Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Gems Of Morning

A bug's eye view of morning dew... (Click to enlarge) Posted by Picasa

"How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity under roses and violets and morning dew!" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

How intimidating is this dewdrop poised atop the blade of grass like a street light that magnifies the rays of the morning sun? What if you were the lowly ant.... and the giant sphere quivered, then dropped... on your head? The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

We, the giants in the land, tramp through the wet morning grass, scarcely thinking of what bustle of activity is happening beneath our feet. How our treading shakes the ground... earthquakes! Our wells and sprinkler systems soak the grass.... floods! Lawn mowers roar and rumble and large blades swish back and forth, ever closer to the ground... guillotines! What monsters the ants and beetles and other ground bugs must think we are!

I love taking the ground level view pictures. It reminds me of that old movie.. Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. At Universal Studios in Disneyworld, they have a playground that lets children and adults alike, feel like they are in this world where the miniature becomes the gigantic.... this picture reminds me of that park and oh, my!!!! Are those the eyes of a huge spider I see back in that jungle? Get me out of here!!!

"Dew-drops are the gems of morning,
But the tears of mournful eve!
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Youth and Age

This little or huge droplet... depending on YOUR perspective... will do for Watery Wednesday this week... it also fits nicely with Macroday's "fluid" theme as well.

(end of post)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Flowers Fiery Charm

Lantana sp. a favorite of the "flutterbys". Norfolk Botanical Gardens.
(Click to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa

"To analyze the charms of flowers is like dissecting music; it is one of those things which it is far better to enjoy than to attempt to understand." ~ Henry Theodore Tuckerman

The local botanical gardens have a new exhibit this year... a butterfly garden. While they have always had a beautiful huge outdoor butterfly garden filled with wildly and wonderfully unkempt flowers and bushes to attract the "flutterbys", they have added a mesh greenhouse exhibit where the butterflies are treated to all the nectar plants they love. Here they lay eggs, eat with larval abandon and form green dangling pupae on the mesh domed roof. The curators lovingly remove these to a viewing area where children and adults can watch the magic of metamorphosis occur, up close. And then the cycle continues. It is lovely, yet a little sad. These delicate creatures seem to long for their cousins that flit freely outside.... and though the lantana, black-eyed susan, holyhocks, yarrow, coneflowers, and copious numbers of butterfly bushes are available both within and without the enclosure... that unspoken call of freedom draws them to the mesh barriers over and over. Truly the grass is greener and the flowers more vibrant... on the other side of the road.

These lantana were so bright and beautiful... brilliant crimson and golden yellow. Some varieties have mixtures of these colors along with a hot pink and even white bloom. The nectar must be sweet... "flutterbys" love them. Teacher Mary at Work of the Poet hosts Ruby Tuesday each week... the reds you find there will certainly lift your spirits.

(end of post)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

SPH: The Rocks Cry Out

Shorelines and streams... rock.
(Click pictures to enlarge)

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters." ~ Norman Fitzroy Maclean, A River Runs Through It

"As hard as rocks" or so the saying goes; yet, combine them with soft lapping water at the shoreline or the melodic gurgling sounds of the flowing stream and together they stir the emotions and soften the heart. In each of these places, it is easy to relax and breath easy... letting the cares of the day slip away.

Bridges, walls, gardens.... rock.

"The beautiful must ever rest in the arms of the sublime. The gentle needs the strong to sustain it, as much as the rock-flowers need rocks to grow on, or the ivy the rugged wall which it embraces." ~ Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe

Rocks denote strength... "as solid as a rock". Giant stones form a sturdy bridge in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, a retaining wall at Norfolk Botanical Gardens and a foundation for beautiful plants in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Strong, holding firm... no one is afraid to walk on or beside these rocks.

Large boulders or small gravel..... rock.

"A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I wondered where this huge basket of rocks was headed... to build a gorgeous Gothic chapel or a beautiful fireplace or possibly to accent the front of a mansion. And these small smooth gravel fragments that form that driveway... to the library, to the new school, to that first home. Just a pile of rocks... until someone has an idea.

Colorful tumblers.....rock.

"We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them." ~ William Arthur Ward

Who knew rocks could be so colorful? Of course the colors you see in granite countertops, marble fireplaces, and in various semi-precious stones are all here. When I was a child my folks got me a rock tumbler one Christmas. With a little sand and water and time spent rolling together, all those sharp edges start smoothing away... the colors start to emerge and the dull, bland rocks morph into works of art. Aren't we like that.. rough and sharp on the edges, but with the irritations and abrasions of life, a little time under pressure and a little cooling off.. we smooth out, relax and let the inner beauty out. Hmm. Where did that rock tumbler disappear to?

