Saturday, September 30, 2006

Lifetime of Love

A lifetime of love. Macro shot of porcelain figurine.
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"On the days that are summer sweet and full of a thousand dreams, I will love you.
On the days when thunder and rain come dashing against our hopes, I will love you.
On the days when we share a quiet world of contentment, I will love you.
On all the days, through all the seasons of our lives,
I will give you my heart . . .
I will give you my love."
~ Unknown
The faces are those of children, yet the gray is seen in their hair. Dressed in the wedding finery from times past, they share a kiss. Their love of a lifetime; still young in their hearts, still young in their minds.

This was a small 50th anniversary figurine used in my parent's 50th celebration.
Submission to MacroDay for topic "love". (end of post)

Fairytale Part 3: Pumpkin Blossom Time

June 24. Look what I see!!
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"We fancy men are individuals; so are pumpkins; but every pumpkin in the field goes through every point of pumpkin history." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
(If you've missed the first two installments, you might want to read them first, here: Chapter 1, Chapter 2.)

As the magic pumpkin patch continued to grow......
.......the lady kept watch. By the end of June she started to see vine spikes growing at right angles to the main vine and at the ends were flame-shaped .... BUDS!!! There were a lot of them and they formed the joints along the vines.

The buds began to blossom just a few at a time and only very early in the morning. June and July are so hot; by ten in the morning the blooms had closed for the day. One week went by and then two; surely we should start seeing little pumpkins soon. The lady became concerned; perhaps they needed more water or food or maybe the seeds won't grow or... Well! The truth was obvious... the lady had no knowledge of how to grow pumpkins, most of the seeds she plants simply don't come up.

July 12. Early morning.

Where does one go to learn how to grow pumpkins? The internet search engines, of course. The lady learned that these large delicate yellow blooms come in two distinct forms ~ male and female. The male flowers on tall stalks begin to blossom two to three weeks before the female flowers appear. Why? So their showy blossoms will attract honey bees, imprinting them with pollen to facilitate the bees return to the flowers, day after day. These big blooms were the male flowers. And look Vicki... fruit flies love these blooms!

Male blossom.

What happens if the bees don't come? Well, the lady found out that she might have to "help" the pumpkins out.... in vitro fertilization of sorts; put the pollen from the male flower in the blossom of the female flower. She sincerely hoped the bees would come, though she hadn't seen any. Perhaps she just hadn't looked early enough in the day.

Then she saw them; yes, the bees had arrived, and look... all the fruit flies have red eyes... dominant trait. The lady was relieved as she had no wish to be a pumpkin fertility doctor.

July 12

So now it is back to waiting. Waiting for the female flowers. Watching as the vines continue their march to.... well, who knows... we only have so much yard to work with! The lady has to be gone for two weeks. Who will water, who will feed, who will keep the vines from going to the neighbor's house? Will the female flowers bloom? Will the bees cross pollinate the pumpkins with the cucumbers in the yard? At least this won't show up in this year's pumpkins... if any grow at all.

Then two days before the lady has to leave on her trip......

July 20. The female flower.

......she spies these small buds on short little stalks. Immediately beneath each bud is a tiny round mini-pumpkin about one half inch in diameter. All the female blossoms have these pumpkin precursors; and if the bees do their job, the flower will be fertilized and the round bulb will grow into a pumpkin. Not every female flower will be fertilized; most will shrivel up and fall to the ground, no one knows which ones will survive at this point.

Will the bees do a good job? Will the pumpkins begin to grow? As she left for her two weeks in New York, all the lady could do was wait and wonder.... and now, so must you......

To be continued... but again, not today....
(end of post)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Angry Arms

Crossed arms often signify anger.
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"It is wise to direct your anger towards problems - not people; to focus your energies on answers - not excuses."
~ William Arthur Ward
Crossed arms signal Nyssa's anger. Mine too. It's probably where she gets this habit. Her anger is usually accompanied by a scowl, tightly pursed lips, squinting eyes and, if any sound comes from the mouth it is an "Oh, Mom" or "I can't believe you..." or "Mother!" This condition can be an almost permanent state of affairs during that period of adolescence from say age 11 to 20, although I've heard it is starting earlier and earlier. These days, mine is in college and I think she's learning that the little things that make her angry are not important. She is learning to save her anger for the big things, for changing them rather than flailing wildly and ineffectually against them.

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

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

Lady Willow. (Click pictures for larger views) Posted by Picasa
"Cats are the ultimate narcissists. You can tell this by all the time they spend on personal grooming. Dogs aren't like this. A dog's idea of personal grooming is to roll in a dead fish." ~ James Gorman
Before a cat eats.... she washes. Before a cat plays with the catnip toy .... he washes. Before meals, before sleeping, before bird-washing.... the cats wash.

