Tag Archives: Family

100 Years of the Kansas State Fair

Gourds form the heads of these prize-winning scarecrows at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012. The scarecrows are modeled after artist Grant Wood’s famous painting, “American Gothic.”

I’ve lived in Kansas most of my life, but this is the first year I’ve visited the Kansas State Fair, which happened to be the 100th fair. My daughter-in-law has visited with her family every year since she was a small child, and she and her family always find new things to see and do. I barely scratched the surface. As the fair motto goes: The Fair “Never Gets Old.”

Here’s fair fare — a carrot cake funnel cake on the top and a corn dog on the bottom — at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

According to the website, the fair’s mission is “to promote and showcase Kansas agriculture, industry and culture, to create opportunity for commercial activity, and to provide an educational and entertaining experience that is the pride of all Kansans.”

More than 350,000 people from all 105 Kansas counties and several other states visit the fair each year, which begins the Friday following Labor Day and lasts for 10 days at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. Many thousands of those visitors seemed to be there the day we visited, the first Saturday. It was busy! There are more than a thousand commercial vendors, including those wonderful funnel cake and corn dog stands. There are about 30,000 entries in various competitions. There are lots of musical acts from local to national, including “Boston” and “Heart.” I didn’t see any concerts, unfortunately, but I did try some carrot cake funnel cake. Delicious!

I’ll let my photographs do the talking. The Kansas State Fair website.

Sculptor Sharon BuMann is creating a train and cars from 450 pounds of butter. The cars carry the Kansas icons of Dorothy wearing her red shoes and her dog Toto.

Check out the movie “Butter,” starring Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Alicia Silverstone and Olivia Wilde. Two women battle in their town’s annual butter carving competition. "Butter" movie.

A girl, who has already enjoyed a face painting session, plays with the grains in the wheat fountain. A volunteer warned me that my photograph might be “grainy.”

A little girl meets a dog available for adoption at the Hutchinson Animal Shelter booth at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

A family watches chicks at the Kansas State Fair, 2012.

Judges examine pumpkins at the Kansas state Fair, September 2012.

Holstein Cows, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Scarecrows, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

The sunflower is the Kansas State Flower, so it’s only fitting that sunflower seed heads have a special category at the Kansas state Fair.

Judges measure the longest gourd at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

What a sunny face!

No visit to the Kansas State Fair is complete without a trip on the train.

Prize-winning needlework, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Fruits and Vegetables, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Children play on the giant sunflower fountain at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Clothing Display, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

What is this bird? It’s in the 4-H Poultry Exhibition at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Kansas fish are displayed in the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism aquarium at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012. You can see the Sky Ride gondolas passing overhead.

Sorghum, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Mini Donkey Show, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

The Tin Man and Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz greet visitors to the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Quilts, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Note the sign of the Peterson Farm Bros, who are Kansas farmers. Check out their very popular video at the bottom, “I’m Farming and I Grow It.”

That engine is hot! A Ford pick-up truck is now a barbecue pit, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Ferris Wheel, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

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Filed under Kansas, Travel

I Like Ike

Ike, a five-year-old male cat awaiting adoption, knows how to get comfortable in his room at Wayside Waifs. What he'd really like is to hang out with you!

Ike, age five, is a great cat.  However, as much as I enjoy seeing him at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City when I go there to take photographs, I wish he’d find a forever home.  He’d be a great asset to your home.

Here’s what his biography says on the Wayside Waifs website: Are you looking for a twinkle of excitement in your life? Feel that too often life is lingering on the boring side? Well, do I have a solution for you! ADOPT ME! My goofy, yet sophisticated, personality is bound to knock your socks off. Couple that with my playful, frisky side and you definitely have a fun-loving bundle of entertainment 365 days a year! We can sit on the couch and I’ll whisper in your ear, “hey you, time for a belly rub – oh and don’t forget to rub the ears,” then, I’ll dive off the couch and bat around my play mice and jingle balls. You’ll giggle at me chasing my tail and laugh out loud as I stalk the dust bunny hiding under the coffee table. Sound like fun? Come see me at Wayside and let’s talk about making our connection permanent!

