Monday, June 30, 2008

USA Baseball at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park

Sunday afternoon I had a pleasant time with a pal at the DBAP watching the USA Baseball National Team vs. Chinese Taipei. (Click on any picture to make it larger.)

Safe! Here's a slide back to 2nd base:

It wasn't exactly a nail-biter of a game (the USA team won handily) but it was a nice late afternoon, the beer was cold, and it'd been a while since I'd had a hot dog and beer and listened to the crack, sometimes literally, of the bat. Clouds began building during the game and sure enough in the 8th the storm hit with a fury, blowing loose bulletins and empty paper cups into the air and dumping rain fast and furious.

The pitcher for the Taipei team had a very low and interesting pitch:

No game would be complete without Wool E. Bull in his crazy go-cart, sumo wrestlers, and of course, a rousing rendition of YMCA:

It's a great way to spend the afternoon--even if you're not a big baseball fan. I can't believe I was kind of out-of-the-loop on enjoying baseball games until I went with friends a few times recently and I realized I truly enjoy it. And nothing beats seeing how much the kids love the game . . . and getting pictures with Wool E. Bull and drippy sticky sno-cones and the thumping music and the gestalt that is a baseball game.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

"You will always be Rose of Sharon to me . . . "

Props to my friend Jeff Hart on his great song "Rose of Sharon" which I'll forevermore hear in my head as I look out of my kitchen window and see my Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), also called an "Althea," blooming in my backyard:

I don't understand you,
all I know is that I love you
and that's a start.
If I can't have you,
and if I can't hold you in the dark . . .
You will always be Rose of Sharon to me
somewhere in your memory, save a kind word for me.

~ Jeff Hart, Rose of Sharon

I strongly suspect Jeff didn't write it for the flowering shrub, but it's a beautiful song, and it's lovely to see the Rose of Sharon blooming, not just in my yard but in others' yards too this time of year. I don't know who planted mine as it was here long before me, but I thank them.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New York City waterfalls

"Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east
is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like
applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.
Now, uh... now you tell me what you know." ~ Groucho Marx

New York City has a cool new public temporary art installation, utilizing so-called "negative space":

A first hand description is here:

"This morning, as dawn broke, it looked as though the Brooklyn Bridge had sprung a gigantic leak: There's a 100-foot tower of scaffolding just under the roadway on the Brooklyn shore, with water cascading from the top — at a rate of around 9,000 gallons of water a minute.

There are three other waterfalls like the one under the bridge: one on the Manhattan shore on the Lower East Side, another on the Brooklyn shore near Brooklyn Heights and one on Governors Island in the middle of New York Bay.

The falls are between 80 feet and 120 feet high . . ."

Sounds enthralling, and I'd sure like to be able to see those before they go away, but that's probably not in the cards.

I have to say that my favorite outdoor art installation using water has to be the Crown Fountain permanent exhibit in Chicago by Jaume Plensa that I've had the good fortune to visit several times, even to shuck off my shoes and happily walk around in the water. Nothing beats watching the kids squeal and play, and to watch the faces on the towers. I took the following 2 pictures in 2006:

And its best at night, in my opinion:

Several years ago we happened upon an intriguing art installation by Japanese artist Murakami at Rockefeller Center. Several of these kinds of sculptures set up for people to ponder, touch, and enjoy:

I'm always drawn to water wherever I am, so I really love it anytime art and water collide. My dream for Durham would be to have some public art installations, especially interactive ones, around downtown, in addition to the "river" at the American Tobacco complex, which is beautiful. This pic I snapped a few weeks ago:

Heck I even like the waterspout installation at Northgate Mall, near the cinema. Note to self, must get picture of that.

Collapsible Rain Barrels at Costco

Last January I blogged about ordering a collapsible rain barrel from an online vendor.

Last night I saw that Costco has them for $55 on that main aisle that you walk beside when you enter the store (in Durham).

100 gallon capacity. Looks really sturdy. We got one last night. Don't know how fast they'll go off the shelves, but this is just an FYI if you haven't gotten a rain barrel yet. And it has a spout made into it already.

It's made by "Heaven + Earth" and it looks pretty much like the one on this page. I couldn't find it on Costco's website.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Brunch at Alivia's

Lately one of my favorite relaxing things to do is to enjoy brunch with friends on Saturday or Sunday morning at Alivia's, at the corner of Main and Gregson Street. First of all, it's close by. Second, the coffee is some of the best in town. Also, it's not cramped and you can easily spread out a newspaper and read without feeling rushed. There's plenty of space on the inside of the restaurant and on the outside too, where there are some tables in the shade to be found. It's relaxed and the staff is pleasant and not obtrusive or too-darn-peppy. I hate too-darn-peppy, particularly on the weekends before Noon.

My favorite dish for brunch is the Poached Egg with Steak Hash, and with a steaming cup of fresh coffee too. When I eat this, I'm not ready for supper until late in the day. Some of my friends' favorites are the Shrimp and Grits, and the Stuff Challah French Toast. To tell the truth, I've never seen anything coming out of the kitchen that didn't look delicious.

Poached Egg with Steak Hash

Stuffed Challah French Toast

Shrimp and Grits

After brunch, it's nice to stroll around BrightLeaf Square a bit, and I always find myself in Off-Beat Music, browsing the CDs and happily patronizing our local merchants over the big-box stores.

Have a great Sunday in Durham . . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Durham tonight

Sun setting in the west . . .

Standing in nearly the same spot, 30 minutes later the Soltice Moon rises in the east . . .

A few more photos. Continuing construction of the Transportation Center . . .

The New Improved Durham Bull and the Lucky Strike smokestack . . .

Part of the AmTob Complex & some skyline:

A beautiful evening.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Soltice Moon" Illusion on Wednesday night

Sometimes you just can't believe your eyes. This week is one of those times.