Sir Nicky

After exploring under the bed.... a cat washes. After being brushed ..... a cat washes. After being petted .... a cat washes. After a bath .... a cat bathes again.
In fact, before and after almost anything a cat does ..... he(she) washes.......

Miss Scarlett and Mr. Rhett

....... even if it isn't their own neck.

Miss Chloe and Miss Clover

...... and even if it isn't their own ear.

The cats are getting their coats ready to board Friday's Ark and will hopefully stay clean until the Carnival of the Cats, hosted this week by Pet's Garden Blog. (end of post)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The "Grew Some" Tale Continues...

Pumpkin vine leaf. (Click pictures for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Do you want to hear a gruesome story?
A farmer planted a pumpkin seed.
He watered it and cared for it very well,
and soon it grew some, and grew some, and grew some ...."
~ Unknown
In the magic flowerbed....
sixteen little pumpkin plants grew as the lady waited and watched. Soon the tiny cotyledons, the "seed leaves" gave way to the larger, broader, heart-shaped leaf of the pumpkin vine; and soon the vines filled the little flowerbed with no place to go but..........

June 16

...over the side of the landscape timbers and out into the side yard. Here the vine found lush grass and sent out tendrils to wrap around the blades. Soon at each junction of leaf and vine, secondary roots dug deep into the grassy earth, anchoring the vine.

June 18

At first the vines were compact like a lush rounded bush. The lady faithfully watered the plants when the leaves drooped from the heat and fed them with special nutrients in the water spray. Sometimes it seemed as if the vine with leaves and tendrils grew when she turned her back even for a few minutes.

June 25

Then one day, the plants seemed to break free, growing in all directions; a few spread to the west, towards the backyard fence, the tomatoes and the fig tree; others spread towards the east to the front of the house, some in front of the boxwoods and one tenacious vine growing behind the bush with tendrils pushing upward along the brick wall.

July 2

One group of vines headed to the south, across the yard in the direction of the neighbor's house, so the lady gently turned the ends back towards the front yard. Now the man who mowed the yard had to carefully navigate around the still tender plants.

July 7

Who knew that this was still just the beginning of this fairytale? Who knew that "fairytales" could be so gruesome? Who knew things were about to get out of hand with a new twist? Who knew?

The saga will continue.........but not today.
(end of post)

A Starry Night

A light shines in the dark night.
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"From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us." ~ Meister Johann Eckhart (1260 - 1327)
At first glance this might be a full moon on a clear, dark night with stars twinkling in the background; but see the gleam of the lamppost and the "moon" becomes a "lamp". Perhaps the picture of a lighted parkway path, but not in the big city; in a western town where the night stars can overcome the bright lights, where they gleam brightly and seem close enough to touch with my outstretched hand. Or maybe this is a street lamp lighting the deserted parking lot at a mountain top observatory; perhaps that is why the stars are so bright.

This is submitted for the Thursday Challenge topic "light". If you really want to know what this picture is then click "Read More" below; you know you do. Click the one with the arrows.

This picture was taken at the Yankee Candle Company in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was taken in broad daylight, inside. It is a wonderland of shops with a mainstreet from the 1800's; lamppost, street markers, sidewalk cafes and an arched roof with blue skies and wispy clouds. All the separate shopping areas open to this "town square". One shop is set up for Christmas... all year round. There are stuffed penguins, moose and a wooden bridge leading to the North Pole fantasy land. The room is dark, it's ceiling curved and painted black with thousands of these tiny sparks of light shining down as the sky would appear in the arctic. I simply stood under the lamp post and shot upward at an angle. (end of post)

Neon Glow

Fireworks glowing in the night sky. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"There are two kinds of light--the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures." ~ James Thurber
The neon glow of fireworks light up the July summer night with sparkles, fire, spinning wheels, bright percussion blasts of light and sound. This was one of my favorites; simple, like petals of an opening flower in glowing colors of red, orange and yellow. It reminded me of a large neon light glowing on top of a local diner or old time hotel. I can almost hear that rhythmic buzzing of the ballast.

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tummy Tuck

Mr. Rhett snuggles with his sister Miss Scarlett.
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"Fast asleep? IT is no matter.
Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber.
Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies
Which busy care draws in the brains of men;
Therefore thou sleep'st so sound."
~ William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
Mr. Rhett takes a nap with his sister Miss Scarlett; his head tucked in next to her tummy, their front paws intertwined. She allows this, though at times with a look of consternation. I can just see her little white tummy patch. Ah, sweet sleep; would that we could so easily forget our cares and troubles.

