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VALERIEMAHA's Recent Blog Entries

Just Say NOOOOOO! to Monsanto's FRANKENsugar!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Court Blocks Future Crops of Monsanto's Genetically Engineered "RoundUp Ready" Sugar Beets...

...Unless the USDA Completes an Environmental Impact Statement and Decides Again to Deregulate

The Center for Food Safety has won an important legal victory in the fight to stop the spread of untested and hazardous genetically engineered crops. After ruling that the USDA (under president George W. Bush) shouldn't have approved genetically engineered sugar beets without assessing the Frankencrop's potential to contaminate conventional and organic varieties, a federal judge has blocked future crops of Monsanto's genetically engineered RoundUp Ready sugar beets. Monsanto's GE sugar beets now comprise 95% of the nation's sugar beet harvest.

The ball is in the USDA's court. The pro-biotech sugar industry is urging the USDA to rush through an Environmental Impact Statement so they can plant a new crop of Monsanto's Roundup Ready sugar beets next year.

The only thing that can stop Monsanto's sugar beets is a massive public outcry. The Center for Food Safety's legal work has given the USDA, under President Obama, the opportunity to do the right thing.

Now's our chance to press Obama's USDA to protect biodiversity and human health from contamination with FrankenGenes that never should have been released into nature or the food system!

To take action:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRANCESCANAZ 8/22/2010 1:33PM

    emoticonMaha! Gettin the word out. te amo hermana mia. emoticon

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JUSTBIRDY 8/21/2010 4:52PM


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ROBINSNEWNEST 8/20/2010 7:26PM

    Thanks for sharing this information... Took action and will pass it on...

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SLASALLE 8/20/2010 6:30PM

    While beets are one of the few veggies I do not like, I still don't like genetically engineered food, and I'm sure it's happening with more than beets!!

You go, girl ... !!!


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KALIGIRL 8/20/2010 8:38AM

    emoticon for letting us know.

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GOANNA2 8/20/2010 6:10AM

    Wow, 95% is not good. I agree that no one company should
have so much control. It makes me wonder what else we are
eating that has biofranken genes that we know nothing about.

Thanks for the info. Glad the court ahs blocked it.
Have a great weekend.

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DENI_ZEN 8/19/2010 11:04PM

    P.S. - This blog entry of yours reminds me of the old Sonny and Cher song - "And the Beet Goes On." emoticon

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DENI_ZEN 8/19/2010 11:02PM

    I'm no fan of Frankencrops either, Maha; thank you for this heads-up! I just took action, and I echo RUSSELLORAMA's sentiments here. Was it on NPR that I first heard about Monsanto's "RoundUp Ready" genetically engineered sugar beets? That news depressed it's good to have this avenue for voicing my concern! - Sandi emoticon

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CMRAND54 8/19/2010 9:18PM

    Thanks for posting this.

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RUSSELLORAMA 8/19/2010 7:20PM

    No one company should be allowed to control 95% of anything, including crops!

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SHERRY822 8/19/2010 6:44PM

    Thanks for the info. I took action ! emoticon

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WALKINGANNIE 8/19/2010 6:37PM

    "GE sugar beets now comprise 95% of the nation's sugar beet harvest"

That's truly shocking Maha and should definitely be drawn to people's attention.

Hope the campaign attracts a lot of support.

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Sister Love!

Monday, August 16, 2010

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Does it get any better than this: I pull in after three months *on the road* around noon yesterday, pull myself together, gather gifts and take off for festivities with dear friends for three birthday celebrants at Ellen's fabulous hilltop *Tree House* (so called because it's built on a hill up among them) whose kitchen window looks out directly at Pinnacle Mountain.

Ellen, one of the birthday girls, who is the hostess-with-the-mostest with Chloe!

Me with two of the birthday girls, former housemate Janice and Ellen.

The third birthday girl, Gail on the left, with Fritzie in the middle, and Pat, who shaved her head in solidarity with a dear friend who is grappling with breast cancer

Fritzie, Pat and (blinking) Janice again. The first celebration was for my birthday, held at Fritzie's place. I blogged about it back-when:

Anne Avant, famed and favorite Iyengar Yoga teacher, Ellen, and Amy (just back from 3 weeks in Bulgaria...and earlier in the summer yet another trip to China). After the February celebration, Anne sent an email out to everyone and said we should keep doing this periodically...and the next one was held at her place last May!