Click here for more information about Wayside Waifs.  Here’s a link to my previous post I’m Adorable! Take Me Home!  about Wayside Waifs, which contains a link to still another Wayside Waifs post with photographs of adorable cats and kittens, awaiting adoption.  See a pattern here? Fortunately, many of the cats and kittens pictured in those posts have found homes, thanks to wonderful people like you!  But there are always more animals coming into Wayside Waifs that need homes.

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Filed under Animals, Cats

Surf’s Up

Surfer in Huntington Beach, California Postcard zazzle_postcard

This surfer rides a wave near the pier in Huntington Beach, California. On the horizon is Catalina Island. Huntington Beach (Surf City USA) is known for its long 8.5-mile (13.7 km) beach, mild climate, and excellent surfing. The waves are a unique natural effect caused by edge-diffraction of ocean swells by the island of Catalina and the waves from distant hurricanes.

I love road trips, especially when I only do twenty percent of the driving.  In mid-September, my husband and I loaded up my minivan with some of the left-behind belongings of my daughter and her boyfriend and headed west to Huntington Beach, California.  Laura and Ryan had moved there in mid-August, making the drive in their two small cars jammed to the ceiling with their stuff.

Dozens of windmills in western Kansas produce electricity. They stand in the flyway of migratory birds, such as the endangered whooping crane.

Dozens of windmills in western Kansas produce electricity. They stand in the flyway of migratory birds, such as the endangered whooping crane.

I got the idea to make this odyssey when the Spiritual Rez band stayed at our house and talked about how much they loved traveling the country.  I hadn’t made a driving trip to the West Coast in a long while.  Our home state of Kansas is very familiar, but this time I tried to look at it with new eyes instead of wishing it away until that first exciting moment when we see the Rocky Mountains rise up from the horizon.  So eager are we to make progress that sometimes we make a mountain out of a cloudbank. I love the gradual change in landscape.

Morning in Dillon, Colorado, in September 2009.

Morning in Dillon, Colorado, in September 2009.

Mid-way through Kansas we saw Monarch butterflies fluttering across Interstate 70 as they made their annual migration to Mexico for the winter.  We saw scores of tall modern windmills slowly turning their blades, some overshadowing the old-fashioned farm windmills first erected in the 1880s.

As we drove through Colorado, Utah and Nevada, I recognized sights Laura had emailed me from her camera phone.  My husband and I have driven much of this route before, but it was still awe-inspiring.  I still gaped at every ridge and butte and mountain peak and begged for my husband to stop the car at every scenic turn-out during much of the drive.  When I was behind the wheel, we did stop at everything!  I wish there were scenic turnouts along the Flint Hills in Kansas, too.  Kansas Turnpike officials, are you there (wishful thinking)?

The first night we spent in Dillon, Colorado, which is ski country. There was a brew pub conveniently located right by our hotel.  The night air was crisp.  I’ve been to this area several times during ski season, but it’s so much more beautiful when you’re not freezing to death.  I won’t be visiting during ski season again.  My skiing days are over! I wasn’t much of a skiier to begin with. I’m so slow I should have an orange triangle fastened to my back, and I hate to be cold. And I don’t like snow, either!  Already in September, it was in the mid 30s when we headed back on the road.

Interstate 70 cuts through an ancient ridge north of Capitol Reef National Park in Utah.

Interstate 70 cuts through an ancient ridge north of Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. Doesn't this formation look like an ancient reef or the spiny backbone of a massive reptile?

Horses graze in a pasture at sunset in St. George, Utah.

Horses graze in a pasture at sunset in St. George, Utah.

The second day we drove through western Colorado and through Utah, spending the night in St. George, which we visited last November.  We toured our “old” neighborhood. We knew where the Walmart was, too.  Both visits to Wal-Mart we saw a few women with french-braided hair who were wearing long pioneer-style dresses with muttonchip sleeves. If you want to read my Utah posts, type in “Utah” in my search box. There are lots of great photographs!

We hurried through Nevada, stopping in Las Vegas only to get gas, and it seemed like forever to get through the desert of California to reach Huntington Beach.  Laura had said that seemed like the longest part of the trip, maybe because you’re so close to your destination but the desert never seems to end.

I've always loved Joshua Trees.  They look like sentries.  This one is near Interstate 15 in the Mojave Desert in California.

I've always loved Joshua Trees. They look like sentries. These trees, a member of the yucca family, are near Interstate 15 in the Mojave Desert in California.

