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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Panama


I feel like the past five months of my life have been consumed with PANAMA! My two BFFs and I took a trip this summer and since January it has been plan, plan, plan. Many years ago I read about the cloud forests of Panama, near Boquete, and this piqued my interest so much--and of course the crazy engineering marvel of the Canal- I told myself that if I ever went abroad again, it would be to Panama. Well then my friend Trace convinced me to go to Peru and I really got bit by the travel bug! This August- my dream came true! We went to Panama!

View of Panama City from Metropolitan Park


We spent 4 days in Panama City & surrounds, seeing Casco Viejo, the Amador Causeway, hiking Metropolitan Park and Soberania National Park, visiting the Miraflores Locks, birdwatching in Gamboa and kayaking the Canal in Lake Gatun. We explored the city from the touristy bits to deep into the inner city. We binged on any traditional Panamanian fare we could find!

Boating past a ship on the Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal
Amador Causeway, Panama City

Church in Casco Viejo, Panama City
Kayaking trip along the Canal into Lake Gatun's beautiful waters!
Kuna Indians selling their beautiful appliqued Molas (I couldn't resist... I bought 5 on the trip!!)
Basilisk on one of Lake Gatun's islands.

A Diablo Rojo in Panama City
Panama Viejo, the original city settlement.

Beautiful morning overlooking the canopy at Soberania National Park.
Trapiche, a restaurant with traditional foods... we couldn't resist the Fiesta Platter! 

Chestnut Billed Toucans at Soberania National Park
View from our hostel in the El Dorado neighborhood of Panama City

After  packing 4 days full in Panama City, we took an overnight bus from Albrook Bus Terminal overnight, across the country, to the city of David and then up to Volcan, a small mountain community near the border of Costa Rica. We spent another four wonderful days at Mount Totumas, an ecolodge high in the Cloud Forest. It was incredible!


Not sure, but I think this might be a Green Crowned Brilliant?

Silver Throated Tanager

View from Bellbird Lodge

Lots and lots of Howler monkeys! :)

Glass Winged Butterfly

Our cabin at Mount Totumas

Puma track on the trails near our cabin


Me and the BFFs next to a 600 year old wild avocado tree!

Sulfer-Wing Parrot
We also spent a day in Boquete, visiting a coffee farm and seeing the village, before heading back to Panama City for our flight home. What an adventure! I wouldn't ever label myself as a confident traveler- I hate to fly, have a lot of anxiety being away from home- but seeing the world and how other people & cultures live is a true Gift. It's also a big kick in the pants for my creative spirit, which I hate to admit has been rather dejected lately--AND for re-learning the Spanish that has been fading from my mind since I graduated from college many moons ago--!

I will always treasure this week with my friends, the amazing things we saw and the crazy things we did en el pais de Panama!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thankful


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

This year I not only had Thanksgiving with my family but also "Friendsgiving" with my two best friends and their dogs. Despite an unfortunate incident involving myself, my friend Trace, and two of our dogs with Pepe La Pew (RIP), I spent the weekend thinking about how blessed I was/am to be surrounded by such love and support, both 2- and 4-legged. It's so easy to go through every day forgetting little things like this. Sometimes stress and anxieties cause you to lose focus of what really matters in this short/amazing life of ours.

At breakfast every morning, I usually go through a morning devotional or read a chapter of a spirituality-focused book. This morning I also made a list of things I was thankful for. It included:


  • My family, my friends, and my dogs
  • My education, which has provided so many opportunities
  • My creative endeavors which give me such joy
  • A small but warm home with only 10 years of mortgage left 
  • A full fridge, and never having to worry about my next meal
  • A working vehicle that tows my camper so well
  • A short commute
  • My day job, which I love
  • My evening "art" job, which I love
  • The internet, which wasn't around when I was young, and helps me stay in touch with family, friends and penpals near and far
  • An old furnace and hot water heater that keep plugging away-!
  • Wonderful hiking trails so close to home, that allow me to live in the city but have nature & country-life at my fingertips
  • A church I love and where I feel "at home"
  • A love of learning new things
  • Neighbors who don't mind my ever-barking Foxhound :)
  • Living in a country that allows free speech and expression
  • Growing up in a home that instilled a respect and love for God in me, even if I refused to acknowledge that during my teenage years (lol). Now, as an adult, knowing that there is a Higher Power in control, that there is more to life than just the material things on this earth, that I have a purpose to find and fulfill... it's such a comfort for me. 
I hope everyone out there in "internet land" also had a wonderful holiday! Happy Thanksgiving to all, 2- and 4-legged alike.

