Tech Marvels & The TV Tray!

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Some of you may recall, I previously posted prior segments of this 1950’s series, ending with photos from Betty Crocker’s house and barn and anything else I found there to photograph (See October 11 post under Tech Marvels.).  My mother Eleonore came with me on this adventure , as we browsed at the antique barn and acted like undercover paparazzi, snapping shots incognito for your pleasure and edification.  This was so exciting.  I couldn’t stand it.

Today, part four ( for those who are numerically challenged, like me) we will be discussing that integral part of the 1950’s-60’s life,  The TV Tray.

TV trays were of course made to eat TV dinners on in the 1950’s & 60’s.  TV dinners started out rather small,  so the original TV Trays were rather small too.  Everything in the 1950’s was small, bathrooms, closets, me.

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I think this retro-ceramic TV dinner from the 1950’s for sale on ETSY for the incredible steal price of $450.00 will be a perfect launching point for our discussion of this fascinating topic.  There is only one of these ceramic beauties available, so if you must have it, you better move quickly.  Here is the website:

And here is the ceramic product,  I mean art piece ( it looks good enough to eat just like a real TV dinner):

The original TV Dinner made by Swanson’s was this delectable turkey delight that cost only $1 in 1953:

It came out just a couple of years before I was born actually, and was advertised as the “perfect solution for women who worked out of the home,” and didn’t have time for pesky things like making dinner, and who also had no intention of engaging in boring activities like a family dinner, and would rather watch TV as they enjoyed this gourmet repast. See ads:


Swanson sold millions of these babies, so they ramped up production and diversified to things like my favorite as a child, “Salisbury Steak.” See example. YUM!


So truth be told, millions of kids like me were sitting in front of tv screens, numbing our brains in the 50’s/60’s watching TV.  The computer now at least requires some type of cerebral activity in users.

For those too young to remember what a TV tray is. (Sacrilege!) I have included some helpful examples.  For the rest of us, these will just serve as memory prompts for our already severely challenged senior cerebellums.  TV Trays, the point of all this ramble in the first place, were designed and released in 1954 as the perfect technological advancement to make eating and watching TV not only possible, but darn easy.  Here are a few examples of this wizardry in actual operation in the 1950’s.  They were sold in 4-paks with an innovative device developed to store them after use:

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By the time the 1970’s rolled around, TV dinner’s technologically advanced one more time.  “Hungry Man” larger TV dinners were developed. This was in response to the men’s movement (or something).  Anyways, ads came out with a song & jingle, whose lyrics were, “How do you handle a hungry man?  The manhandlers.”  I kid you not!  It was sung in basso profundo by lumberjacks or something.  Anyhoo, “The Man Handlers,” were an innovation by Swanson again (The Apple of their time) to handle the big appetites of big men, who were obviously not happy with their TV dinners and must have been bitching, I mean complaining about them at home.  I ate them so I can attest to the fact they consisted of an additional two ounces of something approximating chicken noodle soup, a delectable three ounces of “fruit” (I use the term loosely) cobbler, and an extra couple of ounces of something resembling vegetables.


This huge leap forward in innovation required additional modification of the TV Tray, which became outdated just like your original i pod and pad.  “The King Size TV Tray,” was invented to bridge this gap. Here is an example:

The best thing about the invention of the TV dinners was that a woman no longer had to wash dishes if she didn’t want to. The TV dinners could just be thrown away after use!  This prevented the sort of dish washing drudgery that I shared with you in a previous post:

This is where my expertise about all this incredible 50’s innovation ends. My parentals would go on “date night, ” the sitter would arrive, and my brother and I would sit contentedly in front of the boob-tube, I mean TV, watching Bonzana and eating our favorite “Man Handler’s” on our TV trays.  Those were the days……

I am exhausted now by all this extensive history, I am sure you are too, and I am too tired to make dinner.  Where are the damn TV trays?

Our Palladian Winter!

