Sunday, December 31, 2006

Good-bye 2006......

......The Year of the Dog
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"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
~ T.S. Eliot
I have never really enjoyed reflecting back on the year past; perhaps it is the frustration of all the "would of, could of, should of" things that have come and gone. Some years bring major accomplishments such as graduations, marriages or the birth of a child and these hold fond memories we love to savor. Other years hold death, divorce, failure or loss and are probably best forgotten, however, these are the years; the thoughts and memories we tend to clinch tightly in our fists like a two year old when told to put down a favorite toy. And frankly, I have no idea of how to deal with years that bring a mixture of immense joy and deep despair. So I must march on, looking forward in hope to 2007.

This brings me to my picture choice; a dog.... a very big dog, sitting on his owner's lap, his head and upper body parts hanging out the window. Stopped at a light but soon to be driving down a very busy road. Now that is a trick to pull off. 2006 was the Chinese Year of the Dog, hence the picture. As we look forward in "hope" to the New Year, just remember.... 2007 is set to be the Year of the Pig. How this will affect those whose New Year's resolution is to lose weight, remains to be seen.

Submission to SeeItSunday topic "2006". (end of post)

PS: I am going to have to devise a notation for pictures taken with the older camera and those with the newer... any ideas? This was taken with the older.

The Eye Has It

Not a "happy" eye there, Clover! Macro.
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"A cat's rage is beautiful, burning with pure cat flame, all its hair standing up and crackling blue sparks, eyes blazing and sputtering." ~ William S. Burroughs
Get Fuzzy is Nyssa's favorite comic. The characters include a scruffy man, a part Shar-pei dog named Satchel and Bucky, a potbellied, opinionated Siamese cat with a bad attitude. In other words, Bucky IS our Miss Clover! She was born out of sorts, angry with the world and all things that do not suit her fancy. I'm not sure what .... wait, oh yes I do know what she was angry about. There is a camera about two inches from her face and she doesn't want to pose! Of all our cats, hers are the most glorious eyes; deep blue with a marbleized effect that makes them pop against her almost black mask and ears. With these eyes she can afford to be a diva!

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

Friday, December 29, 2006

All Ready For The "New" Year

"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."
~ Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

My baby brother is wonderful!!!! Look what he got me for Christmas!!!
No one in the WORLD has a better brother!!!
(Please click the pictures to see larger views)
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"Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero" ~ Marc Brown
"My brother is a superhero!" ~ srp
My brother got me a new camera and I thought it was perfect for the "new" theme this week; so I thought I would take a picture of my new camera, but to do that I would have to use my "old" camera. He gave me my "old" camera too but it would be confusing to have a "new" picture taken with an "old" camera, so I took a picture of the picture of my new camera that is on the cover of the new manual and I used my new camera to do it. There! I am blurring my eyes so I don't have to re-read that paragraph; it rambles, I know. But, I still feel like there is this little girl inside me with her face all scrunched up in delight, holding her new camera tightly in her hands, dancing round and round on tippy-toes with excitement and singing "Look and see, look and see, a pretty new camera just for me!" That little girl rambles! So..... I decided to take some NEW pictures....

An unburned candle. (Macro)

While this isn't technically a new candle, it has never been burned. Hence, only my honesty lets you know that this was not a recently gifted candle. It was however a gift from a previous Christmas..... but again, I ramble. How about another one......

Lady Willow with her new look.... clean!

Willow has been sitting under the piano bench bathing in the gentle colored lights of the Christmas tree. She has also been bathing.... yes, really! She had her yearly bath. Willow is pretty docile, sad and unhappy, but docile in the tub. It is the aftermath of brushing and combing and an hour of air blow drying that is the most difficult for one who gives the bath. That would be my daughter Nyssa this year. Here she looks fluffy and clean and new and seems quite pleased with herself. And last but definitely not least .......

Our house at dusk... all decked out!