-Jen

Monday, November 21, 2016

Winter in 1, 2, 3, 4


 Friday... 69 degrees, partly-cloudy goodness!


Saturday... 75 degrees, sun shining!








Sunday... 29 degrees, dark, snow is a-comin'!






And one more, for good luck... Monday, still dark, still snowing... almost 16" on the ground at lunch hour!



Monday, November 14, 2016

With a Little Help From His Friends

Here is a story I've been meaning to tell... with a great ending, no less!

Three weekends ago we had a really cold, bitter storm come through. Flood warnings, 40 degree temps, pouring rain. It was a pretty rough 2-3 days and by the end of it the pups and I were a bit stir-crazy from being stuck in the house. Seven PM there was a small break in the weather, so I grabbed the leashes and we made a quick break for it. I figured if we could get a LITTLE walk in, maybe that would take the edge off their ya-ya's.

It wasn't long into our walk when we were joined by a scared, emaciated pit bull puppy. He stunk of urine, was infested with fleas and had an obvious eye anomaly (I'm not a vet, but it looked like "Cherry Eye" to me). Awww. My heart broke for the lil' guy. Who could let him get in such bad condition?!?!

I knocked on the doors of a few local houses, but no one claimed to know him.

So...we took him home.


He was a little anxious (no surprise, especially since Lela wouldn't stop snarling and being a general azzhat towards him) so I set up Joey's crate, gave him some warm blankets and a covering so he wouldn't feel so exposed. He got some warm meals and biscuits, and slept soundly all night like a good boy.

The little man's next stop was some time in the clinker, waiting for his "owner" to reclaim him. I was very nervous about this, because a) his owner had obviously neglected him badly, and 2) the clinker is overrun with pit bulls, and I was concerned that with his bad eye he'd be automatically put on the euthanasia list. I felt distraught and guilty. I couldn't keep him though- Lela was in such a tizzy and Joey wasn't very happy, either. And three dogs was one over my personal "limit." I prayed something would come through. My friend and fellow artist Christie made some calls, but the clinker told her that it was unlikely he would be taken by a local rescue because eye surgeries can be expensive. It wasn't looking very good.

But then --answered prayer!

I winged an email to a local group, pleading for the little pit bull, and within a day they emailed back and said they were on it! They pulled him from the clinker, got him settled at the rescue, and promised they would give him all the time he needed. They nicknamed him "Bobby" and said they would appreciate any financial help for the surgery.... so... what to do... we went to work! I created a "Bobby linocut" and offered to send one to anyone who donated something--anything--to the rescue in Bobby's name. Nothing Gofundme wise, just a few plugs and shares on my Facebook page.

Would you believe it--we raised the funds--and then some!

Starting to work on the "Thank You" linocut for all of Bobby's donors.




This was my first attempt at a 2 block jigsaw print... and it ended up being a lot of fun! This was the blocks and the test print.




Oh happy day!!

I went to visit Bobby this weekend, and he is doing GREAT- gaining confidence, putting on much needed weight. He is getting ready for his eye surgery and neuter this week, and then will be ready for ADOPTION! Meanwhile, my linocuts are just about dry and ready to go in the mail to everyone who donated.

Happy Bobby!


Dry, babies, dry!


I feel so blessed to not only have had a tiny part in Bobby's story, but more so that I have so many friends and acquaintances that jumped in to support him- not just monetarily, but also with encouraging words. What a lucky person I am to have so many wonderful people in my life- some who I have never met in person- but all who know the real meaning of empathy and compassion!

