leg sank to my knee.  I had mud on my shorts!  Both shoes are studies in muck.  I washed it off below the falls where there is swimming.  Anne asked me "Is your shoe still on your foot?"  It was but this was not a silly question.  I stepped in a bog up to my knee in Connecticut one time while picking elderberries.  My foot came out that time shoeless.  I reached down the hole and found my shoe, pulled it out with a slurp, tossed it up on the road and went barefoot while I finished my quest to pick elderberries.

This time, when I got home, the sneakers were still brown -- they are supposed to be black.  It may be permanent.

Water falling down the cliff.  I though the rock strata very interesting and beautiful.

Relaxing before the climb back to the top.

For me, climbing up is always easier than the climb down.  I think it took about half the time to get to the top including rests times at frequent intervals.  Naturally, the young folks with us were lounging around waiting for the us old folks to get to the top.