Submission for Tummy Tuesday at catstuff.
The cats are resting and getting ready to board Friday's Ark and will visit the Carnival of the Cats, hosted this week by Pet's Garden Blog.
(end of post)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Autumn On Its Way

Autumn 2005. November. Williamsburg, VA.
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"Autumn has caught us in our summer wear."
~ Philip Larkin, British Poet (1922-1986)
"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn."
~ Elizabeth Lawrence
Further north into New England and west into the mountains of Virginia, the leaves are beginning to turn. Here on the coast, Autumn comes in more slowly with temperatures as yet only rarely dipping into the 50's at night. And now a few returning days of summer with temperatures almost to 90. Autumn is a see-saw, up and down; with every dip a few leaves turn and drop, a few more pine needles fall. It takes time for full color to develop. This was the look of last year's Autumn.... a few more weeks away yet, but on its way... this year's. We just have to slow down and wait.

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

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Colour Of Dreams

Althaea officinalis. Marsh mallow. Macro.
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"Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams." ~ Paul Gauguin
Shades of pink; deep and hot, pale and delicate; blended stripes against the bold background. Cool greens in shadow dark, punched with slivers of light as if from within the flower's center. Swirls of color so different, yet together remind me of childhood dreams; of sleeping beauties on soft downy beds strewn with delicate petals; of a white stallion whose hooves stir petals and leaves as it prances; of a prince who awakens her with a kiss; of light and swirls of color as all rejoice. How does color speak to you in your dreams?

Submission to MacroDay topic "colour". (end of post)

The Fairytale Begins

The beginning. (Click all pictures to see larger views) Posted by Picasa
"Every man's life is a fairy-tale written by God's fingers."
~ Hans Christian Andersen
Once upon a time....

There was a pumpkin of the "fairytale" variety. In a farmer's pumpkin patch it grew to weigh 20 pounds. One day in October, a family bought the beautiful pumpkin and took it home, where they made nine delicious pumpkin pies from its fleshy meat. The grown daughter scooped up the seeds, washed them, dried them and saved them wrapped carefully in a paper towel. She placed them in a dark corner of the garage where they rested until the next spring...May, actually.

While she planted two tomato plants in a flowerbed to the side of the house, the lady remembered the seeds. She prepared the soil, added fertilizer and prepared the seeds. Her father said to put four seeds in each of four mounds, as it was not likely that all would survive and grow. So she did. Then she watered and watched and waited until......

One day a small bowed shoot appeared in one mound, then another one and another one. They grew and sprouted two leaves each and suddenly the lady realized that every single seed had sprouted! There in the loose earth, were sixteen small seedling pumpkin plants growing in her magic flowerbed. Then she waited... again.........

(end of current post..... to be continued)

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Eyes of a Child

Nyssa, Age 2. 35mm film shot. 1988. Posted by Picasa
"A daughter is a little girl who grows up to be a friend." ~ Author Unknown
"Sometimes looking deep into the eyes of a child, you are conscious of meeting a glance full of wisdom. The child has known nothing yet but love and beauty. All this piled-up world knowledge you have acquired is unguessed at by her. And yet you meet this wonderful look that tells you in a moment more than all the years of experience have seemed to teach."
~ Hildegarde Hawthorne
How quickly they grow up; yesterday a little girl, today a young woman. How we want to protect them from all the hurts and pain and how futile that desire is. Each girl faces different challenges and yet at the core, they are the same. The best a mother can do is teach by example, love without limit, model strength of character and pray for wisdom; then prepare to be amazed at the woman she becomes.

Submission to PhotoFriday topic "girl". (end of post)

A Body At Rest

Chloe slows things down. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"There is more to life than increasing its speed." ~ Mohandas Gandhi
Chloe is in perfect harmony with her surroundings. The bean bag chair molds to the contour of her sleeping form and the soft faux sheepskin throw cushions her aging bones. Chloe and Clover were born when Nyssa was seven, making them thirteen this summer. I can understand their need to sleep eighteen hours a day.... They're trying to slow down time.

Miss Chloe will likely board Friday's Ark this week, find an out of the way nook and go back to sleep. I hope she wakes in time to see the other cats at the Carnival of the Cats; this week hosted by House of Chaos.