Johnye (Janice's mom and the matriarch of the group), Pam who, instead of completing her PhD in English Lit, got practical and picked up an accounting degree and ultimately became a CPA -- fortunately, I think, she has stopped playing with numbers and is back to playing with words...she is the quintessential wordsmith!), and Camille (who finished the semi-finals game of a tennis tournament in time to join us). Camille started the prison project and Pat, Gail, and I volunteer in it with her.

Some kitchen action.

Here Janice, just back from two months camping and volunteering for the National Park Service (she and her sister Judy lead light house tours where they stay at Devil's Island in Lake Superior) at the Great Lakes, is singing the song she wrote for Ellen and Monroe's wedding, was it three(?) years ago (one of those storybook romances...lucky Ellen!)

Unfortunately Judy missed the celebration because she was on-call at the hospital. (She's a pediatrician.) SparkFriend Sandra also missed it because she's in Wisconsin helping her mom post-op; Jean and Pamela are also in WI...visiting friends and family; Siaw Khian is visiting family in Malaysia and Marilyn is in Missouri, supporting her mom, whose partner is very ill.

At our next celebration Johnye will be celebrating her EIGHTIETH! I wish this was lighter...I swear she looks longer than me! (ROTFLOL!!! Gotta' leave that typo -- since at almost 6' tall, she is DEFINITELY "longer" than my 5'3" and she looks YOUNGER than me too.) Mid-life Johnye decided she wanted a PhD, finished it and proceeded to join the faculty of the English Department of U of AR and taught English Literature for many years there. And it makes my head spin to think of everything she's involved in now! Is that the formula Johnye???

Pinnacle Mountain at sunrise

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May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.

May you be able to journey to that place in your soul
where there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.

May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.

May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
May they bring you all the blessings, challenges, truth, and light that you need for your journey.

May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam cara.

-- John O'Donohue, from Anam Cara
(Anam cara is Gaelic for "soul friend")

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRANCESCANAZ 8/22/2010 1:36PM

    emoticon Maha! Livin life! Te amo mi hermana. emoticon

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PUDLECRAZY 8/18/2010 8:21PM

    I am so glad you made it back for the birthday bash! It looks like everyone had so much fun. emoticon

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DARKTHOR 8/18/2010 12:30PM

    This is so wonderful. You are filling your days with greatness that stretches the seams.

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RUBIA_LIZ 8/17/2010 10:59PM

    Fantastic! I don't know what I'd do without my Sister Love either. Glad you've made it back home safe and sound! Have enjoyed following your travels. Great stuff!!

emoticon emoticon

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PENNYAN45 8/17/2010 10:14PM

    I am so happy for you that you are back home again with your intelligent, interesting and loving friends! Thanks for the poem, too. I like it!


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DENI_ZEN 8/17/2010 8:43PM

    Wow, Maha! Thank you for sharing this wonderful gathering with us! The sisterhood among you is palpable, too :) And oh, to have a treehouse like that! Thanks SO much with your help with my SparkPersona/Identity/Page! As you can see, I've had sooo much fun today! (And, I'm a kid at heart - so it's all good! :) - Sandi emoticon

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KALIGIRL 8/17/2010 1:06PM

    What a marvelous group of sisters - you are blessed with their friendship as are they with yours.

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CMRAND54 8/17/2010 12:42AM

    What a wonderful celebration.

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GETDONE 8/16/2010 10:10PM

    Thanks for the party--I felt like I was there.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 8/16/2010 8:49PM

    What a joy filled celebration, Mahalakshmi, and a lovely homecoming for you. And a gathering of remarkable women. The love and warmth in the room comes across in your blog.
And thanks for sharing the anam cara blessing with us! Love it.
Usha xx

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MISS_VIV 8/16/2010 8:48PM

    What fantastic writings of a heart warming reunion/birthday/sisters get together.
You are truly blessed.


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COSMIC_ENERGY 8/16/2010 4:39PM

    What a wonderful homecoming!

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WALKINGANNIE 8/16/2010 4:14PM

    Thanks for sharing your celebration of friendship between some remarkable women. What a gathering of wisdom, strength, intelligence, empathy and generosity.