On Wednesday night, June 18th, step outside at sunset and look around. You'll see a giant form rising in the east. At first glance it looks like the full Moon. It has craters and seas and the face of a man, but this "moon" is strangely inflated. It's huge! [Moonrise here in Durham will be at 9:00 pm Wednesday night. -- DBP]

You've just experienced the Moon Illusion.

There's no better time to see it. The full Moon of June 18th is a "solstice moon", coming only two days before the beginning of northern summer. This is significant because the sun and full Moon are like kids on a see-saw; when one is high, the other is low. This week's high solstice sun gives us a low, horizon-hugging Moon and a strong Moon Illusion.

Sky watchers have known for thousands of years that low-hanging moons look unnaturally big. At first, astronomers thought the atmosphere must be magnifying the Moon near the horizon, but cameras showed that is not the case. Moons on film are the same size regardless of elevation: example. Apparently, only human beings see giant moons.

Oh, and also, there is no such thing as a full moon either according to this.

Moon rises over Topsail Island, 2006:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cuteness overload

From the Norway Post:
Four lion cubs born in Norway (June 6, 2008)

At the Kristiansand Dyrepark (Zoo) the lioness Sera is the proud mother of four cubs born on Saturday morning, the
first ever lion birth in Norway.
First reports had the number at three, but on Sunday a fourth came into view.
The zoo imported two male and two female lions when opened its Africa Theme Park just last year.
They have a really great live-streaming webcam trained on the 4 babies and the mother. It's worth a watch if the floods, crop failures, tornados, and earthquakes are getting to you.

Also a little more on them at the Zoo's site here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Smoky Durham.

As I blogged earlier, the smoke and its acrid smell from the wildfires in eastern NC has overtaken Durham.

Here's what it looked like downtown today, and here's the Urgent Weather Statement that the National Weather Service has issued on its site regarding the smoke. Click the pic to make it larger.

Yikes. The smoke!

The winds have blown the acrid smoke smell and the smoke itself into the skies over the Triangle. It's coming from the awful wildfires at the NC coast.

Here's WRAL's Raleigh skyline webcam right now:

Amazing AP aerial photo of the fire from earlier in the week:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The ol' sneaky dip n' sip

She doesn't care if the coffee is hot, or even if it has cream or milk in it. If you leave it unattended, she will be indulging her coffee habit by dipping her paw in it and licking it off her paw. I cannot tell you how many cups of coffee I've had to pour out over the years (she's 14) because I forgot about the damn cat's addiction. I've had other cats, none were coffee fiends.

First, make sure the coast is relatively clear.

Then stick the paw in the coffee, soaking it. Evidently, concentration is key.

Yummy, a nice robust blend.

Friday, June 6, 2008

This beauty is making my whole backyard cheerful

I was worried about my Oak Leaf Hydrangea last year because it was so very dry. It drooped and drooped, very sad, and finally lost all its leaves early.

But it bounced back this Spring! It's not a fussy shrub and I like that about it. Mine is about 4 or 5 years old and was practically a twig when I first planted it.

Oak Leaf Hydrangea

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A walk around "the wall"

A walk around the path at the East Campus Wall at Duke is beautiful, any season. One of my very favorite things to do, in fact. Even tonight, when at 8:30pm, the thermometer was still reading in excess of 90 degrees.

The magnolias are blooming now and they smell so sweet, but not as sweet as the Linden trees. Nothing compares to that scent--mmmm, so nice it stops you in your tracks. Other things that were pleasant to observe on this night: a Very Serious game of soccer by some young Latino guys on the grass near Broad and Markham; a fellow placidly doing T'ai Chi under the canvas of one of the enormous trees; a softball game at the brightly lit Williams Field; a 'beach' volleyball game on the big square of sand cut into the grass across from Whole Foods; some middle-school age guys walking the path and dribbling their basketball--either going to or from a pick-up basketball game I suppose.

People on the path were either serious about walking or running, earbuds attached, or just strolling and talking. Some (such as myself), sans blaring music in the earbuds, just enjoying the sounds of a lazy humid evening in the city. There was one couple hand-in-hand, others with kids in strollers, and dogs on leashes happily panting and trotting along.

Most everyone is willing to give a smile, or a nod of the head to say, "Hi neighbor."

Pic taken last fall on my walk around the wall:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pollen Baskets

Lenore's beautiful picture over at her blog reminded me of a picture I took last month of a bee slurping the nectar out of an azalea bloom at Duke Gardens. Since I know next to nothing about bees, I was perplexed about the gobs of yellow on its legs so I looked it up. I was afraid something was wrong with the bee, but thankfully no. Pollen baskets are what they are called. If I learned that in school in science class at some point, I had completely forgotten it. The picture may have captured a couple of droplets of nectar falling away from the bloom as well. Messy eater?

Happy Springtime, Durham!

Congratulations George Brownridge!

You're my latest internet chuckle. I guess this is probably your 15 minutes of viral web fame. (click to make pic larger)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"Taste of India" opening June 1st.

We decided to have some Chinese food for dinner and went over to one of our favorite places, Eastern Lights on University Drive--behind Target. Eastern Lights has the best dish, Baby Eggplant in Garlic Sauce, that we always get. Highly recommend that.

The exciting thing was that beside Eastern Lights, there used to be an El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant, but now the sign says "Taste of India" and the handwritten sign on the door says "Opening June 1st."

I couldn't resist peeking inside (well, the curtain was pushed back after all) and there were some people eating at one of the tables near the window, but I suspect it might've been friends or family of the owners/employees. I couldn't get a good look inside because I didn't want to freak the people out who were trying to eat.

Not really finding anything much out about it by googling the name.

At any rate, can't wait to try this place out, and I thought you might want to give it a try too!