Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Visit To Candyland

Dylan's Candy Bar: Welcome to Candyland
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"I would stand transfixed before the windows of the confectioners' shops, fascinated by the luminous sparkle of candied fruits, the cloudy luster of jellies, the kaleidoscope inflorescence of acidulated fruitdrops -- red, green, orange, violet: I coveted the colours themselves as much as the pleasure they promised me." ~ Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) French Existentialist, writer
I thought it would be fine. I thought it would be safe. I thought that taking a twenty year old to a candy store would not be a major problem, since she wasn't five or six or even ten. I thought we would go in, look around and be out in a matter of fifteen minutes, if that long. I was wrong!

(There are many more pictures to see, just click "read more" below to continue with post.)
Dylan's Candy Bar, founded by the daughter of Ralph Lauren, caught Nyssa's fancy as soon as we walked in. Why not? Just inside the door was an ice cream shop with Ben & Jerry's products. Everything was "CANDY"!! Larger than life candy cane decorations and bin after bin of individual candies. Sour candy, licorice, bubble gum, candy cookies, chocolate of all kinds, exotic truffles, fudge, suckers; you name it, they had it.

At the top of a stairway was this large statue of a chocolate Easter Rabbit. What's that? More candy downstairs? This was our fatal mistake. The amount of candy upstairs was nothing compared to the candy downstairs. Here there were machines to fill your own Pixie Sticks, rows of dispensers for Jelly Belly eggs, M&Ms, and bins of Bubble Gum of all shapes and sizes.
One long wall was covered with PEZ dispensers, another revealed the nostalgic candy of my childhood.... Clove and Teaberry gum, Bit O'Honey, Good 'n Plenty and those bubble gum cigarettes that Dad would never let us buy. Not only candy, but colorful accessories, flip-flops, tank tops, t-shirts, umbrellas, baby clothes, and candy scented bath products. My favorite hung next to a wall of Marshmallow Peeps... a t-shirt boasting a lovely little Peep and the words... "Give Peeps A Chance." Dylan's even has a party room and a party was in progress while we were there. Can you imagine being a child with a party there? Everything sweet and gooey and a huge sugar high to go along with the birthday excitement!

Yes, my twenty year old baby went nuts in this place. We were there over an hour and a half while she tried to make up her mind. This isn't always easy for her to do even when faced with only two choices. Imagine what happened when the choices went up exponentially! But it was one of her favorite excursions in Manhattan. So, if you're ever there check Dylan's Candy Bar out. It is located at Lexington Ave. and 59th St. in Manhattan. We took the 2 subway from Brooklyn, changing to the 4 which let us off just outside the building.

As I leave you in a "sugar coma" or else pining away for one, here is a heartfelt wish:

(end of post)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pure Color

Poppy red. Macro shot.
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"Nowhere in nature can you find purer color than sunlight passing through the petal of a flower." ~ Larry K. Stephenson
I know this shot is partially out of focus and the edges a bit fuzzy; but the color is spectacular. Red is so hard to photograph. This poppy grew in our patch of wildflowers with petals tissue paper thin and translucent. White siding on the house in the background and the dark black stamen and rounded pistil front and center, make the red petals pop! Early afternoon photography with the sun just at an angle over the roofline and a slightly drooping flower, the result? True red color and a central halo of light.

Submission for Thursday Challenge topic "color". (end of post)

A Golden Crown

Dandelion: A golden crown
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"It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren, stony street, to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun." ~ Henry Ward Beecher
The roses may have aphids, my wildflowers may be decimated by grasshoppers, the four o'clocks may be overwhelmed by the heat and the daylily overcome by drought; but there are still golden sparks of color in the yard. Dandelions: resistant to everything, self-perpetuating, impervious, wild, untamed, weed. Yet, from this angle and with the setting sun filtering through the petals, it reminds me of a golden crown; a royal flower.

