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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

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It was December 22, 1982; early in the evening. I was preparing to make lasagna for some friends who were coming to dinner. Suddenly, the lights and power abruptly ceased! We learned later that 70 MPH winds from a storm had caused this interruption. Power companies estimated that more than two million homes and businesses in California, Nevada and Arizona were without electricity as a result. As I gazed out our window, nothing but blackness met my eyes. The darkness was unsettling. Something I had always taken for granted was now gone. I began to ponder the vital part that light plays in our lives. Photosynthesis, for example; the process by which plants absorb sunlight and turn that energy into food. would not be possible without light. Our existence depends on it.

Just as light is necessary for natural survival, so the light of truth is essential for our spiritual well-being. Looking back, we can see how God placed lights; special people in our lives to guide us along the way. Our parents were the first. They nurtured us and illuminated our lives with good moral values, discipline, deep love and more. We owe them so much. Then there were others. Teachers, friends, ministers and pastors enlightened our paths as we left the nest. One light in particular who ignited our young lives was Lydia Miraflor-Thompson and her family. Lydia became a spiritual Mom to Mike and I. She took me in as an adopted daughter after I moved to California. Lydia taught us how to pray and walk close with God. Her young, twin grandsons showed me the importance of hiding the scriptures in my heart when they recited the 23rd Psalm to me. Because of Lydia, we learned to use wisdom. Her daughter Rachel and son-in-law Tom, were matron of honor and best man, and her daughter Evalani, sang in our wedding. All of her eight children and their families have been a blessing to us.

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The greatest Light of all, Jesus, came into the world and gave Himself so that whosoever would believe on Him should not abide in darkness (John 12:46). This light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehends it not (John 1:4-5). His light cannot be overcome by darkness. Whoever follows Him shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life. He is the Light of the World. The wonder of Christmas is its simplicity. This story holds no pomp and circumstance. Just the simplicity of the Divine. It is humbling to recognize that our human reasoning is often inaccurate, in that which matters. But it’s a good revelation to have. Because then we face the truth that God created us with limited perception, needing His direction, needing His Star in the darkness of night, to guide us. This Christmas, may the light of His life illuminate your heart to become a light to others.

Just one little flame in the darkness,
just one little flicker of light;
Just one small glimmer of brightness,
dispelling the darkness of night.
But, oh, what God did to the darkness
with one little flicker of light;
Oh, what God did with its brightness
When it touched just one other life;
Then two lights reached out with new brightness,
And soon there were four, and then more–
So quickly His light conquered darkness
as new lights flared up by the score.
No longer just one light in the darkness,
no longer just one tiny flame,
Now the world’s aglow with His brightness,
Since the Light of the world, Jesus came.
JESUS, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD – by L. Wolfe

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Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Climb to the Falls
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While vacationing in Yosemite earlier this month, Mike and I hiked to the top of Vernal and Nevada Falls. The slideshow above shows the highlights from our hike. It took us about 4 hours to reach the top of Nevada Falls. On the way via the Mist Trail, we were drenched, along with all the other hikers. The scenery was fabulous, a reminder of God's glorious creation. It only took us 1-1/2 hours to hike down, and by that time, we were exhausted, knees and joints aching, but happy that we did it! Yes, you can still hike, even in your 50's! We proved that! Woo Hoo!

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Creepy Crawlers

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A few days ago, we were staying with our friends Mike & Debbie in the beautiful little mountain town of Mariposa. We were driving around the area near sunset, just exploring and viewing the fall colors. As we were driving down a road which led to a small subdivision called “Royal Oaks”, we spotted something crawling across our pathway. Upon stopping the car and taking a closer look, we discovered it was a tarantula!! I immediately grabbed my camera and hopped out of the car to capture some shots of this creepy, but interesting creature.  Using Mike’s pen for scale, we took some pictures of the spider.  It was definitely not the “itsy bitsy spider” I grew up reading about in nursery rhymes.  By the time we were finished with our drive in this almost vacant subdivision, we had encountered nine sightings of these tarantulas; not sure if what we were seeing were the babies or the mamas, but they were BIG!   We decided this subdivision should be renamed “Royal Tarantula Estates”!!

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Mikie tries to make friends with the tarantula

Mikie tries to make friends with the tarantula

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Storms and Songs

The following excerpt from my devotional, “Streams in the Desert” spoke to my heart, and I would like to share it with everyone. May it be a source of encouragement.

“There are some natures that only a tempest can bring out. I recollect being strongly impressed on reading the account of an old castle in Germany with two towers that stood upright and far apart, between which an old baron stretched large wires, thus making an Aeolian harp. There were the wires suspended, and the summer breezes played through them but there was no vibration. Common winds, not having power enough to move them, split and went through them without a whistle. But when there came along great tempest winds, and the heaven was black, and the air resounded, these winds, with giant touch, swept through the wires, which began to sing and roar, and pour out sublime melodies. So God stretches the cords in the human soul which under ordinary influences do not vibrate; but now and then great tempests sweep them through, and men are conscious that tones are produced in them which could not have been produced except by some such storm-handling.”