Yeah, yeah, I know I just wrote that I never tire of it, that it was gorgeous and amazing.  Some parts do drag on a bit.  I thought about all of the immigrants who had plodded through these bleak, arid western lands in the 1800s on the California trail, which starts in our green part of the country of Kansas City.   I thought of “Death Valley Days,” “Wagon Train” and “Twenty-Mule Team Borax”  — two old television shows and a commercial that I barely remember beyond the titles.  I do remember Ronald Reagan was the host of “Death Valley Days” for a while. (Yes, this might be the spot for a political joke, but I won’t go there.)

I’m not going to recite a mile by mile account of this trip (although it seems like it so far), but I’ve got to have some words to hold the photos together in this post, like eggs beaten into a  cake.

Loki can't wait to go to the dog beach.  She has to wait until she's had all of her vaccinations. (Yes, Laura and Ryan got a dog the first month. We have their cat....)

Loki can't wait to go to the dog beach. She has to wait until she's had all of her vaccinations. (Yes, Laura and Ryan got a dog the first month they were in HB. We have their cat....)

Huntington Beach is a nice city, very laid-back it seems.  The city is located 40 miles south of Los Angeles.  Houses are packed very closely together because real estate there is very expensive, even now in this economy.  There are no buildings on the 8.5 mile-long-beach, so there’s an unobstructed view of the ocean and of Catalina Island.  It’s the longest open run of beach on the West Coast. It’s celebrating its 100th anniversary as an incorporated city this year.  It was called Shell Beach, later Pacific City and finally Huntington Beach in honor of H.E. Huntington who brought the Pacific electric Railway to the area.

Two surfers head out at sunset on Huntington Beach.  You can see an oil rig in the distance.

Two surfers head out at sunset on Huntington Beach. You can see an oil rig in the distance.

Here’s what the official Huntington Beach website has to say (yes, they like themselves very much!): “The dynamic coastal City of Huntington Beach, with its sunny Mediterranean climate and idyllic setting, is home to more than 202,250 residents. Internationally known as Surf City, Huntington Beach boasts eight miles of scenic, accessible beachfront, the largest stretch of uninterrupted beachfront on the West Coast. Tourism remains a vital part of the economy, as over 11 million visitors flock to the city during the summer, on weekends and for special events.

Wetsuits drying at a motel.

Wetsuits drying at a motel.

Our parks and recreation features one of the largest recreational piers in the world, public parks, riding stables and equestrian trails, a marina, and a wildlife preserve, and an eight-mile biking, inline skating, jogging, and walking trail along the ocean. The crown jewel of the recreation system is the wide expanse of beautiful and spacious beaches, where large crowds gather to watch professional sporting events as the U.S. Open of Surfing, AVP Pro Beach Volleyball and the Surf City USA Marathon.”

A surfer rides the waves of the "dog beach" in Huntington Beach. In the background is an offshore oil rig.

A surfer rides the waves of the "dog beach" in Huntington Beach, which is also popular with surfers. In the background is an offshore oil rig.

There are also oil rigs offshore, which surprised me.   There’s oil in this town!  I’m a little late in finding this out.  The oil boom began in the 1920s. A few “grasshoppers” oil wells pump away in a beach-view lot in town, walled off next to houses that must be worth millions. When the Spanish arrived, they established the area as a cattle ranch.  Beach Boulevard, the main thoroughfare of Huntington Beach, was originally a cattle route.

Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach.

Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach.

A hummingbird visits a flower near Laura and Ryan's courtyard.

A hummingbird visits a flower near Laura and Ryan's courtyard.

Much later, I read that an encylopedia company gave away free parcels of land, with the purchase of a whole set for $126.  I don’t know how true this is, but it makes a great story.  The encyclopedia company had obtained the land cheaply.  The company should have kept the land and forgotten about the books, because oil was discovered in the area the company had given away as a bonus with the purchase of encyclopedias. Now the price of land for housing has risen so high it has pushed many of the rigs off the landscape. Links to more history about the city are at the bottom of this post. The city has dozens of pristine parks, protected nature reserves and unspoiled wetland habitats, such as Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and the Donald D. Shipley Nature Center,

Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, is honored with a statue near the Surfing Walk of Fame at the pier plaza in Huntington Beach, California.

Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, is honored with a statue near the Surfing Walk of Fame at the pier plaza in Huntington Beach, California.

