Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Black woodpecker in Belarus

A real close-up

Canada goslings

A hanging nest in Sweden

This bronze, enameled rooster was buried with a child around 1000 AD in England.  At that point in time, the pretty bird would have been worth $400 to $500 (US) in today's currency.  How much that child must have been treasured!

Kentucky Oaks on Friday

Eleven fillies are entered to run in Friday's Kentucky Oaks, the girls' equivalent to the Kentucky Derby.  My husband, Jeffrey, was crazy over grey or roan horses, so he'd be betting big money on three of the gorgeous girls who are running.  While Bob Baffert isn't running a colt in the Derby, he has a grey or roan filly in the Oaks - Midnight Lucky.  Todd Pletcher has four ladies running, including the grey Silsita; while one of Bill Mott's trainees, Flashy Gray, is also a roan or grey.  If I were betting on looks alone, I'd go with Pure Fun and Flashy Gray.  Eight of the fillies were bred in Kentucky, with Princess of Sylmar bred in Pennsylvania, and both Silsita and Unlimited Budget are Florida-breds.  In bloodlines, I particularly like Dreaming of Julia and Silsita, followed by Beholder, Flashy Gray and Close Hatches. Following is the post position draw:
1 -  Silsita
2 -  Midnight Lucky
3 -  Beholder
4 -  Unlimited Budget
5 -  Seaneen Girl
6 -  Princess of Sylmar
7 -  Pure Fun
8 -  Dreaming of Julia
9 -  Rose to Gold
10- Flashy Gray
11- Close Hatches

Kentucky Derby Update

Sheeezzz...  78 degrees yesterday and 34 the predicted high for tomorrow (along with 5 to 12 inches of snow) - that's spring time in the Rocky Mountains!
  It looks as if there will be a full gate of 20 horses in this year's running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.  This is the 40th anniversary of the winning of the 1973 Triple Crown by Secretariat, also.   Trainer Bob Baffert is not running any horses in this week's Classic. Todd Pletcher, on the other hand, has five horses to saddle and five sets of instructions to give the riders of Charming Kitten, Palace Malice, Revolutionary, Overanalyze and Verrazano.  D. Wayne Lucas has two colts to saddle- Oxbow and Will Take Charge.  Kenny McPeek also has two horses, Java's War and Frac Daddy (the only grey/roan).  Aidan O'Brien has brought Lines of Battle from Great Britain, and a lot of folks are interested in Shug McGaughey's Orb.  I simply like the name of Black Onyx.
  NBC is showing 14.5 hours of Kentucky Derby week coverage - starting with the gate position draw on Wednesday.  NBC Sports Network will show the bulk of the coverage, with NBC itself showing 3 hours of coverage for the Derby itself.  I'll write more later....

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cool Houses Around the World


Swedish road sign

Clearing snow from Trail Ridge Road here in Colorado

Hope you have a happy week!

Bits and Pieces

I am very happy to be back at home, with kitty tails waving in my face as I type.  Actually, that was Nedi's tail and he has just trotted out the back door; Lovey is asleep in the cat tree.  It's 70 degrees outside, and we've had temperatures in the 70s since Thursday; the weather folks say that our high tomorrow will be 62 and that on Wednesday, May 1st, we will have rain and snow, with a high temperature of 36.  We still need the precipitation, and with the heat from these past few days, snow will melt quickly.  A foot of snow on Wednesday would be fine with me, but they say we'll get 2 to 6 inches....
  It's warm enough inside that I have the back window and back door wide open; I'm wearing shorts and a T-shirt; and I have the large fan running in the hall, blowing cool air into the main living area.  I took Lucy and Sadie on three walks each day for the past four days, and we walked about 15 miles each day.  I know that Remy won't get better, his problem is old age - but on days that it's Rosie and I, I can now feel good about taking her for a long walk without having an asthma attack, or without just being short of breath.  I can walk at top speed for two hours now.  It's a lot better than I was during my bronchitis, pneumonia, and whooping cough bouts this past winter.
   Trainer Bob Baffert has announced that he will not be running any horses in his care at the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.  ....  The New York Jets released Quarterback Tim Tebow from his NFL contract this morning before the day's practice began.  Tebow  has shown up for the past two weeks' practice, and is 12 pounds lighter than he was last season.  I hope that some team with sense will sign him to a contract and then actually use his skills!  ....  Last night, History Channel aired the last of this season's episodes of Vikings - and I understand that a lot of women fans are upset because Ragnar has become enamoured  with Aslaug.  In the sagas, Ragnar was married three times; Lagertha, Aslaug, and Thora Town-Hart.  He has at least three sons with Aslaug - Hafdan and Udda Ragnarsson and Ivar the Boneless.  This series is based on the old Norse sagas, and men were not faithful, even in the 10th and 11th centuries...  I'm looking forward to the next 10 episodes, which haven't even begun filming.  However, I must admit that I shall miss the presence of Leif (played by Diarmard Murtaugh) - he offered himself to the Gods in episode 8, and I always find myself looking for him in background  scenes.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Interesting Views (At Least, I Think So)

A 6th century Viking ironing board made of whale bone, the green flattening stone, and a bone hair comb; displayed at the History Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.