Gold and diamonds and jewels....rock. Posted by Picasa

"She is mine own,
And I as rich in having such a jewel
As twenty seas, if all their sand were pearl,
The water nectar, and the rocks pure gold."
~ William Shakespeare

"Look at that rock on her finger!!" Some "rocks" sparkle and shine.. especially set in gold. Wouldn't it be nice if all of these were real? Just a thought!

Tennessee Chick graciously hosts Saturday Photo Hunt each week... and this week's theme is "rocks".

(end of post)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cow. 'Nother Cow. Actually, I Think That Was The Same Cow!

May 13, 2009.. Ponca City, Oklahoma Tornado
Picture by Nyssa.
(Click to enlarge)

"Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?" ~ Edward N. Lorenz

My daughter has become a free spirit, majoring in both English and Geology at William and Mary; now getting a masters degree in meteorology and going on for a doctorate.. well, in something related to both. In May, she took a two week course in storm chasing. Nyssa and seven other grad students along with two professors took off in the Mississippi State University van and headed to the state of her birth... Oklahoma. Other students, parents and the universe in general could follow their escapades on the MSU Storm Chase site. First there was a little grumbling about the much hyped Weather Channel Vortex2 project... there were going to be too many chasers... they have so much equipment and we don't.... the roads are going to be crammed with vans and trucks from this. But as it turned out... this was a very slow May for tornadoes in "tornado alley".

Nyssa called about a few near miss sightings and unusual cloud formations... but no tornadoes. They drove through Oklahoma to Texas and back again.. eventually traversing Kansas, Nebraska and up into Colorado. The web site had a handy GPS tracking map that showed where they were in real time.

They evaluated their maps and computer print outs and forecast predictions and decided to set up shop in Ponca City, Oklahoma for a couple of days. Meanwhile, the Vortex2 groups and Mike Bettis from the Weather Channel headed west, far west to Clinton, Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas in search of the elusive tornado. Then, finally, on Wednesday, May 13th, I received a text message.... "MOM!!! I just chased my FIRST tornado... COOL!!!" Pictures and a video appeared on the website later that evening.

Now, I must tell all grad student storm chasers out there... it is not a good idea to video a tornado chase with the sound on.... you could cause your parents great harm; especially when they hear..."Wow, look it's headed right for us!" Don't blog that, please!!! Another thing... it probably isn't the greatest idea to pose for a picture with the tornado still in the background... that doesn't help a mother's heart either.

May 13, 2009.. Ponca City, Oklahoma Tornado
Picture by Nyssa.
Posted by Picasa

Nyssa survived.. they all survived, they even had a mention on the Weather Channel one evening. I noticed the group was in Alliance, Nebraska and so was Mike Bettis when he came on with his update, and said.."You never know who you'll run into out here. Today, I met up with a group of grad students from Mississippi State in MacDonald's and they showed me their pictures and video of the Ponca City tornado. All I could do was stand there and cry..." You see.. the Vortex2 group with all its huge equipment and sophisticated trucks had miscalculated that day... they went west when they should have gone north, and they missed this tornado that day.

So, with Nyssa's help... she took the pictures and I cleaned them up... this is my Skywatch Friday submission for this week and I leave you with this alternate scale for evaluating the strength of tornadoes... do you think it will replace the Fujita Scale anytime soon?

Moojita Scale

M0 Tornado - Cows in an open field are spun around parallel to the wind flow and become mildly annoyed.
M1 Tornado - Cows are tipped over and can't get up.
M2 Tornado - Cows begin rolling with the wind.
M3 Tornado - Cows tumble and bounce.
M4 Tornado - Cows are AIRBORN.
M5 Tornado - S T E A K ! ! !

Addendum: Shutterday photo this week was weather and this was definitely WEATHER!

(end of post)

Eat Your Fruits And Veggies

An odd sort of food.... Yankee Candle Company
(Click picture to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa

"It's a very odd thing—
As odd as can be—
That whatever Miss T. eats
Turns into Miss T."

~ Walter De La Mare (1873-1956), British poet. Miss T. (l. 1-4). FaBoBe. Family Book of Best Loved Poems, The David L. George, ed. (1952) Doubleday & Company.

I wonder what Miss T would look like if she ate a few of these funny fruits and vegetables? These orange cats, cauliflower sheep, gourd geese, pear seals and banana octopus are strange and adorable figurines found in one of the shops at the Yankee Candle Company in Williamsburg, Virginia.