-Jen

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Autumn Here We Come


Fall is so fleeting in Central New York. It seems that one minute it's sweltering 85 degree summer days and then the next minute, the trees are asleep and snow is falling to the ground! The pups and I are trying to enjoy these in-between times --those fleeting days of blue skies and orangey-yellow trees-- before we need to get the snowshoes out (ha ha).


I find the cool fall days, the rich colors, so invigorating after the muggy, sweltery, never-ending blandness of summer. My art has picked up and I am planning to re-open my Etsy store soon. I've recommitted to blogging twice a week. Joey, Lela and I are taking wonderful walks twice a day- before work and after- to get out and enjoy it all. Life is so short and I really feel like we've been so blessed by it all!

-Jen

Thursday, August 18, 2016

August Update


Well, it has been a summer of ups and downs! Poor Lela has an ulcer on her eye, which is causing us a bit of concern. I feel like she's been on drops and pain pills forever (I think it's only been a few weeks, but it SEEMS longer). Poor girl. We seem to be in kind of a hold pattern right now, waiting to see how it looks at our next appointment.

Meanwhile, we've had a couple more camping trips- Bear Spring Mountain State Park in the Western Catskills, and Selkirk Shores State Park up on Lake Ontario. Bear Spring Mountain has to be my least favorite campground I've ever been to- not much walking at all, hiking trails totally overgrown, one bathroom for the place and it was trashed every day, not really maintained well-- but Selkirk Shores popped up to the top of our all-time list with awesome trails, lots of kayaking opportunities, nice shady site, and that great "close to home but not too close" factor!  We have a few more trips planned before fall sets in.




Thursday, June 23, 2016

New Toys



I've camped since I was a kid. We started out with a tent, then eventually mom and dad got a 25 year old Apache pop-up for us, which eventually morphed into a 20 foot tow along. These were our summers growing up- so much fun!

But once I became 'an adult' and moved out, I had to go back to tenting it because that's all I could afford. Sleeping on the ground again. Ouch.

So after the pups and I have been roughing it in the tent for the past 15 years, and I finally saved up for a 'new-to-me' camper! It's a Coleman Sedona from 2003, and clean-as-a-button. A lucky Craigslist find!



My other fun purchase/exchange was trading in my Old Town Discovery solo canoe for something a bit bigger and more stable. Lela was always good in the canoe, but Joey is a bit bigger and, well, fidgety (some may say ill-mannered but I won't go there :)) and I was worried he would tip us over in the little Old Town. So a couple weekends ago we went up to Mountain Man Sports in Old Forge to look at Radisson Sportspal canoes, which I've heard are virtually un-tippable. They did seem like beautiful crafts, but the inside of the boat was foam and I knew it would get chewed up by dog claws very quickly. The folks there were so nice and showed us several other canoes and kayaks that could work, and ever let me test-paddle some with Joey and Lela! We settled on a Native Ultimate Fishing Kayak which is the ugliest camo-color known to man but is super-roomy, stable as can be with two moving dogs, and really fun to paddle. So we traded in the Old Town and now have the sleek Native to explore in!

Learning to adjust from a canoe to a kayak was easy (and it IS super steady for dogs!!). Learning to adjust from a tent to a pop-up was not. There was a LOT of stuff to learn. Load balance, hooking up, towing, setting up and taking down were a big learning curve. But that's okay. Our first trip was to Kayuta Lake Campground, where my parents have a summer camp. This meant they were able to stand by and watch me set up, and correct anything I was doing wrong (same when taking down). Our second trip was up to our favorite place, Fish Creek Campgrounds, the pups and I "by ourselves." We did have a few mishaps....I couldn't back into the site properly; I had a hard time leveling the camper once I finally got in; I lost control of the kayak getting it off the Escape and ended up ripping my antenna and smashing off the side mirror. Whoops.

Chalking this up to a learning experience!

Anyway, we had a wonderful 4 days paddling, hiking, and lazying around camp. Here are some pictures from our trip!