From the Vikings TV show - (from left) Leif with shield, Athelwulfe (King Aelle's brother), Ragnar leaning on his horses neck, and Rollo

The symbolism of the Vikings logo on History Channel

Known Norse symbols

The 8th episode of Vikings was about the sacrifices at the Hall of the Gods in Uppsala, which happened every nine years.  The stone building on the right is the Old Town Uppsala (Gamla Uppsala) Cathedral that was built on the site of the Hall of the Gods; the red building at left is the bell tower.

Boulder Sinkhole, TV, Bits & Pieces

Just a quick bit today...  The street in front of my apartment complex is closed, and has been since early Thursday morning; a water main broke, causing a huge sinkhole that swallowed the entire street and some sidewalks.  It was originally announced that Folsom Street would be reopened Friday morning, but the folks are now saying sometime this week, as they have "run out of" needed materials.  Several bus routes have been diverted, and it's making life around here interesting; trying to figure out how to get where with one of the main roads to the University of Colorado campus closed.  I guess it's good that it happened now, because the road that fell is a part of the Bolder Boulder race course on Memorial Day next month.
  I'm keeping busy.  Lucy and Sadie are used to walking at least 14 miles every day, and I certainly have my wind-endurance back for long walks now.  We've already had our 6 mile morning walk and I'm at home with my kits for a few hours before heading back to the yellow girls.  Their folks come home sometime tonight, and they will find me curled up before the TV, watching this season's last episode of Vikings on the History Channel.  And - hooray! - Vikings has been renewed for 10 new episodes and will begin filming in about 6 weeks.  That's exciting!  I know that three of my other favorite shows have been renewed, but I'm still awaiting word on Vegas.  Co-producer, star, and occasional director Michael Chiklis says that the series will be renewed - and I really hope that is true!
   The Kentucky Derby is next Saturday - the big question, as always, is who will win the 1 and 1/4 mile race?  I'll be writing about the horses, jockeys and trainers; as well as listing my picks during this coming week.   .....   My sister and brother-in-law's "Big Red" Toyota has finally died after 26 years of service.  They are getting a new vehicle.  I'll be interested in seeing what is purchased.   ....   I had a huge spike in "readership" yesterday; a couple of photos that I posted of Marcus Lattimore on his 21st birthday were viewed more than 500 times.  I like and admire this young man for his determination and work ethic; and I'll always be cheering for Marcus, whichever team he plays for in the NFL.  .....  Tugger, the cat I was worried about the previous week, had surgery on Wednesday.  He stopped breathing when given anesthesia, and before the actual surgery occurred.  He was revived, and has spent 3 days in Kitty ICU - he was allowed home Friday evening, and I'm going to stop by and visit him this afternoon.  He isn't interested in eating at this point in time, and I'm going to see if I can get his appetite stimulated.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Away for Four Days

I'll be back early Monday morning, but I don't know if I'll have time to blog after today...  Going to another house, where I don't have Internet access, and a pretty long walk to a the closest bus stop.  I'll be home daily to love and feed Nedi and Lovey, and to clean their potties, but, depending upon how excited they've been and whether or not they've wrecked the apartment, will decide how long I have to be on-line...
   It's a gorgeous morning here and temperatures are supposed to gradually rise through Monday, with a high then in the mid-70s.
   Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring Critters

A three week old porcupine cub

Crowned crane

Newly sheared alpacas

Baby Eric does not look amused...

Swedish dormouse

Swedish Family Background

I know that I go overboard in some of my enthusiasms.  Knowing that my Mother was half Swedish and a quarter Danish, I've always had a small interest in my Scandinavian heritage, but I honestly found the British part more interesting.  I have researched our family tree, but still have a few "sticking points" - mainly with my great-grandparents, who had very common Swedish names, and whose names I've been told in an Anglicized manner:  Andrew Johnson and Hannah Olson.  Watching the Vikings series on History Channel has made me want to know more. I want to know more about my family's Swedish heritage and Danish heritage.  I have been able to trace our Danish family back to 1597 in the church records at Gyllinge, Jutland, but our Swedish background remains a mystery to me.
  I know that my great-grandparents sailed to America in 1890 to await the birth of their child, my grandfather, Johan Waldo Johansson.  Poppop was duly born in Hoboken, New Jersey, christened in the Swedish Lutheran Church there, and sailed back to Sweden at the age of two weeks.  I know that he was raised in southern Sweden - a red velvet-covered photograph album was left after his death, filled with hundreds of photos  (and not a single one identified) that had been taken mainly in Karlskrona (at the studio of Karl Karlson), a few in Malmo, and one in Stockholm.  There was also a letter that was written from Christianstad.  There are, of course, many variations of the spelling of Johansson, and one can find a great variance in Andrew: Anders, Andreas, Ander, etc.  There are also many ways to spell Olson, and a few alternative spellings of Hannah.  What I need to do is look at the 1900 church rolls for southern Sweden...
I also know that Grandfather had a brother named Ben, but I have no idea whether Ben was older or younger, born in Sweden or the US...  And I have no idea regarding the ages of Poppop's parents...  *sigh*
This is one of the things that keeps me digging into records.
  I did notice one "odd" thing yesterday - I had been looking at a rune stone, set near Kallby, Sweden.  This stone is inscribed, "Styrlakr placed this stone in memory of (Karr?), his father."  The carving with it looks like someone dressed in a jumpsuit, with delineations of boots, gloves, and waist.  The head appears to be either a canine with droopy ears, or possibly a deer, as there are antlers carved above the head.  Last night, I was looking at a carving found on Baffin Island - it's identified as being a native hunter, carved by the Dorset tribe, who lived on Baffin at the time Vikings from Iceland were known to have visited.  Do you see the similarities, also?  Comments are very welcome!
This photo of the Kallby rune stone was taken by Peter Karlsson.