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SLASALLE 8/16/2010 3:35PM

    Sister love, indeed. Often made even better with "chosen" sisters!! Don't know what I would do without the many "sisters" in my life.

Welcome home (to me, too!!). Enjoy. We'll talk soon!!!


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VALERIEMAHA 8/16/2010 3:25PM


Nice photos, Maha.

Just a couple of corrections to the text (you know, it's the editor in me--or maybe the English prof):

I was not really middle aged when I "decided" to get my PhD. That had been my intention all along. I was fulfilling a prenuptial agreement, made when I was 17, prior to our summer wedding before the beginning of our sophomore year. I was only 31 when I began the final phase, so it was hardly my middle age, as it turned out. (We both committed to being supportive of the other one's getting a PhD. He already knew he wanted to be a chemist. I told him I too wanted to get a PhD. Just didn't know what yet.)

My work history was with UALR, not U of AR (which is commonly understood to be the Fayetteville campus).

I continued taking classes virtually every semester until 3 years after my retirement, when health issues made it physically uncomfortable. (Then I began working at home editing two international haiku publications for 7 years, until that work became uncomfortable.)

y enough, we were given tiny boxes created from lovely greeting cards at the birthday celebration....The one I chose was filled with "comfort".

Peace, Love, and Joy to All.


Comment edited on: 8/16/2010 5:51:01 PM

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FERRET_76 8/16/2010 2:55PM

  Wow - wonderful friends and a blessed celebration all in a gorgeous setting? Sounds great! Here's wishing you continued success!!


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VALERIEMAHA 8/16/2010 1:53PM

    Oh yeah -- Pat is DEFINITELY and INDUBITABLY an AMAZING woman!

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LYNNANN43 8/16/2010 1:10PM

    What a wonderful looking & celebration, MAHA!

And hats off to Pat for shaving her head in solidarity! What an AMAZING woman she must be to got to those lengths for a friend!


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28/Summer10: Biking the Youghiogheny River Trail

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I left Pennsylvania a few days ago. I last stayed three days and two nights in Ohiopyle, an area incredibly rich with recreational resources, among them an awesome bike trail.

The Youghiogheny River Trail has 27 miles of trail in the park and is part of the Great Allegheny Passage that connects Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cumberland, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.). The flat, crushed limestone trail was once the rail bed for the Western Maryland Railroad.

I rode only 10 miles of the extraordinary trail (or 20 miles round trip) and it was a virtual wonderland! I really hope to return to the Ohiopyle area of Pennsylvania again. My PA friends Lew and Tracey are totally right!

As I rode, I sometimes heard the roar of the rapids over the other times the still waters created a quietness that was mesmerizing. The topography varied on the trail and always the river was below, although it was difficult to capture it with my camera. It was cool in the woods during the entire ride...I was always shaded by the canopy of trees. I shot photos on the ride back, and here is the visual offering from that magical experience:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAMDENCYCLIST 8/31/2010 12:58PM

    Spectacular photos! What a beautiful ride. I'll have to check that out some time. It's not too far from me!

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SUCHAHOOT 8/15/2010 11:53PM

    This may be my favorite yet! Your photos are fabulous. I can just feel myslef peddling along with you.

Stay safe & continue to live in JOY!!!

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AZIMAT 8/15/2010 2:27PM

    Hey you! still truckin' huh?

The Obamas were here this weekend, well, they were a half mile from here, down the street from us. Pretty exciting. I should write blog. My DH and I stood on the corner to see them off. Barack waved at us as the motorcade passed by.

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WALKINGANNIE 8/15/2010 1:14PM

    "I sometimes heard the roar of the rapids over the other times the still waters created a quietness that was mesmerizing." sounds like a metaphor for a life well-lived.

You have certainly had a summer that was very well-lived indeed.


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STLRZGRRL 8/15/2010 11:18AM


You know... I don't know what it is about "home"... and I am sure there are many places on this sweet old world that look just LIKE this... but when I looked at the first picture you posted here, Maha, a smile broke across my face like Whoa!...


I'd know the roll of those old hills anywhere... and you spent some time in the very best places this whole summer long... but I am SO pleased you got a few days there at Ohiopyle... it is truly a wonder and I'm so happy you got to see it!