This is a wonderful place to shop that keeps families in mind. From the outside it looks like a large warehouse with facades of different houses painted in different colors and with different roof lines. When you walk into the front door, however, you step onto the mainstreet walkways of a bygone era, when people shopped in small towns, sat on wooden benches in front of the stores and strolled beneath old fashioned ornate street lamps. Above the curved ceiling is painted with blue skies and fluffy clouds and a full size flagpole stands in the center of "town" replete with a full-sized American flag. To the sides various shops open onto the street.. some selling candles, others include bed and bath items, decorative wall hangings, knick knacks, and stationary products. There is a toy store and a candy store with large bins of penny candy and clear plastic bags to shovel your finds into. High above the town square runs a toy train, the tracks weave in and out of the various stores and all around the outside walls. Town square hosts cookie shops, fudge shops, snack shops and small ice cream parlor chairs and tables to rest and watch the mechanical town clock clang. On the hour the clock opens and a group of automated puppets appear for ten minutes of music, song and jokes for the kids.

It is always Christmas here, as one shop specialized in ornaments and Christmas lights... it is guarded by a large nutcracker and boasts a bridge over a frozen pond where penguins and polar bears frolic in the snow. This room has a dark night sky with thousands of tiny twinkling star lights shining down and Christmas carols are always, always, always playing.

The Yankee Candle Company is a magical place to visit... so be sure to take your camera... photos are welcomed there.

Last week I was very late for Carmi's theme... so this week I'll try to be a little more prompt. His theme this week is "odd", things that are odd, unusual or funny. I also think these critters are quite colorful... in more ways than one.. so check out the other colorful creations at Color Carnival.

(end of post)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

From A Distance

... winter beach scenes. Virginia Beach.
(Click picture to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa

"One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star." ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

Distant time. You would not see this specific scene in summer. No wind swept empty beaches. No bundled children atop plodding horses. No empty fishing pier or cold frothy waves finding not bathing bodies but simply the shore.

Distant space. Specks against the beach and ocean... they are dark, bobbing slowly up and down. Horses and humans... that is for sure but at this distance are they young or old, are the jackets plaid or plain, are they laughing or simply staring off into the distance.

But, even at this distance.. somehow I know they are having fun... I would be. It is one of many fantasies I have that will not ever be... to own horses and have a deserted beach on which to ride with the wind at my heart's content. Not practical or possible, but a dream nevertheless.

Carmi's theme this week has been "distant" and with the crashing surf of our Atlantic Ocean... Watery Wednesday comes to mind.

(end of post)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Birds At My Feeder Part 4: Rubies In The Sky

House finch, male (Carpodacus mexicanus)
(Click picture to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa

"Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come." ~ Chinese Proverb

The house finch or common finch spends the entire year in our area. They have nested atop our large front columns and fill the air with a lovely warble each morning and evening as the male sits at the tip of the gable. These small birds are similar to the purple finch, except they are more ruby than magenta and they have underlying stripes on their breasts while the purple finch does not. Here, the purple finch is only seen in winter. These little creatures love our feeder, especially the platform where up to seven or eight may gather for sunflower chips and cracked corn. Very social, they mix well with goldfinch, sparrows... practically any other bird of its size. As with many species.. the female tends to be a dull brown in color a very like many different types of sparrows and the female pine siskin.

The day is always brighter when these small carolers show up... no matter what the time of year! Many other rubies may be seen at Ruby Tuesday each week.

(end of post)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Medley

Black-eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta
Common Fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus
(Click pictures to enlarge)

"I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself and felt that their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me, that makes photography more exciting." ~ Harry Callahan

Gray days give better colored pictures... less glare and fewer shadows in the way, a softer light. But these Black-eyed Susans shine and gleam on their own as if they grabbed every tiny molecule of light on this cloudy day and concentrated it into the substance of their yellow petals; enough shine to make their own shadows. Sharing the stage are the small white fleabane, with tiny yellow suns dotting the background. I can imagine laying on the ground looking up at a canopy of these wildflowers overhead, smelling the warm fresh earth and watching as they sway hypnotically back and forth in the light summer breeze. What a joy to experience nature through childlike eyes!


Nicky...the Clark Gable of Cats

"Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever . . . it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything." ~ Aaron Siskind

I have a lot of cats, I've had a lot of cats down through the years and they have all lived to a relatively old age. They go through the stages of life as we all do. Kittens play and jump and tumble an are quick, often too quick for the camera.. little blurs running around. Then suddenly, they drop... sound asleep, like babies have to take small naps in between making large noise. In young adulthood the cat is most interesting to photograph; a bit slower with more refined movement, he is interested in everything and often provides moments of comic bliss to capture on film.

