Robie House

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Chicago’s Robie House is “is renowned as the greatest example of the Prairie School style, the first architectural style considered uniquely American”. Inspired by the Great Plains, the Prairie style is “usually marked by horizontal lines, flat or hipped roofs with broad overhanging eaves, windows grouped in horizontal bands, integration with the landscape, solid construction, craftsmanship, and discipline in the use of ornament. Horizontal lines were thought to evoke and relate to the native prairie landscape.” Seen above, the Robie House has all this.

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A More Rico, Vegetable Soup

Inspired by borscht we had last year in Russia, my wife added a spoonful of crème fraîche to her vegetable soup that made the soup so much more rich and tasty. People in Argentina seem to use rico to enthusiastically describe food that’s delicious or rich, and that’s what this combination brought to mind.

This vegetable soup combines stock, seasonal vegetables (celery, carrots, butternut squash), and brown rice and beans (for complete protein). It’s very healthy, but I find the taste to be on the lean side. We had tried the crème fraîche from a north-bay-area Costco, so she had it on-hand to substitute for the sour cream used in borscht. We both thought that the crème fraîche really improved the vegetable soup.

Kauai

This summer we visited the island of Kauai in Hawaii, where we enjoyed Kauai‘s high cliffs, deep valleys, and water. For six million years, “high annual rainfall has eroded deep valleys in the central mountains, carving out canyons with many scenic waterfalls.”

Above is a sunrise from our condo, where the rising sun paints the beach and trees with a red glow.

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Stalking a Dragonfly

Seeing a dragonfly on a tree, I wondered if it would stay long enough to photograph it. I ran inside for a camera and telephoto lens. The dragonfly was still there. I approached slowly, taking photos along the way, in case the dragonfly flew away.

Above is my first good photo, the dragonfly seen through a wing as a veil.  The dragonfly did fly away several times, and it returned to different spots on the same branch. I thought I saw it moving its mouth after it landed, so perhaps the dragonfly was catching flying bugs. Continue reading Stalking a Dragonfly

Zion’s Riverside Walk

At Zion National Park, we followed the Riverside Walk where the Zion Canyon narrows and the trail stops as the Virgin River flows between rock walls.

Seen in early June, the Virgin River stays within its channel. The steep canyon walls indicate that the rock is hard, but this river doesn’t look like it would cut through hard rock. But appearances can be deceiving. The Park Service warns “During a flash flood, the water level rises quickly, within minutes or even seconds. A flash flood can rush down a canyon in a wall of water 12 feet high or more.”

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Eclipse through an Oak-Tree Camera

In northern California, where the August 2017 solar eclipse covered up to 75% of the sun, an oak tree served as a pinhole camera, a “natural optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen (or for instance a wall) is projected through a small hole in that screen as a reversed and inverted image (left to right and upside down) on a surface opposite to the opening”.

Above, in the shadow of branches, the many crescents show the sun in eclipse. Tiny gaps between the oak leaves form pinhole cameras that project the sun’s image onto pavers.

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Glen Canyon Dam

Completed in 1966, the Glen Canyon Dam holds back the Colorado River to flood Glen Canyon, forming Lake Powell just upstream from Horseshoe Bend. Looking at the height of white bathtub ring, the water level doesn’t look down much, but a park ranger told me that the reservoir had risen to 55% full after the past wet winter.

Lake Powell loses water to evaporation and leakage; I wondered if the water loss is significant. Running the numbers, Lake Powell loses enough water to supply over half (57%) the people in the San Francisco Bay Area with water — every year. After weathering years of drought, the water loss from Lake Powell is very significant.

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