Submission for LensDay topic "golden". (end of post)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Sunny Tummy

Mr. Rhett turns his tummy, sunnyside up.
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"If you,
Like me,
Were made of fur,
And sun warmed you,
Like me
You'd purr."
~ Karla Kuskin
Mr. Rhett finds a sunbeam and takes full advantage. Usually he doesn't sleep belly up, but what cat could resist such a great patch of sun to warm his tummy. Now the question becomes..... will his sunny spot stay put for the duration of this nap? Rhett wanted to show off his tummy for Tummy Tuesday this week.

Mr. Rhett is hoping to see Sophie at Friday's Ark this week. He also loves to visit all his friends at the Carnival of the Cats, hosted this week by Watermark. (end of post)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand." ~ Mother Teresa
Stawberries are almost out of season, but we can still find a few in the store. I just didn't get my fill of strawberry shortcake this summer. In fact, I believe Mom only made it once and I had already gone to New York. I love strawberry pie too.

In Oklahoma City we had a restaurant called "Tippins", that made the biggest, most scrumptious stawberry pie ever. Large whole berries with a sweet gel glaze and stacked with real whipped cream, YUMMMMM!!!!! Guess what I ordered right after Nyssa was born. Right! I wanted one of those pies!!!!

Submission for Tuesdays Photos topic "fruit". (end of post)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

New York City Nights

City nights, city lights. NYC, August 2006.
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"It is the only town where one's eyes are drawn all the time away from the ground into the sky." ~ Freya Stark, Dust in the Lion's Paw
Early August in New York; hot and humid, but it's New York! After Wicked we walked around on our way back to the subway. The streets were teaming with people even at 11PM; bicycle rickshaw taxis on every corner and lined up next to the theaters. Potential customers swarmed out of the lavish venues, talking excitedly, laughing; reliving the magic just witnessed. The larger than life billboards, flashing police cruiser lights, gigantic television screens high on the side of a building playing commercials for hair color, designer jeans, Nike. Horns honking, the smells of hot dogs and pizza and the rumble of the subway below ground, followed by a blast of air through the vent grates in the sidewalk beneath our feet. Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, downtown Manhattan; the city is alive at night, even more so than during the business day.

Manhattan skyline.
"New York is a galaxy of adventure at once elegant, exciting and bizarre. It's a city that moves so fast, it takes energy just to stand still." ~ Barbara Walters
Back in Brooklyn, we watch the skyline of Manhattan from the apartment window with the lights outlining the buildings and shining brightly from the windows of skyscrapers. The night crews are cleaning offices, business men and women are working late, night traders dealing in the overseas markets; all in preparation for a new day.

Empire State Building

Further to the north stands the Empire State building; tall and straight with the spire lit brightly. Some nights it is red, other nights green. Tonight it is white, crowned with a blinking ruby jewel. The skyline of New York, morning or night; priceless.

(end of post)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Just A Stone's Throw

Stone from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Macro.
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"The block of granite, which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, becomes a stepping stone in the pathway of the strong." ~ Thomas Carlyle
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden contains large rocks and boulders that are marked with geological information. Many had unusual coloration and textures and all are intimately intermixed with various local plants along pathways and in the rock gardens. Nyssa says this looks like a metamorphic rock, possibly gneiss, perhaps with flecks of iron (reddish brown color). I Googled it and the parent stone is probably granite. Actually it does look like granite. I love the yellow mixed with the black and iron colors and the granular look. No wonder granite countertops are so beautiful.

Submission for MacroDay topic "stone". (end of post)

A Trip To The Beautician...

The before and after of it all.
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"Tresses, that wear
Jewels, but to declare
How much themselves more precious are."
~ Richard Crashaw
Nyssa has the kind of hair many women would kill for. She didn't get it from her dad and certainly not from me. I think a fairy came by and dusted her head when she was little. If she wants to wear it straight, it will respond to a flatiron like magic and stay straight. If she wants it curly, she simply towel dries, applies a little mousse and the curls hang in ringlets. It is the loose curl I always tried to get with those "body wave" perms and ended up with the "dome of frizzy" on top.