Huntington Beach is officially Surf City USA, a title it wrangled over with Santa Cruz, California.

Hawaii’s Duke Kahanamoku first introduced modern surfing in the United States in Santa Cruz, so you can see why that city might want to claim the title.  Kahanamoku is credited with popularizing surfing world-wide during the 1920s, after achieving Olympic swimming fame in 1912 and 1920.  The Surfing Walk of Fame is in Huntington Beach, featuring a statue of Kahanamoku.  I loved watching the surfers, seeing how they’d pop up onto a wave and ride it so gracefully.  I wasn’t tempted, though. That’s COLD water!  The International Surfing Museum is in Huntington Beach.

Links to information about surfing, Huntington Beach and Duke Kahanamoku are at the bottom of this post.  Later (probably much later), I’ll post about the Spanish Missions system, Catalina Island, South Pasadena and the Grand Canyon.

Surfers watch the waves on Newport Beach on a very foggy morning.  The surf was great, but the conditions were probably dangerous. A lifeguard pickup soon showed up and told everyone to get out of the water.  I was standing far back, but a huge wave lashed the beach, and I got splashed and covered with sticky sand.

Surfers watch the waves on Newport Beach on a very foggy morning. The surf was great, but the conditions were probably dangerous. A lifeguard pickup soon showed up and told everyone to get out of the water. I was standing far back, but a huge wave lashed the beach, and I got splashed and covered with sticky sand.

Part of the Surfing Walk of Fame in Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach, California.

Part of the Surfing Walk of Fame in Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach, California.

Wind surfers  sail along Huntington Beach at sunset.  In the distance is Catalina Island.

Kite surfers sail along Huntington Beach at sunset. In the distance is Catalina Island.

Surfers ride the waves along the "dog beach" in Huntington Beach.  This is a section of beach where dogs are allowed.

Surfers ride the waves along the "dog beach" in Huntington Beach. This is a section of beach where dogs are allowed.

Dogs enjoying the water on "dog beach" in Huntington Beach.

Dogs enjoying the water on "dog beach" in Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach Pier at Sunset.

Huntington Beach Pier was originally built in 1904 and rebuilt most recently during the early 1990s. Stretching 1,856 feet into the Pacific Ocean, it is the longest concrete municipal pier in California and a great place to watch "million-dollar" sunsets.

A surfer leaves for the day.  His board is tethered to his ankle so he won't lose it.

A surfer leaves for the day. His board is tethered to his ankle so he won't lose it.

A woman serves a volleyball at the Huntington Beach Pier beach volleyball court.

A woman serves a volleyball at the Huntington Beach Pier beach volleyball court.

Surfing Walk of Fame.

Duke Kahanamoku.

Huntington Beach, California.

Surfing.

Huntington Beach Official Website.

International Surfing Museum.

Surf City USA.

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Filed under Family, Friendship, Humor, Life, Photography, Sports, Travel

Gone to California….

Paddington's MySpace.png-2

Paddington is an awesome cat, so of course he has a MySpace. Here is an early version, before he moved to San Francisco. I hope you can read this screen shot of Paddington’s profile. It’s cute and funny, written with a little help from Laura and Ryan.

It’s getting awful lonely around here.  Everyone is moving to California.  First Paddington, then Laura and Ryan.Paddington, an awesome cat with a big personality, spent one wonderful year with us before his owner Cynthia claimed him in June.  Now he’s living in San Francisco. Laura and Ryan have moved farther south to Huntington Beach, Surf City USA.                                                                                                                       Some of you may already have read the tale of Paddington and Bones, a pair of Turkish Angora litter mates.  Five years ago in Lawrence, Kansas, my daughter’s friend Amber rescued their mother, who turned out to be pregnant (shocking, isn’t it?) Amber very cleverly and diabolically emailed a photo of the newborn pair of kittens to my daughter and her roommate Cynthia. It was love at first sight.  My husband and I were the lucky chumps who got to transport the little darlings by car to Boston.  They actually were quite good travelers. For more of this fascinating tale and cute photos, you can click onThe Brothers Angora, Chapter One.

This is the last time I saw Paddington. He was on his way to the airport.

This is the last time I saw Paddington. He was on his way to the airport.