Dorset hunter carving found on Baffin Island

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More Colorado Snow Photos

Robins in Boulder, Colorado snow

Snow doesn't respect blooms and buds

These elk say, "Yep... Still snowing."

A statue of John Otto, his horse Rowdy, and his dog

Wet snow weighs down springy pine boughs

Lots of Things...

It is still snowing outside; perhaps we will not be under water restrictions this summer, after all.  Before this ends, it's been predicted that we will get 9 to 12 inches of snow.  Believe me, I am not complaining.  We need the moisture desperately - and even though my apartment sits beside Boulder Creek, I don't have any fears of flooding, like the folks along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and their tributaries.  We might reach 32 degrees today, but it seems unlikely; just like the forecasters say we'll have temperatures in the 70s this weekend.  I'll believe it when it happens.
  All of my critters are doing well - although Nedi is a bit miffed with me because I made him come back inside after playing in 19 degree weather in the snow for an hour this morning.  He is currently looking regal on top of the bookcase, while Lovey is curled up in bed.  Squirrels visited the patio throughout the day yesterday, but none have appeared so far this morning.  The ravens and crows called to me raucously until I fed them half a loaf of wheat bread this morning.  If I don't accede to their demands, they land on the back of my wicker chairs next to the window and flap their wings, which drives my kits crazy....  Those birds are not dumb.
  I started reading Night Moves by Randy Wayne White last night; it's the twentieth Doc Ford mystery-adventure novel in the series.  And this one seems focused on the loss of Flight 19 - the five planes that disappeared on 5 December 1945 from Fort Lauderdale on a routine flight mission.  My father was a part of the search for the planes and 14 crew members while he was stationed at Vero Beach, so I'm finding this to be an excellent read.  And I was supposed to see my therapist this morning, but she has been subpoenaed for a court appearance today, and we had to reschedule - at 8 o'clock last night.
  I watched DaVinci's Demons on Starz last night, and decided that I'm getting old and prudish.  The sex scenes didn't bother me, but I found the language somewhat offensive.  Other than that, it seems to be a very entertaining show; witty, well-written, and fast-paced - and very colorful.  But I must say that my favorite limited series so far is still Vikings on the History Channel. Episode 8 is titled "Sacrifice" and deals with the gathering at Uppsala every 9 years.  I was excited to learn that the Gamla Uppsala Cathedral was built on the original Hall of the Gods, where sacrifices were made - and that it still stands today.  I think I'm going to have to travel to Sweden and Denmark before I die and visit my ancestral roots.
  In horse racing news:  Zenyatta now has a full brother, a bay colt born at Ashford Stud on April 9; but I have yet to see photos of him.  ....  Kentucky Hardboot trainer Ron McAnally won the San Juan Capistrano Handicap for the third time this past weekend; he first won the race with the great John Henry.  ....  Goldikova, the mare who won the Breeders Cup Mile three times, has a full brother named Anodin.  He won his first race in his three-year-old campaign this week.  Anodin is trained by Freddie Head, like his sister.  ....  And eleven horses belonging to the Godolphin Stables have tested positive for anabolic steroids in Great Britain.  Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni states that he did not realize that using anabolic steroids while the horses were not currently racing was illegal.  Certify, who was being pointed at the 1,000 Guineas, tested positive and will not be allowed to compete.  Simon Crisford, the spokesman for Godolphin Racing said, "His Highness Sheikh Mohammed was absolutely appalled when he was told and this is completely unacceptable to him. We will await the outcome of the BHA inquiry before taking any further internal action. Sheikh Mohammed has instructed me to begin an urgent review of all of our procedures and controls. That is already underway and we will take advice from the BHA in completing it."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sweden Views

Looking over the town of Arild, Sweden

Misty Inglestorp, Sweden

Windmill in southern Sweden

Off Karlskrona, Sweden

Sunset on Lake Bolmen