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In winter-time a tourist in Italy is almost a rare sight! Yes it is quite cold, but one can have Palladio’s masterpieces, the canals of Venice, and the Uffizi without the massive crowds. Tourists who have traveled in spring and summer and even in fall, know how rare this is. In fall the Italians travel and things can be quite busy. Jim and I split up for a time in the Uffizi one winter day, and each of us marveled at walking through room after room of masterpieces with not a person in sight. I was greeted like a c-list celebrity by American college students in the Duomo who were studying abroad and were thrilled because, “Oh my God! It’s an American mom!”

I guess they were feeling a little homesick in late January and mom was looking better than when they left! 🙂

I love Italy in the winter. It is my favorite time. The people are warm, the food hot and delicious, and less tourists and queues, have made me a convert. It is like being in Italy, not being in Italy with 200,000 other tourists crammed into four blocks! I also prefer the cold to the heat of the summer. All of the buildings are covered with cloaks of frost. If all of this isn’t enough to convince you, everything is less expensive in Italia in the winter time. Accommodations, even in pricey Venice, are much less expensive.

We will be back in Italy in the spring and I am bracing for the crowds.

Take a peek at beautiful Italia in the winter-time:


The genius of Palladio. One can book inside tours of Palladio’s masterpieces in the winter-time more easily. Getting inside is a major treat. There were Pallazos for sale along the Brenta that you can see if your thinking of a move! 🙂 I sure was, but it’s quite a major undertaking and expense to take on a palazzo. I am content to visit.





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The Duomo Florence

Lodging Options In Southern Patagonia!

If you go to “The End of the World” you can’t really expect to stay in the kind of places you are used to, can you?

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Well, of course you can. This is a gift shop in El Calafate!

It’s quite civilized in El Fin Del Mundo.

In the two places we stayed, El Calafate home of The Glaciers National Park, and Ushuaia home of Tierra Del Fuego National Park, we stayed in two very nice places.

Every sort of lodging option is available. There are bustling youth hostels. There are a few mid range large hotels focused on the package tour traveler, the least interesting accommodation in my opinion. There are family run B&B’s and small hotels, and estancias out-of-town. There are eco-oriented accommodations, and one or two super luxury accommodations in each locale that costs a ridiculous amount daily.

But I would say the best options for staying in either place are:

If you are under 30: Youth hostels Fun, family owned in these places. Very inexpensive.

Small family owned B&B’s and hotels: Charming, centrally located, you can walk to everything. Very inexpensive.

Out of town estancias: Working ranches, incredible, affordable and unique.

Eco-accommodations: Where we stayed. Somewhat pricey but amazing.

I would ditch the organized travel, large hotels that were so out-of-place, and I would ditch the type of gig that is ridiculously expensive and leaves you hostage to the owners because you are in the middle of nowhere.

This same lodging dilemma happened in Kruger National Park in Africa, but was even more pronounced. Many of the lodging options were ridiculously expensive, with things like private plunge pools and personal butlers, that are really out-of-place in the bush. We stayed in National Park lodging and were quite pleased with the accommodations and very inexpensive rates. We would like to return to Kruger and stay in the northern parts of the park.

This is what happens with bucket lists by the way. You just keep adding places you want to return to, so it is never-ending!

Much of the fun of traveling is in the planning. We choose where we are going together. Jim then plans the itinerary and modes of transport. He gives me the itinerary and I choose the accommodations. Jim is amazing at finding discounted air deals. I am quite good at booking accommodations at far below their publicized rates. This is fun to do and I only screwed it up once!

In Calafate we stayed at Los Sauces, reportedly owned by the female president of Brazil. It is now quite pricey. When I booked originally in 2010, the place was new and unpublicized. It is always a great deal to book a new hotel, because the prices are lower until a reputation is established, and the prices jack up.


There were around eight of these “houses,” each had private rooms en-suite, with a shared living room area. There was a separate restaurant and spa. This was definitely not roughing it! The breakfasts were included in the room rate. The baked goods in Argentina are to die for and always house made from scratch. Delicious!