Now, my cats have entered the "golden years" of life; all five are over 11 years old and no longer enticed by the latest catnip toy. They have developed sophisticated wants... a certain banana shaped catnip toy, a certain ball and mouse... all others lay dormant and untouched. Life is slow... no more fast movements, high leaps or intense curiosity... except for Mr. Rhett.. but that is a different story. Now, the cats sit for portraits, sometimes I think you could leave the shutter open for four or five seconds and they wouldn't move; the most difficult task is getting them to open their eyes for a good look at those baby blues. You wouldn't believe how many shots I get with eyes half open.

Soon, all too soon, they will pass on to be with the others who have gone before and I cannot stop time... except in pictures. So, even if the portraits tend to look the same and they sometimes show less than suave perfect fur... I still try to see that little spark behind the eye.. that shows how different each cat remains even now. And they are...unique... beautiful... friends.

Sepia Serenity... Camellia (Norfolk Botanical Garden) Posted by Picasa

"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence." ~ Ansel Adams

Sepia or black and white photos speak of age and wisdom. Our eyes and brains interpret what we see in color... and because of this, only the monochrome pictures can reveal mysteries that our eyes miss. These shots level the playing field for the flower... a lowly, dull, looked over plant brings as much beauty as the vibrant red rose. I love the colorful camellia flowers in our botanical garden.. they give life and warmth to the winter months here in Virginia. But I also love the delicate yet strong look that this sepia shot gives.

I chose three very different pictures for three different memes today... Mellow Yellow Monday, Blue Monday and Monochrome Maniacs (Monochrome Weekly).. these sites have many more participants with gorgeous photos. Please visit them to feast your eyes.

(end of post)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Finding Shade In The Shadows

Smiling on the outside, melting on the inside.
Daisy: "Hey! Mom! When can we go in?"
(Click picture to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa

"He that will enjoy the brightness of sunshine, must quit the coolness of the shade." ~ Samuel Johnson

I don't think Daisy will be moving from this shade anytime soon. It was hot and sweltering, humid and with a temperature of almost 97 degrees. The heat index was well over a hundred and we were only outside long enough to fill the bird feeders... but that seems to be too long for a certain cocker spaniel. She did her "business" in record time and wanted back into the cool den with its gently rotating ceiling fan. Here she could cuddle up on the loveseat or in her padded bed and snooze in comfort. But I wasn't finished with the job at hand. So what is a "hot dog" to do? Find the nearest shade of course, even if it is the smallest of trees, only planted a couple of years before...shade is shade. She grins as the shadows dance across her body and her face. I wonder...does Daisy think she can catch these sunbeams? No.. she just wants me to quit with the pictures and fill the feeders ... it is simply too hot to be out...

Did you find yourself a shadow to rest in today or is yours simply following you around being no comfort at all? More shadows are at Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday.

(end of post)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

SPH: Tip-Toe Through The Trash

Not much room left for dumpster diving here.
(You may click the picture to enlarge...
but why would you want to?)
Posted by Picasa

"My wife is always trying to get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go and keep an eye on it." ~ Rodney Dangerfield (American Comedian, 1921-2004)

I didn't have many pictures of actual garbage this week... though I have thrown away my fair share of pictures that were essentially garbage. This is it... the dumpster that currently resides on the street just outside our fence. It has been emptied once... and for a long time, there wasn't much in it. But that changed a lot this week and now it is filled with construction garbage..discarded wood fragments, stones, broken brick, patio pavers, wooden pallets and a variety of trash..oh, yes... and a few odd broken plastic chairs and a really raunchy door mat.

My next door neighbors are Navy and are being transferred clear across the country. Last week they had a dumpster delivered; now there are two... dueling dumpsters. But my dumpster is prettier, by far.

Tennessee Chick graciously hosts Saturday Photo Hunt each week... and this week's theme is "garbage". I am sure there are many more takes on this theme than my muddled mind could come up with this week... make sure to check them out.

(end of post)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Two Bumps On A Wall....

Two bumps on a wall, or is it four?
(Click picture to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa

"Sleepy turtles never catch up with the sunrise." ~ Jamaican Proverb

Life is busy, going at breakneck speed... no time to slow down, stop or rest for most of us; but not the turtle. Collecting "stuff", most of which we don't need or use until it becomes overwhelming is a problem most of us face at some time in life; but not the turtle, he carries his possessions on his back. Sleeping in the sunshine, a recipe for disaster with most of us; but not the turtle.