This is a compilation picture from two taken with my new camera and stitched together. You really have to click on the picture to get the larger, full effect. This camera captures the colors of sunset in amazing fashion. I balanced the camera on the roof of my daughter's Honda Civic and surprise...... the Christmas lights reflected off the car finish, even though it needs a bath too. I am sooooo excited!!! This new camera is going to be so much fun!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you Stephen!!!

The theme for Saturday Photo Scavenger Hunt this week is "new", couldn't you tell? You can go here to "Grab the Scavenger Hunt code" and here to join the blogroll. This really cute new logo is available there as well. The link to other participants is in my blogroll on the sidebar.
(end of post)

Flowers Of Hope

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (Discovery Garden). August 2006.
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"Where flowers bloom so does hope." ~ Lady Bird Johnson,
Public Roads: Where Flowers Bloom
I don't know the name of these flowers that bloomed in the Discovery area of Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I wish I did. The milky white petals with a tinge of pink, spring to life against the background of deep, dark burgundy-violet leaves. This was one of my favorite pictures this year.... OK, one of my several hundred favorite. It is almost impossible to pick a favorite when every picture speaks a story and captures a memory; each different and precious.

For today, this moment, it is my favorite. Why? Another year has come and gone and instead of looking back at things not done, opportunities not taken or all those "what ifs" that plague us along the way, we should look forward into the new year. It is time to take on a fresh dose of hope; for as surely as the winter winds blow cold and damp, the spring comes with the promise of new life and these flowers will again bloom for all to enjoy.

Submission to PhotoFriday topic "best of 2006". (end of post)

Chloe And "The Lump" (Clover)

Chloe: "Hey! Clover! What are you doing?"
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"Is it yet another survival of jungle instinct, this hiding away from prying eyes at important times? Or merely a gesture of independence, a challenge to man and his stupid ways?"
~ Michael Joseph
Chloe: "Where are you going Clover? That is mom's robe and she isn't going to like this!! Don't you want to play?"

Clover: "Mowwwww. OK, nudge and push and wiggle and pull and turn and paw. Mowwww. I can do this."

Clover: "See, now I am hidden. No one can see me. Go away Chloe! You're going to ruin this for me!"

Chloe: "But, I don't want to go away! You are supposed to play with me! Then we are supposed to curl up and take naps and then wash up and go eat supper. How long are you going to stay under that thing? You don't really think you're fooling anyone do you?"
Clover: "Grrrrrrlllll.....Go away!"

Chloe: "No, you're not fooling anyone Clover! Mom is going to come in and see your big lumpy self under that robe and she is going to get you! Hey, you really better be careful, she might sit on you! Wahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Meow..."

Chloe: "You can stay there if you want; I'll just curl up here next to "the lump". This robe is just as warm on the outside.....Yawnnnnnnn! Zzzzzzzzzz!"
Clover: (sigh) "Someone please tell me again why I had to have a sister.... hmmmmmm."

The 'lump' will drag herself onto Friday's Ark this week and if she gets over her mood, she might be a bit more sociable at the Carnival of the Cats on Sunday. The New Year's Eve edition is hosted by Watermark. Happy New Year! (end of post)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Santa's Happy Helper

Girl in Santa hat; happy, or simply demented by lack of sleep? You decide.
(Click picture for larger view or maybe not, that oral cavity is a bit scary!)
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"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other" ~ Burton Hillis
Santa aka Uncle Stephen, was very good to Nyssa this year...., actually he was very, very good to all of us this year. I will have more about that later this week, hopefully. I think Nyssa is also happy to be away from school and able to sleep and sleep and sleep some more. We had our traditional breakfast of Potica bread, a fabulous turkey with trimmings and a long phone conversation with Stephen in Vienna. Only his presence here would have made the day perfect!

I hope all of you had a happy, happy Christmas with family and friends and that the coming New Year will bring health, joy and peace!