In Ushuaia we stayed at Los Cauquenes. This hotel is right on The Beagle Channel and we got a channel view room for the mountain view rate. Wonderful!

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Our room.
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Southern Patagonia can basically accommodate any traveler’s preferences and budgets. So if you want to go, check it out and be sure and post your photos on your blog!

My final Six: Patagonian Bird Shots!

This post is dedicated to Alistair. Check out his incredible seagull shot & say goodbye to the last of my Patagonian bird shots!

A Photo A day … February 07 2013

Click to enlarge for optimal viewing.

Southern Caracara (an aggressive raptor with an up to 52 inch wingspan)

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Dolphin Gull (native to Southern Argentina & Chile) It took me awhile to find out what this bird was!


Goslings (these were in Buenos Aires)


Magellan Goose (South American goose)


Southern Lapwing (only crested wader in South America)


Long-tailed Meadowlark (native to Southern South America)


The heron in my prior post is a Black Crowned Night Heron!

Imperial Shag, Southern Sea Lion & an Albatross Too!

The Imperial Shag (this odd name sounds like a rude comment about the British Monarchy, but thankfully it’s not) is a species of cormorant native to the Sub-Antarctic Islands and Southern South America. They look much like penguins, but they can fly, both in the air and under water. Here you can see them sunning with Southern Sea Lions, AKA South American Sea lions on an island off the coast of Ushuaia. I much confess that I am puzzled by the Southern Sea Lions. They look nothing like the sea lions I am familiar with in California, but apparently are closely related. These Southern Sea Lions are fatter, furrier and look more like a Weddell seal. They probably need the extra fat and fur to survive in the arctic waters. They are quite handsome I think! (Click to enlarge.)

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In this photo, an Albatross is flying overhead.

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Here is a better shot of the handsome sea lions.

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Last Call for The Flamingos & What Do You Think?

What are the optimum number of photos you like to look at in a blog post? Will you look at more photos if they are addressing a common theme? (Click to enlarge.)

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I have this mental rule that I still try to stick to even though I constantly break it. This rule is that I should attempt to limit photos per post to no more than 6 photos. I made this rule because I noticed I couldn’t process more than six disparate images fully, it becomes sort of overwhelming, and I stop looking. I have a friend who sends me slide shows of photos of her trips that number up to a hundred, are unlabeled and completely overwhelm. I can’t focus on any photo because there are too many.

However I also notice that if the photos are a common theme, lampposts, birds, whatever, I can and do process many easily. It is almost like each image builds on the prior one.

Should I regret for example, not posting all my Flamingo photos together because I now wonder, since they are a common theme, would people like to see all the photos once, and would it have been a better post?

And last call for the flamingos. Do you like seeing all these photos or do you think the quantity is distracting?






Ushuaia’s Twisted Trees!


The weather in Ushuaia is directly influenced by its proximity to Antarctica and by the towering Andes that surround the region. It is a Magellanic subpolar climate. Winds are always present, but especially intense during the winter season. Trees in Ushuaia tend to follow the wind direction in an uni-directional growth pattern creating a twisted appearance. These trees are referred to as Flag Trees because they are permanently shaped like flags blowing in the wind. The particular trees in these photos are Southern Beech Trees.







Beech Trees have shallow root systems and intense winds in bowl-shaped areas can wipe out entire forests.


Some of these areas remain devoid of trees because of the steady and intense wind.


This is a harsh, yet fragile environment. The strength of these polar winds creates a unique landscape in Ushuaia of savage and intense beauty.

Who is that, Staring at me in the Ushuaian Meadow?


Just this guy. They breed the most beautiful Siberian Husky’s you have ever seen in Ushuaia, and use them in the winter as sled dogs to get around.

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St.Bernards are popular here also. They wake from their long summer snooze when the icy Andean winter winds begin to blow. Mush, mush they’re off! For now though, in the sweltering 50F summer heat, it’s just snooze, snooze. I’m resting!

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