Turtles know the value of pulling back, retreating into a safe place to ponder the next move. Still to get to the next pond or log or simply to the other side of the road... they have to stick their necks out. They are not afflicted with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, jumping here and there.. they plod along, proving the geometric premise, "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line." They know the value of fifteen minutes in the sun each day. We could learn a lesson or two from the turtle... hey, is there room for me on that log?

Watery Wednesday keeps us cool this summer so visit and enjoy!

(end of post)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Forever Thine

Ruby red dahlia (bicolor)
(Click to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa

"To analyze the charms of flowers is like dissecting music; it is one of those things which it is far better to enjoy than to attempt to understand."
~ Henry Theodore Tuckerman

There are so many different varieties of dahlia, different sizes, different petal shapes, different numbers of petals, different colors and blends of colors. This one is newly added to our flowerbed this spring and I picked it because of its deep dark red petals and the bicolor white petals that really stand out. The small white petals edged with red paint blend into the central splash of yellow. Dahlias are thought to be associated with dignity, elegance and declares to the beholder "I am forever thine." They are easy to grow... they have to be in our flowerbed. Here we can leave the bulbs in the ground for the winter, but further north they need to be removed and kept in a cool dry place until spring.

This dahlia shouts...romance and is a perfect entry for Ruby Tuesday.

(end of post)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

SPF: Pink Is White Trying To Be Red

Top & bottom.. Left: Azaleas.. Right: Kawanza cherry tree
(Click pictures to enlarge)

"Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with its many chords. The artist is the hand that, by touching this or that key, sets the soul vibrating automatically." ~ Wassily Kandinsky

Spring in the south wouldn't be spring without azaleas. In Mississippi, the first of April brings "The Pilgrimage", a two week tour of antebellum homes, replete with period costumes and history lessons. It is the most beautiful time of the year... the pink and white dogwood are in full bloom, daffodils, wisteria, and of course, the azaleas. Many are huge, thriving in the acid soil under the pine trees and lining the long winding driveways that lead to the large tour homes. We have them here in Virginia as well, but they seem to be more at home in the deep South.

Cotton candy striped tulips, pink tulips
and butterfly favorites, names unknown.

"Flowers have a mysterious and subtle influence upon the feelings, not unlike some strains of music. They relax the tenseness of the mind. They dissolve its vigor." ~ Henry Ward Beecher

The tulip garden was particularly nice this spring. I was struck by the pink and white variety... one petal was a bright cotton candy pink, the next a pure white. They looked good enough to eat... you could almost taste that pink bubblegum flavor. Two of the plants I have no name for... the star shaped flowers grace the butterfly garden, providing nectar and may be a form of milkweed. I thought the pinks were beautiful, differences in shade and textures... so many variations on the theme.


"Slow buds the pink dawn like a rose
From out night's gray and cloudy sheath;
Softly and still it grows and grows,
Petal by petal, leaf by leaf."
~ Susan Coolidge, The Morning Comes Before the Sun

"In the pink light the small red sun goes rolling, rolling, round and round and round at the same height in perpetual sunset." ~ Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

Sunrise at the oceanfront is an experience... to be there when the first pinks appear on the horizon, before the crowds and the lounge chairs are out.. just you and a lone seagull. The ocean breeze is always cooler than that inland and you sit on the warm sand with the sounds of the waves and you wait.. wait for that bright yellow disc to break through the water and reach for the sky. Even the surface of the ocean develops a pink hue during the process and at that point in time.. earth and sky become as one.

Sunsets are also often tapped with shades of pink reflecting off fluffy clouds... but sunsets show deep, rich, jeweled color palettes while the sunrise deals in the pastels.

Not your ordinary fire hydrantPosted by Picasa

"I am the very pink of courtesy." ~ William Shakespeare

For fun, I threw in this poor fire hydrant. I think it must be embarrassed to have been painted such a bright "Pepto Bismol" pink hue... and then to be accented with that blazing blue. The other hydrants around town are drab metallic gray or bright yellow or even red... but pink and blue? Oh, the shame!

Pretty In Pink..My Mom...1934

Finally, I've added this picture of my mom taken around her sixth birthday. I love these old colorized photos and I am even old enough to have been the subject of a couple of these types as a baby. The monochrome photos were painted or stained with just touches of color.. in the clothes, the hair, the eyes and such. Here she is all dressed in pink with just a blush to her cheeks. This mother and grandmother will celebrate her 81st birthday in September... and she still wears pink... bold, hot pink!

Tennessee Chick graciously hosts Saturday Photo Hunt each week... and this week's theme is "pink".

(end of post)