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CORPUSANNIE 8/14/2010 11:37PM

    Have to let you know that this vicarious journey I've been taking with you is the highlight of my summer. Many sincere thanks! emoticon emoticon

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CMRAND54 8/14/2010 10:13PM

    Lovely photos! Your trip sounds wonderful.

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GENKI_WARRIOR 8/14/2010 7:40PM

    WOW--Gorgeous!!! I may have to venture out and find some good trails--I looooove bicycling!

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COSMIC_ENERGY 8/14/2010 7:19PM

    You are a wonder! Had a nice chat with Kathy today (AT). I'm trying to get my mojo motivation up for a new healthy eating plan. It used to be easier for me in the summer, but now I believe it'll be easier during the school year with more structure in place--My Gemini twins are fighting!

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PUDLECRAZY 8/14/2010 7:18PM

    I really love that part of the country. I used to go camping there with my kids - lots of fond memories. Thanks for the photos!

BTW - Are you home yet?

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27/Summer10: FLW's Kentuck Knob

Friday, August 13, 2010

A few pieces from the sculpture garden:

The Hagan House began in 1953 when the Hagans, owners of a major dairy company in Western Pennsylvania, purchased an 80 acres mountain just north of their native Uniontown, the county seat. As friends of the Kaufmanns, owners of nearby Fallingwater on Bear Run, the Hagans asked their architect Frank Lloyd Wright, then 86 years old, to design a deluxe Usonian home for them. The house was completed in 1956, and the Hagans lived at Kentuck Knob for almost 30 years.

In 1986 Lord Palumbo of London, England bought the property for $600,000 as a vacation home. Since 1996, the Palumbo family has balanced their occupancy with a public tour program, a method of historic property management more common to their native England than to the United States.

The Palumbos added a sculpture meadow to the site near the base of the mountain, where 35 sculptures by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Ray Smith, and Sir Anthony Caro are displayed. Found art pieces include a French pissoir, red English telephone boxes, and a large, vertically upright concrete slab from the Berlin Wall. The meadow is reached by a walking path through woods from either the house or the visitors center.

Wright employed tidewater red cypress, glass, and native sandstone to build the home and capped it with a copper roof at a cost of $96,000.

At 86, and hard at work on the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and about 12 residential homes, Wright said he could "shake it (Kentuck Knob) out of his sleeve at will" never even setting foot on the site, except for a short visit during the construction phase. This would be one of the last homes to be completed by Wright.

The crescent-shaped house curls around a west-facing courtyard, blending into the contours of the land. The anchor of the design is a hexagonal stone core that rises from the hipped roof at the intersection of the living and bedroom wings. The walls of the flat-roofed carport and studio burrow into the knob and define the courtyard's eastern side. A stone planter terminates the low retaining wall on the west side of the courtyard, and it features a copper light fixture accented with a triangular-shaped shade. To the south, the house extends beyond the hillside on 10" thick stone-faced concrete ramparts. As with other houses Wright designed during this period, the Kentuck Knob plan is based upon a module system, in this case an equilateral triangle measuring 4'-6" to a side creating an outside 240 degree L-plan house.

Interestingly, Wright did not select the top of the mountain knob, which would have provided commanding views. He chose a more challenging and less obvious site immediately south of the knob. The house is nestled into the side of the knob, a common practice for Wright, allowing the building to appear organic and harmonious with the landscape rather than dominating it. The house was oriented to the south and west for the best light throughout the year, something Wright often did when not limited by a city lot.

The name Kentuck Knob is credited to the late eighteenth-century settler David Askins, who intended to move from Western Pennsylvania to Kentucky, but then reconsidered and remained at this very property, naming his tract of land Little Kentuck. It subsequently became known the Kentuck District of Stewart Township, one of the county's several rural mountainous townships. Ever since the summit of the property has been called Kentuck Knob.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

COSMIC_ENERGY 8/13/2010 10:55PM

    emoticon Beautiful and so much interesting history.

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    What beautiful pictures! I feel like I was there!

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GOANNA2 8/13/2010 5:19PM

    What a beautiful place. Thank you so much for sharing.
Namaste emoticon

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PENNYAN45 8/13/2010 3:33PM

    Beautiful! Thanks for the guided tour.
It's great to know that your travels continue.
Are you getting ready to return home soon?