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New Addition

Pierre the Red Cap Fish

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

In addition to the four goldfish in our backyard pond, we now have a new fish that we’ve named Pierre. Because of the red cap situated above his head, he resembles a French man, hence, the name Pierre. Pierre is a red cap fish from the goldfish family. Another name for this type of fish is oranda. An oranda is a fancy goldfish characterized by a prominent raspberry-like hood encasing its head. The hood or headgrowth (also known as wen) encases the whole head except for the eyes and mouth. Due to the fleshy outgrowth on the upper half of its head and sides of its face, the oranda has become one of the most popular goldfish. It is described as wen by the aquarists. The oranda is a metallic or matte scaled goldfish that is similar in appearance to the veiltail. It has a large, long and deep body accompanied by a long quadruple tail. This four-lobed and contracted tail normally spreads out broadly when the oranda stops swimming. The headgrowth of young fry may take one to two years to develop.[1][2] The oranda can reach 8 to 12 inches (20 to 31 centimeters) in length.[2][3]A specimen from China, named “Bruce” (after late actor and martial artist Bruce Lee), has attained 15 inches in length.[1] Sometimes the wen grows enormously covering its eye,due to this the eye sight is limited or no vision.These fishes should not be destroyed because they can still manage to survive. Special care should be given to the wen because it is prone to bacterial infections.Oranda can tolerate temperatures from 65-78 °F.More recently blue scale oranda have been developed but these fishes are very rare[5]. Oranda goldfish are especially sensitive to cold temperatures, more so than other goldfish.

Originally, Mike had purchased three orandas for our outdoor pond. However, a few days later, he found one and then two of the fish had been sucked into the bottom suction drain in our pond. Unfortunately, they did not survive. So today, Mike purchased an aquarium for the remaining oranda. Pierre seems quite content in his new home, which we have placed in Jeremy’s old room.   Feels like we’re parents again!  We hope to add a couple more buddies to Pierre’s home soon.

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Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

The morning again began with sunny, blue skies. After breakfast we packed up and said our goodbyes to our lovely cottage in the woods. We would always cherish the special time we shared there in commemoration of our 30th anniversary.
Last October, we had endeavored to hike around the valley floor. There is a trail that goes completely around the valley, but due to that time of year, we ran out of daylight before we could complete it. We had begun the hike at Curry Village and ended at the Yosemite Lodge. Today we were determined to pick up where we left off and finish this hike. We drove to the campground near the Yosemite Lodge and parked our cars. Today was warmer than yesterday, so we did not bring any jackets. We started our hike on the trail shortly before Yosemite Falls. On the way, we passed a group of people taking rock climbing lessons on one of the walls. It is always fun to watch them practice. Although this is not a sport or hobby I would ever care to undertake. Before long, we were again at lower Yosemite Falls. We did not linger here too long since we had just passed by here yesterday. The trail next led us deeper into the forest and started ascending higher up above the trees. We were very near the rock walls on the eastern end of the valley towards Royal Arches. At one point, we left the trail and climbed up a semi steep hill to the bottom of a large rock wall. Above the wall, an ephemeral cascaded down into a small pond. It was a tranquil setting. We also saw some rock climbers nearby up the wall. We ventured back down and continued on the trail. About a mile later, we arrived at the grounds of the Ahwahnee Hotel. We stopped by the gate keepers hut and took pictures. The trail next led us behind the Ahwahnee parking lot and again began to ascend higher back into the forest. We crossed a small foot bridge near Lahamente falls and saw the canyon where the Indians used to travel through to reach Yosemite Valley. As the trail neared Mirror Lake, it started to descend again. At times, we could see the bike path which we had been on many times before. But we were determined to stay on the valley loop trail and reach our destination of Mirror Lake. Once again, the trail ascended up into the forest. This was also part of a horse trail, and it seemed the higher we ascended, the more difficult the trail became. The trail was strewn with rocks and horse manure. It became slippery and somewhat difficult to continue one, not to mention the foul smell of the road apples we were encountering more and more. But eventually we did make it to Mirror Lake. How good it felt to dip my tired feet in its cold waters and be refreshed. We sat by the lake’s edge and ate our trail mix. Of course the local squirrels seemed to have some innate sense in them to know that we had food. They were soon coming up to us. Mike fed them a few peanuts. It was entertaining to watch them chew their food. Afterwards, we caught a shuttle bus back to our vehicle near Yosemite Lodge.
It was getting later in the day, and we needed to head to our next destination at Yosemite West. After a quick stop to the grocery store, we made the 20-minute drive to Yosemite West. We are staying at a small house called Cozy Bear. The entire décor of the home is a bear theme. The house has 4 different levels. The first level is a small living room area with a gas fireplace. The next level is a small kitchen that leads out onto an outdoor patio with a gas grill and table and chairs. The third level has our bedroom and a bathroom, and the 4th level has another bedroom. There is a 5th level, but it is locked, and we did not have access to it. The home is tastefully decorated, and very cozy, hence the name, Cozy Bear.
Jeremy and Molly arrived here at the Cozy Bear cabin around midnight. They are going to spend the next three days with us. We’ve looked forward to seeing them. We only visited for a short time after their arrival as it was late and everyone was tired. It felt good to lay our heads on our pillows for the night.