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

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Winter At The Beach? In Your Dreams

Winter.. but not at the beach. (Northern Indiana, January)
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"Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour." ~ John Boswell
No! This is not winter in Virginia Beach! It did snow this year, last January; in fact it was a two inch show on my birthday. Since then, nothing. Yesterday, Christmas Day we had temperatures in the 70's, rain and tornado watches. It was a "winter" day in name only.

This picture is from my cousin's house near Ft. Wayne, Indiana. It was winter, late January and very cold. Eight inches of snow fell the night we arrived and it was so cold the windshield washer fluid froze solid, but the house was warm and toasty, a large wood burning stove in the lower level saw to that. The morning light revealed a winter wonderland of bright white on tree limbs, rooftops and the deck off of the dining area. Kenny leaves seeds and suet for the birds and squirrels on this porch railing; that morning there were many hungry visitors. The bright red feathers of the cardinal brightened up the landscape that for all purposes could have been photographed in black and white, with few differences in outcome.

I wonder if we will get snow this winter, here at the beach..... not likely, but I can dream.

Submission for Tuesday Challenge topic "winter". (end of post)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Joy To The World.....

...the Lord has come. Posted by Picasa
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
~ Luke 2: 1 - 20 (NIV)
The Nativity is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. This set was carved in Austria and given to my mother by my brother. He still wants to add sheep, shepherds and an angel. The wise men are in place. It is simple, beautiful and reminds us of God's gift of love in the form of a small baby who, by his life, death and resurrection, gives all people the means to triumph over evil and death as well. This is the true joy, peace and love of Christmas.

Several bloggers have posted their nativity to share this Christmas Day. To see others visit Iris at Sting My Heart. (end of post)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Give and Take.... the circle of life; the bee and the flower. Macro.
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"Give and Take...
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love
And to both, bee and flower,
the giving and the receiving is a need and an ecstasy.
~ Kahlil Gibran
I went through this year's catalog of pictures looking for my "Best Macro of 2006" and came up with sixteen that really spoke to me. Nyssa helped me weed it down to twelve pictures and after some time away from the computer to make another loaf of potica bread (I think that puts the total up to twelve this year), I returned and narrowed the field down to four; then down to one. This picture was one of six hundred I took at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden this summer; yes, I went overboard but everything was so beautiful! I don't know what this small flower's scientific name is or its common name for that matter. The bee was very small, about the size of what we called a "sweat bee" when I was a child.
He was in the process of delivering his load of pollen and drinking in the flower's offer of sweet nectar. The bee was still for only a moment; in one shot he was there and in the next, vanished. I loved the bold markings on the small bee and the sunny center of the flower with those tiny white petals.

Submission for MacroDay topic "Best of 2006". (end of post)

A Perfect Christmas

Holiday reminders. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions." ~ Bill McKibben
Red, green, gold and silver; the colors of Christmas grace our tables. Chocolate fudge, peppermints and candy canes, and divinity; the candies of Christmas tempt us in bowls and in stockings. Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, colorful jello salads and fruit mixes with cranberry sauce; the holiday menu we come to expect each year. The traditions of Christmas Eve services, Christmas morning breakfasts and opening gifts bring joy and laughter to our hearts and home. Christmas gave man the ultimate gift of hope in Christ the son of God. All of our holiday traditions, decorations, family gatherings and the giving of gifts serve to remind us of that one perfect gift; for the very first Christmas was a perfect Christmas.

Submission for SeeItSunday topic "holiday". (end of post)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Lines of Distinction


Lines bringing strength to the Brooklyn Bridge.....
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"Good composition is like a suspension bridge - each line adds strength and takes none away." ~ Robert Henri (American urban realist painter, 1865-1929)
An imposing structure, the Brooklyn Bridge; the lower level contains four lanes of highway, two lanes each direction and the second level is home to a wide footpath for pedestrians and a bicycle path with resting areas around both of the great anchoring towers. The heavy cables and wire that suspend the weight of that bridge and the weight of hundreds of cars during rush hour are all anchored by only two towers; what strength in those lines, what beautiful form and remarkable function. well as a most distinctive architectural form and beauty.