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FRANCESCANAZ 8/13/2010 12:07PM

    Very intereting Maha. I just got your message. Kathleen has the DVDs now. I'll mail you the World Music right after I sahre it with my students. Gracias amiga. Vaya con Dios, Francesca

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PUDLECRAZY 8/13/2010 11:28AM

    Great shots! I had forgotten about the Oldenburg sculpture, and a few new sculptures have been added since I last was there. I hope you had as much fun as I did visiting the sculpture garden. I really like the Kentuck Knob house - I think because of its scale was well as its location.

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KAT573 8/13/2010 11:21AM

    Kewl! sorry Askins never made it to Ole Kaintuck! but he did good!

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AZIMAT 8/13/2010 11:18AM

    Oh so nice that you have connectivity! Thanks for the travelogue.

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LYNNANN43 8/13/2010 10:33AM

    My old HS boyfriend, (Hubs BFF), was just talking about here! He loves to visit & suggested we do the same:-)

Now I REALLY want to go!

Thanks for sharing, MAHA!

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VALERIEMAHA 8/13/2010 10:27AM

    The roof reminds me of the Marin Co. Civic Center...the copper-turned Pacific blue!!!

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MISS_VIV 8/13/2010 9:34AM

    Such breathtaking shots. Thank you for having your electronics with you so you can share all of this. What a fantastic opportunity you have afforded those of us that are unable to get out and around to these beautiful places.
Bless you

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26/Summer10:Frank Lloyd Wright: Fallingwater

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Already well-known during his lifetime, Frank Lloyd Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as 'the greatest American architect of all time'.

I was so looking forward to seeing work more of this brilliant, eccentric, and multi-talented man. I'm very familiar with the Marin County Civic Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. And a dear friend and I attended a service at the Unitarian Church in Oak Park, Chicago, IL But he was prolific...AND two notable houses were conveniently located on my journey.

"FALLINGWATER: Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), this house was built in 1936 as a family retreat for Pittsburgh businessman Edgar J. Kaufman. Widely admired for its design, it is dramatically cantilevered over a waterfall: it exemplifies Wright's desire to join architecture with nature. Edgar Kaufman Jr. presented the house to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1963."

Definition of cantilever style: A cantilever is a beam supported on only one end. The beam carries the load to the support where it is resisted by moment and shear stress. Cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing. For example cantilevers can be created by an extension of a simply supported beam (such as the way a diving-board is anchored and extends over the edge of a swimming pool).

Here are some shots I took of the fabulous structure Fallingwater, which though immensely indaequate, show how his organic architecture is integrated into the woods and over the waterfall, and some of the amazing angles and design motifs:

"Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 projects, which resulted in more than 500 completed works. Wright promoted organic architecture (exemplified by Fallingwater and Graycliff), was a leader of the Prairie School movement of architecture , and developed the concept of the Usonian home.

"His work includes original and innovative examples of many different building types, including offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, and museums. Wright also often designed many of the interior elements of his buildings, such as the furniture and stained glass.

"Wright authored 20 books and many articles, and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe. His colorful personal life often made headlines, most notably for the 1914 fire and murders at his Taliesin studio."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CMRAND54 8/13/2010 3:35PM

    Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing.

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FRANCESCANAZ 8/13/2010 12:04PM

    Beautiful pictures & very informative. I'm still trying to get that shot of Zeus with all four hooves up! emoticon

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PUDLECRAZY 8/13/2010 11:33AM

    Great shots!

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LYNNANN43 8/13/2010 10:36AM

    I haven't been here in YEARS! I so wish I would have gone with you!

Oh well, I certainly live close enough to get here all by my lonesome old self:-)

Thanks for the great memories & reminder!


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KALIGIRL 8/13/2010 8:33AM

    One of my favorite pieces of architecture in one of my favorite settings - thanks for sharing.

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JLWOF1 8/13/2010 7:54AM

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

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    How lovely is this! We went to his house in Chicago (with Carli) but it was quite different...

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    I was there Memorial Day! Love FLW!

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WILDHONEYPIE1 8/13/2010 12:37AM

    I forgot to ask if you had ever heard of Puzzle Of Light? They are a band from Dayton, Ohio and they recorded an album at Falling Water. I think you might enjoy.


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JUGE300000 8/12/2010 10:04PM

    Nice picture on the bottom.


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