The brothers lived together for two years in Boston, but split up after their owners’ graduation.  The boys were reunited last year, so we were briefly a three-cat family, although Malcolm refused to have anything to do with them.  When Paddington left,  Bones called forlornly for him.   Separated again? He could hardly believe it.  Who would he sleep with? Who would he tussle with?  (Yes, there was some sibling rivalry.)

Paddington, left, and Bones, before Paddington moved to San Francisco.

Paddington, left, and Bones, before Paddington moved to San Francisco.

Last week, Laura and her boyfriend moved to California, too, leaving Bones behind for now.  Bones wanders around the house yowling for them. I feel like  yowling, too.

The many faces of Paddington.

The many faces of Paddington, who has one blue and one amber eye, which is a trait often found in Turkish Angora cats.

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Family, Humor, Kansas City, Life, Personal, Pets, Relationships

Old Cowtown Museum Celebrates Independence Day

"Abraham Lincoln" visits Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas, to celebrate Independence Day.  Lincoln actually did visit Kansas once before he was elected president.

"Abraham Lincoln" visits Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas, to celebrate Independence Day. Lincoln visited Kansas in 1859, before he was elected president. Tom Leahy, a 4th grade teacher in Conway Springs, Kansas, portrayed Lincoln. See his comment below.

 A few decades ago, when I was a Girl Scout I spent a week during a couple of summers as a tour guide at a living history museum called Old Cowtown in Wichita, Kansas.  There were only a few buildings in those days, and it was hot and dusty, but I loved it! 

 This past weekend, I returned with my family to experience it as a tourist.  Old Cowtown Museum has grown and become even more of an Old West experience.  Now, instead of Girl Scouts, there are professional costumed re-enactors and guides.  The buildings are almost all authentic from the late 1800s and show what a midwestern cattle town was like.  The buildings are also now air-conditioned….so you can re-live the past more comfortably.

 Special events are planned throughout the year.  This past weekend, the museum celebrated Independence Day 1870s style.  “Abraham Lincoln” visited. Of course, he’s an anachronism, but he did visit Kansas once before he was elected president.  Brass bands played, there was an old-style baseball game — Lincoln played third base, gun fights between cowboys and ranchers, dance hall girls, pie-eating contests, watermelon spitting, a bucket brigade and wagon rides.  My nephews are champion pie-eaters.  We drank sarsaparilla (root beer) in the saloon.

We visited a homestead and saw a half-day-old calf in the barn.  The mother wasn’t too happy with our interest in her baby.  I never knew a moo could sound so threatening.   Every time I tried to focus my camera on the calf, the mother tried to head butt me.  Fortunately, the rail was in the way. 

In the grand finale, a couple of cow pokes placed two anvils together and blasted the top one with dynamite in the anvil shoot, which was one old-time way to celebrate before fireworks were available.  People do love to blow up things to celebrate!

There were so many activities, we didn’t get a chance to visit all of the buildings, including the Munger House, which was the home of Darius Munger, Wichita’s founder.  I was the tour guide for the Munger House as a Girl Scout, so now I have to return to Cowtown just to re-live my old guiding days.  New since my tour days is the home of the Marshall Murdock, who vigorously promoted the town through his newspaper. There are dozens of buildings, including two churches, a school house, many stores and professional buildings, a train depot, saloon and homes.

To see more of the experience, see my YouTube slide show below, which shows a lot of the action.  You can also click on Old Cowtown Museum.  Check out the map of the town on the Cowtown website.

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Education, Entertainment, Family, Gardening, History, Kansas, Life, Personal, Presidents, Travel

Father’s Day

My father holding me at Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate.

My father holding me at Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate.

Happy Father’s Day in honor of all fathers everywhere.   I lost my father in 1995, so Father’s Day will now always be a bittersweet day.  I treasure his memory and miss him so much. 
Below is an article about the rocking horses my father made for his grandchildren. Later, when he heard he had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — Lou Gehrig’s Disease), he hurried to complete the horses he was working on.  If you magnify the article on your screen, it is readable — if barely.
Rocking Horse Story.

Rocking Horse Story.

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Filed under ALS, Family, Health, Life, Personal, Presidents

Vitamin D — the Sunshine Vitamin

The Sun.  It fuels our world.  It's essential to life. The challenge is find the right balance of sun exposure and sun protection.

The Sun. It fuels our world. It's essential to life. We need sunlight to make Vitamin D in our bodies, but the sun's radiation can also cause skin cancer. The challenge is find the right balance of sun exposure and sun protection.