Nyssa's hair had not seen a stylist since Christmas. After her summer excursions to Hawaii, Mississippi, summer school and New York, she decided it was long enough to cut. Her idea was to cut enough to send to Locks of Love; three hours later she held a ponytail about 12 inches long in her hands and sported a new shorter hairdo. It actually comes almost to her shoulders when straightened and is sleek and lovely that way. She prefers the "no work" curls; pulls up a pony tail on top of her head with the shorter strands hanging down around her neck... looks like a little Flinstones "Pebbles".

Locks of Love takes the donated hair and weaves wigs for children and teenagers who are fighting cancer and other diseases that result in hair loss; a wonderful charity!

(end of post)

Friday, August 25, 2006

In The Gazebo

Circle mosaic in dome of gazebo. Prospect Park. Brooklyn, NY.
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"Circle are praised, not that abound
In largeness, but the exactly round."
~ Edmund Waller, Long and Short Life
The summer afternoon was hot when Nyssa and I finished our long walk through Prospect Park in Brooklyn. That first day we forgot to take water, novices that we were; so the cold drink stand on the corner was a welcomed sight. One advantage of being the parent of a college student? You can send them to stand in line and procure the drinks while you find a place; any place to sit, get off the feet and out of the sun. I slipped into a shaded stone gazebo nestled into the edge of the park. Trees surrounded it on three sides and a concrete slab bench curved around the wall. The bench was hard, but felt like heaven after three hours of exploring. It echoed. I looked up and there, ten feet above my head was this dome. Rings of gray stone, some with a tinge of yellow and this central circle of tiles, subtle shades of green. Together a circle mosaic. Cool. Comforting. A place to rest.

Submission for Photo Friday topic "circle". (end of post)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tucker "Dude": 1989 - 2006

Tucker. July 2006. (Click pictures for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat." ~ Leo Dworken
A Message from Heaven
Speak not of death
for there is no such thing-
there is merely a parting of the ways.
I will walk on a little while
and wait
for you to count the sum of all your days.
And when you come
you'll find me waiting
with shining eyes
and silken well groomed fur.
You'll take me in your arms
just as you used to do
and angel choirs will be
drowned out by purrs.
~ By Helen Mack
(From Cindy's Cat Pages: 140)
Just three weeks ago I held Tucker in my arms and scratched his ears as he purred. He was my charge and I was his "nanny" for two weeks. He became my "Tucker Dude" and at almost 17 years of age he was quite the gentleman, at least to his humans. Yesterday, August 23rd, Tucker took his final trip to the dreaded vet and his suffering was ended. Fortunately for him, his last illness was short and the end quick, as he was severely ill for only a few days. But for his "Mom", Diane and his "Dad", Alec it was much too sudden. The cancer stayed hidden until just before the end, but he knew it was his time to go; as all animals know.

Diane said, "Tucker was indeed a dude! He was a blue collar street cat from Chicago! He was a strange mug of a guy and so darn lovable!" He had his quirks. My brother was his "Uncle" all these years and loved to tease him with a flashlight or laser light. Tucker never did figure out that it was just a light and he would launch himself in the air to grab that spot off the wall.

A Younger Tucker. (Picture by Diane)

Tucker went through a period of extreme "night vocalization", to the point that neither Diane nor Stephen could get any sleep. Stephen says there were those moments when he was trapped in a car with Tucker, traveling cross-country and his loud, persistent meowing got on his very last nerve. "There were many times on that trip I could have rolled down the window and sent him sailing out of the car, but then he would snuggle on your lap and endear himself completely."

Stephen & Tucker: They were both much younger in this picture.
Stephen had no gray in his hair. (Picture by Diane)

These last few years Tucker lost his hearing; thus his meows became even louder. I experienced this at 4AM when he decided he was hungry. While I may have indulged his whims at this early hour and upset all of Diane's training; I'm glad I fed him whenever he wanted food and rubbed his head whenever he wanted it and brushed his coat and rearranged our sleeping positions so he could have the middle of the bed. None of us knew his time was so short.

My only regret? I would have taken more pictures of Tucker those two weeks in New York. Nyssa and I were fortunate to get to know him, even if only for a short time. He was the "Tucker Dude". He was rescued from the streets. He was given an extravagant life. He was loved by many. He will be missed by all his humans.

Rest in Peace, Tucker.