The theme for Saturday Photo Scavenger Hunt this week is "lines". You can go here to "Grab the Scavenger Hunt code" and here to join the blogroll. The link to other participants is in my blogroll on the sidebar.

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After The Rain....

...... a December rainbow. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow." ~ G. K. Chesterton (Essayist, Novelist and Poet, 1874-1936)
December 1st dawned as a bright sunny day with very mild temperatures into the 70's, but a cold front was coming; the day will cloud over and rain showers, even thunderstorms are likely to occur. I had been putting off the trip to the storage unit to find Christmas lights, ornaments and wrapping paper, so before the temperature took a plunge I headed in that direction. I didn't make it. In a matter of minutes the clouds rolled in and a downpour began. I drove through the large raindrops and waited for the showers to ease up, then dashed inside the unit. While I rummaged through the remnants of my former life, the sun began to shine ever so slightly as the clouds rolled on out to sea. Suddenly above the rooftop of Jack Rabbit storage, a brilliant rainbow appeared in an arc across the sky, bright against the background of gray billowing clouds! It lasted no more than a few minutes, then faded with the sun as a chill blew in with the wind; but in that brief moment it blazed strong with a colorful promise of hope. We can all use a little hope for the coming year. Sudden, unexpected, fleeting rainbows; another reason to ALWAYS carry the camera in my purse.

Submission for PhotoFriday topic "weather". (end of post)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Ghost of Christmas Presents

Who is this ghost of the Christmas presents?
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"I am the Ghost of Christmas Present," said the Spirit. "Look upon me!" ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Someone has been under the tree looking at all the Christmas presents. Could there be a bag with catnip toys or a box of kibble or a ball with a bell inside? I'm not sure, but someone has been doing MORE than just looking; someone has been sniffing, licking and biting.... the bows! Teeth marks on the ribbons; red ones, white ones, green and gold ones, even the silver metallic ones. Some bows are missing. Someone has just been caught in the act! And yet, who is it? This "ghost" is faster than the camera's shutter, simply a blur headed for a hiding place away from prying eyes. Nicholas is the only "ghost" it could be. Why? All the other cats would simply sit and stare at the camera as if to say, "And why shouldn't I chew the bows, everything on the floor is MINE!" Only Nicky has this flight response when faced with discovery.... Nicky, our shadowy "ghost" of the Christmas presents.

All the kitties here at our home send Christmas greetings and heartfelt wishes to all the animals who board Friday's Ark this week and to all the cats who will rendezvous at the Carnival of the Cats on Sunday. The carnival is hosted this Christmas Eve by IMAO. (end of post)

Sleeping Star

Willow: I hope this fame won't go to her head! Posted by Picasa
"To please herself only, the cat purrs." ~ Irish Proverb
Miss Willow is having pleasant dreams behind that bushy tail; I can tell because she purrs and twitches. It must be all the excitement of being included in the Holiday Edition of Funny Pets......Cats in Hats for Christmas. There are a lot of funny kitties showing off their holiday spirit. Someone asked if catnip was planted in the hat to entice her; no, she just naturally sticks her nose into everyone's business!

I am off to the vet with the dog and then to Williamsburg to photograph the decorations and feast on the still life art exhibit at William and Mary.

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A Toy? No, A Friend

Nyssa and her favorite toy, "Teddy". (Age 2) Posted by Picasa
"Any parent who has ever found a rusted toy automobile buried in the grass or a bent sand bucket on the beach knows that objects like these can be among the powerful things in the world. They can summon up in an instant, in colors stronger than life, the whole of childhood at its happiest - the disproportionate affection lavished on some strange possession, the concentrated self-forgetfulness of play, the elusive expressions of surprise or elation that pass so transparently over youthful features." ~ from The Timeless House of Children’s Games, Sports Illustrated, 12/26/60
Nyssa has had "Teddy" since birth. For eight years, Teddy played ten nursery rhyme songs when his tummy was pressed; then his tummy player wore out and started skipping songs or garbling the notes. Finally, he played one warbled rendition of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm", then his music box died; fresh batteries no longer fixed the problem. But Nyssa loved her "Teddy" just as much as always. He has been to Austria and Italy and Disney World. He has been washed and dried numerous times, seams repaired and cataracts treated with nail polish. He is ragged, but he is still the one and only "Teddy". Other bears have come and gone; none are quite as special..... as "Teddy".