Avoid the sun.  Wear sunblock.  That’s my summer mantra.  Now that I’ve had some skin cancer removed, I’m even more paranoid about sun exposure. 

The darkest time of the year is here, so you’d think I could relax about sun exposure as I enter my annual winter hermit state, covered up and shivering by the hearth.  But no, I have a new worry:  I actually have to get outside to get some sunshine to make Vitamin D.  

Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine (ultraviolet B radiation) three times a week is supposed to be enough for most people, but this is tough in the winter when we’re swathed in fleece. I don’t even like to walk to the mailbox at the end of my driveway when it’s cold.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium to form strong bones and teeth and has many other important functions in keeping us healthy.   My dermatologist says that Vitamin D is the hot topic at dermatology conferences these days. Yes, I know, we’ve all heard and read about the wonders and miracles of this vitamin and that vitamin, only to find out later that taking extra this or that doesn’t help and can even hurt. I still have a huge jar of Vitamin E capsules that I thought was supposed to be good for me. Then studies reported Vitamin E as a supplement could be harmful.   Now I’m just hanging onto the almost-full bottle in case it comes back into favor. (By then, of course, if will be expired.)

 Researchers are continually finding out more about the importance of Vitamin D, including that we probably need more than previously thought and that it’s even more essential to maintaining good health than we’ve realized.

Vitamin D could play a role in the prevention of colon, prostate and breast cancers, for example.  The amounts in our bodies might affect our mood and our weight.  Vitamin D really could be essential to a sunny disposition and important in keeping us from piling on the pounds. 

Bottom line: Find out how much Vitamin D you need and get a little sunshine at least every other day.

The following information can get a little tedious, but it’s important, so pay attention.

You need sunshine, but not as much as the people in the posters are getting.  This woman is probably getting enough as she walks past posters on a tanning salon while walking from her home in the Seattle area to the grocery store on Dec. 22, 2008.  (AP Photo/Seattle Post-Intelligencer,  Andy Rogers)

You need sunshine, but not as much as the people in the posters are getting. This woman is probably getting enough as she walks past posters on a tanning salon while walking from her home in the Seattle area to the grocery store on Dec. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Andy Rogers)

A multi-vitamin with Vitamin D is probably enough for most people, but one size doesn’t fit all.  As you get older, your body isn’t as efficient at making Vitamin D, so you’ll need more Vitamin D in your diet, usually as an additive or a supplement.  My dermatologist told me to get 1,000 units of Vitamin D and a little sunlight (UV-B) every day, but you need to check with your own physician for the right amount for you. (See link below to article about children’s need for Vitamin D.)

Vitamin D isn’t naturally present in most foods, although it’s added to milk and cereal.  It’s in fish, such as salmon and tuna, in egg yolks and in cheese.  It’s also in cod liver oil, which is why we heard stories of a spoonful of it being forced on children in the past.

There’s also a danger of getting too much, which can cause increased kidney stones, nausea and mental confusion.  Vitamin D is stored in the fat, so if you take excessive amounts it’s difficult to get rid of.

We have to find a balance in protecting our skin from sun damage with the need for sunlight to synthesize Vitamin D.  The darker your skin, the more sunlight you need to make Vitamin D.  One of my biology professors suggested that Vitamin D is so important that it’s probably the main reason for differences in skin color.  The closer you to to the poles, the more difficult it is to get enough sunlight to make Vitamin D.  Conversely, darker skin protects against sun damage.

People with higher skin melanin (pigment) content require more time in sunlight to produce the same amount of vitamin D as do people with lower melanin content. As noted below, the amount of time a person requires to produce a given amount of Vitamin D may also depend upon the person’s distance from the equator and on the season of the year.

These people have the right idea.  Get outside in the winter, even if it's cloudy and snowy.  Just don't get frostbite or sunburned.

These people have the right idea. Get outside in the winter, even if it's cloudy and snowy. Just don't get frostbitten or sunburned. I need to take my own advice, because I don't even like to go to the mailbox when it's cold.