Tucker visited Friday's Ark a few weeks ago and his memorial will be posted there this week. (end of post)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Water lily. Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
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"Broad water-lilies lay tremulously,
And starry river-buds glimmered by,
And around them the soft stream did glide and dance
With a motion of sweet sound and radiance."
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Sensitive Plant (pt. I)
Have I ever told you how passionately I love water lilies? Yes? Well, once is not enough. This is absolutely my favorite picture of the water lilies at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Why is it my favorite? I think it's the colors that shift ever so slightly as the eye is pulled toward the center; the shades of pastel apricot sherbet blending with pale lemon yellow ice in the outer petals. Then that flash of hot yellow with an intense almost tangerine orange tinge in the background. These blooms floating among the deep emerald green lily pads were breathtaking. No wonder the dragonfly were thick, dancing along the waters surface, pirouetting lightly on these gems.

Submission for Thursday Challenge topic "plants". (end of post)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Rumbly Tumbly

Nicky, checking out that sound in his tummy.
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"When I'm rumbly in my tumbly
Then it's time to eat."
~ Winnie the Pooh
Nicky hears a noise. What is it? Must be that big white tummy ready for something to eat; but will it be enough to move him from his soft sleeping place?

He's going to have to think about this a little longer. By the way, Nicky doesn't think very fast; in fact, he doesn't do anything very fast. So, this might take a while. Nick really is a lot like Winnie the Pooh; well, he doesn't care for honey, but he does have a sweet tooth.... Pop Tarts and marshmallows!

This is Nicky's first Tummy Tuesday entry. He also asked if he could visit Friday's Ark and the Carnival of the Cats this week. Catymology is the host this Sunday.

(end of post)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Recycled (Nest, Not Post)

First there was one. (Click all pictures for larger views) Posted by Picasa
"Doves build practically the worst nests of any bird there is. They put a few sticks in the branch of a tree and that's it. It's horrible." ~ Doug Bowman
Last year the Mourning Doves built a nest in our fig tree and it's true; just a few twigs, nothing to make it stable. They also seem to move the baby birds out of the nest only days after they hatch, perhaps to brush beneath the bushes.

This year we had a nest of robins build in an evergreen bush at the end of the house. You can read about our disaster and makeshift artificial nest here. One commenter called it our FEMA nest. I intended to clean the FEMA nest out but became preoccupied with my pumpkins. (another post) Only five days after the robins left, Dad came in and announced that we had another occupant in our pipe cleaner anchored, plastic nest. Sure enough, there it was; one small pale pink egg on a layer of fresh pine needles.

(Click "read more" below to continue with story and pictures)

A couple of days later, there were two. This nest still had the base of mud mixed with twigs and paper that was the remnant of the robins disaster. It had the outer plastic shell and pine needles we had added, plus a few of its own. While this bird did not have obvious building skills, he did know a good thing when he saw it.

At first, Mother Mourning Dove was very skiddish, and flew off the nest when I tried to take her portrait, but as days progressed she grew accustomed to my camera. Papa, however would pace back and forth on the roof at the edge of the house and chirp loudly.

I thought it would take about fourteen days for these babies to hatch so I kept close watch. Mama grew more and more possessive of her nest and more bold or comfortable with the camera.

But my time was short! I had to go to New York in two more days and still, no babies! On Wednesday, I thought for sure they had hatched. Mama would not leave the nest at all. Perhaps they have hatched and she is sitting on the babies to keep them warm? I just had to know! So I tried to get her off the nest for just a few moments.

What did she do when I put my hand in to move the branch aside? She hit me! She slapped my hand with her wing! Mama wouldn't move but she hit me! I finally did see beneath her wing and alas, no babies, just eggs. They would hatch while I was gone.

Sure enough, two and a half weeks later, on my return, the nest was empty. The babies gone, but wait.... under the holly bush in the front yard.... yes, a young mourning dove walking back and forth. She was almost full grown but you could tell she was still a young one. For one week she stayed under the bush, only flying up to the roof or to a nearby tree if pressed. I left bread crumbs, nuts, and water. What happened? Why was she still there and alone? I found a bunch of feathers near the evergreen that housed the nest. Was her nest mate killed? Or her mother? Did she not know where to go or what to do? She could fly away but came back each night to the haven beneath the bushes. Then, just as suddenly, she was gone. We saw her last on Saturday morning. She flew into the woods behind the house.