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shimmering Sunrise

Shimmering ocean waters at dawn.... a solitary swimmer.
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"I love the sea's sounds and the way it reflects the sky. The colours that shimmer across its surface are unbelievable. This, combined with the colour of the water over white sand, surprises me every time." ~ John Dyer
Dawn comes and the light of the rising sun on a hot summer day, shimmers and shines on the ocean's surface. The ocean is never quiet and perfectly still; it is always in motion with huge waves crashing in foam on the shore and small ripples in the swirling eddies as its water returns to the sea. The ocean never rests, but the sounds it creates and the motion of the waves can calm the most restless mind; here on the sand, a moment of peace. Perhaps that is what beckons this early morning swimmer.

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Somebody's Gonna Get Coal

Someone decided to rearrange the nativity scene..... I wonder who?
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"Cats find malicious amusement in doing what they know they are not wanted to do, and that with an affectation of innocence that materially aggravates their deliberate offense." ~ Helen M. Winslow
Someone attacked the nativity set up on the low coffee table in the living room. Apparently, the positioning of Mary, Joseph and the shepherd weren't pleasing to their delicate senses. Of course it was obvious that they could do a much better job with the arrangement, switch Mary and Joseph, move the manger out a little so the donkey could see the Baby too. Yes, if they had just had more time, it would have worked out very well; but those people came in and found it before all the changes were made. And who would the "usual suspects" be?

First there is Willow, innocent looking enough; in fact she has this look down cold. When your back is turned she is putting pipe cleaners in the water bowl and fishing them out to then drop in the dry food bowl. She steals catnip toys from the other cats, chases the others as they walk through the room, boxes with Clover, and pushes in for attention when anyone else is getting petted. Her favorite pastime is hiding behind a box on the shelf over the covered cat box; when Maggie gets in the box to privately do her business, Willow will hang her head over the edge and stare into the opening. This of course freaks Maggie out.

The next suspect is Rhett. He already has the reputation since he was caught red pawed returning to the scene of his most recent crime.... shredding the toilet paper. Rhett loves to chew on bags; plastic or paper, with cat food or dog food. He has been caught on the dining room table chewing on a bag of scone mix..... one bag already chewed open and he had started on a second. Piles of flower were spilled on the table and his dark face was covered with the white flour. Rhett also has the habit of rushing into the middle of an altercation between cats, taking a couple of right cross punches at one of the participants and then dashing away. This always makes things worse.

The final suspect is Maggie. She is always out of sorts. She is mad at the other cats for moving in and mad at her mom and dad for letting those nasty things stay. She is mad because the other cats like to sit on the human laps and sleep on their feet and .... well, she just doesn't like to share anything. Maggie hisses at poor Nicky when he follows her around like a moon eyed puppy dog. She hisses and spits and swats and bites anyone who rubs her the wrong way or in the case of the cats.... looks at her.

So which one did this? We don't know for sure. I think Maggie did it. She had motive... to get the other cats in trouble. She had opportunity.... she sleeps in the house at night and has free roam. The others sleep together in the sunroom. Yes, she is just sneaky enough to do the job. I've set a little trap tonight... perhaps we'll know for sure in the morning. Perhaps the cats at Cats on Tuesday hosted by gattina will vote too.

All the kitties here at our home send Christmas greetings and heartfelt wishes to all the animals who board Friday's Ark this week and to all the cats who will rendezvous at the Carnival of the Cats on Sunday. The carnival is hosted this Christmas Eve by IMAO. (end of post)