Latitude and altitude determine the intensity of UV light. UV-B is stronger at higher altitudes. Latitudes higher than 30° (both north and south) have insufficient UV-B sunlight two to six months of the year, even at midday, according to researchers.  Latitudes higher than 40° have insufficient sunlight to achieve optimum levels of D during six to eight months of the year. In much of the United States, which is between 30° and 45° latitude, six months or more during each year have insufficient UV-B sunlight to produce optimal D levels. In far northern or southern locations, latitudes 45° and higher, even summer sun is too weak to provide optimum levels of vitamin D.  A simple meter is available to determine UV-B levels where you live.

It’s a complicated, but important, subject.  To read more, here are some websites and articles:

NEW: What do you lack? Probably Vitamin D. (New York Times article)

Vitamin D Deficiency May Lurk in Babies

The Vitamin D Miracle.

What is Vitamin D?

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Filed under Biology, Diet, Family, Health, Life, Medicine, Nature, Personal

The Last Word

Remember!  Families have the last word.  My previous post was about narcissism.  This obituary works well with that theme. (Thanks, Henry.)  What will people remember about us?  Some people don’t care, of course.  They truly live in the now and the nobody else. 

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Filed under Family, Humor, Life, Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Personal, Random, Relationships

Mamma Mia!

My daughter “Lulu”and I were probably the only ones in the theater tonight who’d never seen any version of “Mamma Mia!” She’d gotten free tickets to a preview of the new sing-along version.  “Wanna go?” she asked casually. Lulu was ready to pass the tickets along to a friend who’s “Mamma Mia!” crazy, if I said no. 

I said, “Sure.”  I had a little headache, but I don’t get a chance to hang out with her that much. She’s busy, and she has a boyfriend.  Of course, on the way there, I put a crimp in the conversation when I found out she’d skipped a class. 

“Why?” I asked in that certain tone only a mother seems to be able to create.  She’s out of college, so it’s a class just for enhancement, but the old “never skip anything” in me came out.  This led to a discussion about life, and my headache started to get worse. My own fault. 

We thought we were getting to the theater early, but there was a long line of people waiting. We weren’t guaranteed a seat.  But it was fun just standing in line with people bedecked in tiaras and feather boas, distributed at the theater.  Soon a tiara was perched on my head, too.  Luckily, there were seats for us.  The movie was so much fun that I forgot all about my headache. 

The lyrics on the screen were very helpful, since — unlike most people in the theater — I didn’t know the words.  I didn’t sing out loud, and people who know my voice know why!  There were plenty of great singers in the audience, including members of the Heartland Men’s Chorus, so they didn’t need to hear my froggy voice.  Lulu said it seemed that the songs were written for the movie, not the other way around.  ABBA disbanded before she was born, so it was all fresh to her.  After the movie, my daughter and I both admitted we teared up a couple of times, including a scene between mother and daughter.  “Particularly after what we talked about in the car,” she said.  I’m available any time for another date!

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Filed under Entertainment, Family, Humor, Life, Movies, Music, Personal

Ho, Hum, Another Hummingbird

Is it our resident ruby-throated hummingbird, a male, or a female intruder? I can't tell.

Is it our resident male ruby-throated hummingbird, a juvenile male or a female intruder? I can't tell.

I’m not bored with the hummingbird at our feeder, but he does come often enough that I’m starting to take him for granted.  My husband calls out, “Hummingbird.”  Sometimes, I don’t look up.  I should.  The hummingbird will be leaving soon, and I’ll miss him.

Sometime in mid- to late September, most ruby-throated hummingbirds will begin a long journey, including a nonstop flight over the gulf to southern Mexico for the winter.

Is it a male or female ruby-throated hummingbird? You tell me.

Is it a male or female ruby-throated hummingbird? I'm guessing it's a young male, taking his time at the feeder, daring the older resident male to run him off. What do you think?

Another hummingbird has dashed in for drinks now and then, but it’s not a friendly cocktail party here.  The cock chases the tail of the intruder.  It’s one hummingbird to a territory!  I took some photographs this week of what may be a new hummingbird.  It didn’t look like our resident ruby-throated hummingbird. In the photograph, I don’t see any red at the throat, which is the sign of the male, so it might be an invading female. Or it could be a juvenile male that doesn’t yet have a red neck. The females have a rounded tail with white tips, the male’s tail is forked with no white. The males and females meet up for mating, but after that they don’t get along.  Both males and females have beautiful iridescent blue green backs.

My previous post on “our” hummingbird is here.

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Filed under Biology, Environment, Humor, Kansas, Life, Natural History, Nature, Personal, Photography