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susan smitten

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Real Diving Over Eid [Jul. 21st, 2015|11:08 pm]
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This weekend was Eid al-Fitr (the Eid that follows Ramadan), and it's a holiday for most normal people. I am not a normal person, but I had the weekend off by pure chance.

So I went diving with a group. It was my first REAL dive. I drove to the east coast of this peninsula, which takes two hours, and met my group of 13 divers at a petrol station. From there we passed through the Oman border and boarded a speedboat that took us thirty or forty-five minutes away from the dive center, to some pristine and untouched coastline.

We explored three dive sites. These were walls teeming with color and life, and it was one of the most miraculous things I've seen. It is a glorious planet we live on. The ocean is magnificent.


This was the first dive site. The organizer of the excursion (my dive instructor, Tim) referred to another location as 'The Wonderwall,' but that descriptor could apply to the entire section of the coastline that we explored. 'Because there are many wonders,' Tim explained.


I took this picture from the boat. The girl in the pink wetsuit was on her first real dive, also.


This coastline might be one of the prettiest shapes in the natural universe. I know oonh would approve.


I wanted a picture of how clear and blue the water is, but it was too spectacular to capture. And I was taking pictures on my phone.

Which means that's the last picture here that was taken by me. The next few underwater pictures were taken by Tim.


This is how close I was to two cuttlefish. They were adorbs. Photograph by Tim.


Adorable cuttlefish. Photograph by Tim.


There were more colors than I think I'd ever seen in my life. (Photograph by Tim.)


Tim likes anemones and clown fish, and photographed every occurrence he could find.


I'm going to boast a little and tell you I was the first person to spot this zebra moray! (Photograph by Tim.)


And I was the first to find this leopard eel. (Photograph by Tim.) Later, Tim told me I had "laser vision." He also made repeated references to my enthusiasm. Who wouldn't be enthusiastic?


That's me in the middle, looking a bit like a mermaid with my huge fins. You can't tell, but the visibility went on and on. And there was so much to look at.

I implore you, look at this picture of my new friend Gisela, taken on the same dive. She was with her husband and son, so I don't know which of them took this picture. She took this picture, and this one, and this one, and this one. (Yes, on the same dive!) Turns out we're connected through mutual friends.

I like this planet.
link19 footsteps|mind the misty sea

Kobe and Time [Jul. 14th, 2015|04:45 pm]
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I have a few more random shots from Kobe, but I'll just go ahead and put these up. This was the beginning of the last day of my Japan trip.


Spotted in Kobe.


Next to my Kobe hotel.


I'm sorry, too.


I had lunch with my old colleague, Jeff!


Things at Time were eerily the same.
linkmind the misty sea

Kansai Pictures, Part Third. Finally! [Jun. 24th, 2015|10:34 am]
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On day 3 of my Kansai trip, I went to Kyoto. (This was seven weeks ago, but I'm flaky about posting pictures. On this trip, I was also flaky about taking them; all of these were taken with my phone, rather than my proper camera.) My old friend Mike met me when I got off the bus, and we went to the Toji-in Temple.


This striking Daruma image stands at the entrance to Toji-in.


The garden is extraordinary.










Mike and I had lunch at this 'Cafe Bianco.'


It was bright and cheerful.


Mike went back to his job, and I hung around another temple.


Ryōan-ji Temple is a place where people go to take pictures of rocks.






I stayed for a while, sat on a bench with a book. It was quiet and calming there.




In the evening, Mike and I went to touristy Gion for a meal.


And a drink.


When we came back to Kobe, we wrapped up the evening with a round of Kobe Knockouts at International Bar Nasty House.
link6 footsteps|mind the misty sea

Too Many Kansai Pictures, Part Second! [May. 5th, 2015|03:08 pm]
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I spent day two in Kobe with my old friends Muyan and Mike. A more perfect day cannot be imagined.


The weather was clear and the sky was blue.


We stumbled upon the Kobe German Beer Festival, complete with pretzels, accordions, and happy people drinking delicious beer.


The festival was in Harborland.


We stepped into a bakery so Michael could buy cute buns for his 2.5 year old daughter.


Then we went to Chinatown for lunch, street food, and souvenirs.


Then a walk through Sannomiya.


I took pictures of things one could buy in Sannomiya.


Muyan and I walked up into posh Kitano. I snagged a picture of Kujira No Andy from the outside.


We went into Nishimura Coffee.


I had tea.


Then shopping at Tokyu Hands. This is a B-Side sticker. They're all the rage. I was looking for a blue sticker for my blue car. Maybe not this one, though. Not in Dubai.


They offer TP you can read. Well, maybe not you; some people can read it.


After dark, I went to the Sone jazz club, where I floated away on some really heartfelt tunes.
link1 footstep|mind the misty sea

Too Many Kansai Pictures! Part First.. [Apr. 30th, 2015|08:35 pm]
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My holiday in Japan was short, but yielded many photographs. Let's start with the first evening. My friends Kazuki and Yumi (and their three beautiful children) met me when I arrived, and we headed to Kujira No Andy, my favorite restaurant in Japan, where once again I was floored by the profound deliciousness of Andy's cuisine. This restaurant is one table only per night, and is by reservation only. It has no menu; you tell them what you feel like having, and they create something fabulous. The children had spag-bol and fries. For the grownups, I requested Japanese food. I mentioned that I might like to eat some seafood.


This is Hitomi, one of the chefs of Kujira no Andy.


Here's Yoshihiro putting the finishing touch on dessert. Our friends refer to the couple collectively as "Andy."


Left to right: Yuki, Kazuki, Koki, Yumi. Little Kimi is asleep in a pram.


There's Kimi! And radiant Yumi.


First course is sushi. The nearest one is red pepper, the next one is omelet. I don't think I got a picture of every course.


The take-no-ko, or bamboo shoots, on the right hand side were the most savory, melty thing I'd ever tasted.


This was good, and maybe I drank the dressing from the bowl.


Tempura and Sauvignon Blanc.


The main course. I had fish (trying to remember which one), and my friends had pork and steak, respectively, but all were served with potatoes, pesto, and balsamic. Delicious, delicious.




link1 footstep|mind the misty sea

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