I wonder if we should keep that FEMA nest available and ready. I've cleaned it out now. Will robins try again there? Perhaps the mourning doves will return next year; but I'll probably have to build the nest for them. Perhaps we could post a notice:
Nest for rent. Cheap.
Sturdy, good drainage.
Furnished on request.
Apply within.
(end of post)

New York Heat Wave

Hot sun in the summertime. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Very hot and still the air was,
Very smooth the gliding river,
Motionless the sleeping shadows."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
August 2nd and 3rd. Two days. Two long hot days. Temperatures just above 100 degrees. Humidity at 75% and heat indices around 110 degrees. No breeze. The result? Two days to sleep, sit in front of the fan, conserve the electricity, try to stay cool. Bad days to walk the gardens, ride the subway or shop. Hard days for city dogs; the pavement blistering. The sky over Manhattan was usually clear, but with the heat came haze and with haze came the one upside to this weather, spectacular sunsets.

Submission to Thursday Challenge for topic "hot". (end of post)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Power of Three

Three: Female squash flower with three stigmata. (Macro)
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"My whole outlook on life changed with those three little words, 'The rabbit died'." ~ Anonymous Mother
This year I tried to grow squash, little white pan squash, but it didn't work. At first the vines grew green and strong; large yellow flowers appeared and I kept waiting to see the squash, but the flowers simply wilted, no squash. More flowers bloomed and these looked promising with small bulges beneath the bloom. But these too dried up and turned brown; again no squash, no babies to pamper. Finally all the vines wilted and died. What happened? I discovered that squash and other plants in this family have separate male and female flowers on each plant. The males usually bloom first to attract the bees. Isn't that strange? Usually it's the female who has to be "attractive." Later, the female flowers bloom along with the male flowers and the bees do the pollination tango. Apparently this plant had MBD, or "Male Bloom Dysfunction." All the male flowers hit full bloom before this female flower opened. No pollination, no squash. Why did this happen? Who knows. Perhaps we'll have better luck next year.

Submission for MacroDay topic "three". (end of post)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Let's Pretend!

Childhood friends: Lori D. and Nyssa.
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"Childhood is the world of miracle and wonder; as if creation rose, bathed in the light, out of the darkness, utterly new and fresh and astonishing. The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us." ~ Eugene Ionesco (1912 - 1994) Romanian-French dramatist
Let's pretend!! I'm the mommy and you're the grandma; or I'm the teacher and you're the student or we can both be astronauts! Let's pretend we have a ranch with lots of horses and mountains and this broom will be my golden Palomino and yours will be a white stallion. Let's pretend!

The joys of childhood when anything and everything you imagined could come true; the time of neverending possibilities, when hours drug out like days and weeks seemed like an eternity. Weaving story webs with friends in hats and baby dolls in strollers; giggling, singing, squealing and laughing until you dropped to the ground from exhaustion and pure satisfaction. The days when getting dirty all over was expected and making mudpies acceptable; when song lyrics such as "Down by the bay, where the watermelon grows...." and "I like to eat, eat, eat, apples and bananas..." were actually in vogue; and when art meant chalk drawings on the sidewalk or watercolors on butcher paper.

Do we lose this as adults? I hope not! Put me in a garden with wild splashes of color; or in a good book; or in the Uffizi museum of Florence and it comes flooding back. The colors, textures, word pictures, brush strokes, chiseled angles and smooth lines astonish me over and over again and that ability to lose oneself in time returns...... Childhood.

Submission for PXITE topic "childhood". (end of post)

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Tall And Short Of It

Nyssa & Margaret.
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"Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life." ~ Pythagoras (582BC - 507BC)
Students at William and Mary.
Summer session roommates.
Studious and thoughtful.
Short and tall.
Love fun.

Submission for Photo Friday topic "friends". (end of post)