Bedroom at Cozy Bear

Bedroom at Cozy Bear

Ahwahnee Gate Keeper Hut

Ahwahnee Gate Keeper Hut

Pond & Waterfall below Royal Arches

Pond & Waterfall below Royal Arches

Below Royal Arches

Below Royal Arches

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anniversary ahwahnee

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

The morning of our 30th wedding anniversary began with sunny blue skies. After a delicious breakfast at the Curry Village Pavilion, we rode our bikes around the valley. Although it was mid June, the temperatures since we have been here have been in the high 50’s to low 70’s. It does not yet feel like summer. Our first stop was at the historic church in the valley. We always enjoy visiting this church. By this time though, part of the valley was beginning to fill with clouds, so the photo opportunities were not as ideal as we would’ve liked. From there we rode to the visitor center. We ate our meager lunch of granola bars near the Indian Village which is behind the visitor center. After that, we watched the film “Spirit of Yosemite” in the visitor center. We first saw this film in 2001, and it is still being show there. The footage carries many spectacular views of not only Yosemite Valley, but also Tuolumne Meadows and the high country. We had been told before that the majority of people who visit Yosemite do not venture any further than 500 feet from their vehicles. If that is true, it is a shame, because there are so many breathtaking places to see in this great park. Our first visit to Yosemite was on our honeymoon in 1979. We were so impressed with this place of such natural beauty, that we have returned again and again. There is so much to see, and we probably have not even scratched the proverbial surface of all there is to see in this great national park.
After browsing a brief while in the visitor center, we rode our bikes over to the trailhead for lower Yosemite Falls. On the way there, we ran into the O’Keefes again. They were heading over to El Cap meadow to watch the rock climbers on the wall. They are such a special couple, and we look up to them. We wished them well and rode over to the trailhead of the falls. We made the short hike to the footbridge where many visitors were enjoying the amazing view of the falls cascading from incredible heights down the mountainside. It took us longer to return from this hike as we were having so much fun taking photos and experimenting with our cameras. I am a beginner in the world of photography and have a lot to learn. Mike has been a big help to me.
From there we rode our bikes back to our cottage at the Ahwahnee and changed into our dinner clothes. We walked to the Ahwahnee and enjoyed some tea and cookies in the hotel’s Solarium. This room is behind the great hall and offers a good view of Glacier Point high above. The Ahwahnee has three main wings, and each wing was designed to face prominent scenes in the valley. The dining room faces Yosemite Falls. After we finished our tea and cookies, we wandered around some of the other rooms in the great hall and viewed old photos and relics of the past. At 5:30, we were escorted to our table to enjoy our 30th anniversary dinner. Mike had requested this special table, and we were happy that they were able to grant us our wish. The table is called the honeymoon table. It is located at the very back of the large dining room and sits in front of a huge window that I am guessing is probably 30 feet high. From out of this window, you can see Yosemite Falls. Mike ordered the Filet Mignon dinner, and I ordered the Alaskan Halibut plate. A basket of delectable breads was brought to our table. Before eating, we held hands, bowed our heads and thanked God for giving us 30 years of marriage together. In an age where more marriages appear to be failing than succeeding, we are so grateful to God for being with us all these years. When Jeremy and Molly were married last October, Pastor Stoops charged them to always keep God in the center of their marriage and to put Him first. If you do this, you will succeed. It was a special moment. We also ordered a watermelon salad. Neither of us had ever heard of this or tried it before. I was quite surprised with how pleasing it was to my palate. The watermelon was cut into small bite-sized cubes and arranged along with a few pieces of avocado on a thinly sliced dill pickle. There was a hint of mint seasoning on the melon along with some other spices. The combination was truly refreshing. For dessert, we each ordered the raspberry sorbet. The entire meal was delicious. We walked around the hotel and grounds before retiring for the evening. Thankful to God for this very special day.

Wedding Day June 16, 1979

Wedding Day June 16, 1979

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