(end of post)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

For The Love Of The Game

Occupation - Coach. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation, which give happiness." ~ Thomas Jefferson
Coaching this team would bring neither wealth nor splendor and I doubt sincerely if it brought him any tranquility. Nyssa's basketball coach at the Math & Science high school had to coach because he loved the game. It certainly wasn't the excitement of winning, they didn't win a game in two years; although they almost won one game her senior year, but lost by two points to Immanuel... Nyssa's school her first two years of high school. I don't think many coaching scouts came to the games... very few parents came to them as most of the students were from other towns all across Mississippi. None of the girls were going to go to Duke or UConn on a basketball scholarship, in fact many of them had never played before. But they did go to Cornell, Yale, Princeton, CalTech, and William & Mary and their class had thirteen National Merit Finalists. It was probably easier for some of the girls to calculate the physics of a jump shot than make one. Yet, this coach always encouraged and never berated. He was gracious in ... well, I was going to say "winning and losing" but we will just have to say he was graceful in losing.

PS: The year after Nyssa graduated, the girls team won two or three games. I think it was the first time in the fifteen year history of the school that the girls team actually won. Oh, well. Everyone can't play in the WNBA! By the way, can you tell which player belongs to me?

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I've Looked At Clouds

Clouds (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
High Flight
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
~ John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922 - 1941)
Rolling, billowy, wispy, threatening, dancing, boiling, powdery, fluffy, feathery, darkening, silver-lined, stormy, mysterious, broken, fleecy, floating, white, gray, black, sweeping, cottony; all descriptions of clouds, each bring a different picture to mind. As children we rested on the sun warmed ground, gazing up at the clouds and looked for faces, animals, mountains, any object we might fantasize. We've watched the storm clouds sweep across the plains of Oklahoma; billowing and dark with swirls and rotations of gray and green, watching the birth of tornadoes. Clouds evoke such a wide range of emotion; fear, dread, awe, delight and wonder. Powerful indeed, these collections of water vapor, these clouds.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Caught In The Act

Maggie Posted by Picasa
"When you are looking, a cat acts like a princess, but the minute they think you are not looking, a cat acts like a fool." ~ KC Buffington
This is Maggie. She belongs to my parents. It was Mom's idea for them to get her, but Maggie loves Dad best. Perhaps it is because he talked "baby talk" to her and called her his "sweet precious little girl" when she was still a kitten. Perhaps it is because he ALWAYS fills her food bowl when there is a tiny little dimple depression in the middle or because he opens the back door for her when she refuses to go through the cat door. My opinion is that she is still angry that Mom pays more attention to my kitty crew, especially that handsome imp, Nicky.

Ragdolls sleep on their backs, tummy up quite often. Maggie, however, keeps hers tucked away, so this was an unusual picture of her. My crew had just been herded to their sleeping quarters in the sunroom and the rest of the house was hers; obviously her favorite time of day.

If you wonder how we tell Willow and Maggie apart; it's in the face. Willow has a delicate more pointed nose, and a look that exudes innocence. Maggie, on the other hand, has the broader face with chipmunk cheeks and a permanent "if looks could kill" expression. This matches her attitude most of the time. If she would just relax a little she could have lots of fun with Nicky. He adores her.

It's Tummy Tuesday at catstuff.
Maggie will likely board Friday's Ark in a snit this week and hide in the corner. I hope she gets over herself in time to see the other cats at the Carnival of the Cats; this week hosted by House of Chaos.
(end of post)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mom's Birthday Bash

Steinhilber's Restaurant. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents ... and only one for birthday presents, you know." ~ Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
Last Thursday was my mom's birthday. Dad and I took her to her favorite restaurant Steinhilber's, where we all had The Original Steiny's Fantail Fried Shrimp, large... no, huge...... no, gigantic shrimp in a light, almost tempura batter. She and Dad had fried oysters for an appetizer and I had the Lobster Bisque. It was fabulous, as always.

She wanted dessert but we talked her out of it. She had too much bread already with the dinner and hasn't been very good about checking her diabetes recently. So we piled back in my van and started back home. But of course Dad and I already had something up our collective sleeves. I dropped him off at a corner in the Town Center area and proceeded to drive around and around and around the block..... over and over. Finally, there he was. Mom kept asking where he was going and I kept telling her she would have to wait and see. As I retrieved my dad, he handed her a box with the words... The Cheesecake Factory.... on the side. She loves cheesecake more than any other sweet, except perhaps chocolate. They make a 6 CARB ORIGINAL CHEESECAKE™ she can actually eat.

The flowers? They arrived early in the day, from her loving son in Europe. She says that he told the florist what to put in the bouquet... yellow roses and sunflowers with some form of flowering greenery in the background....also yellow. I hope it isn't goldenrod or some other thing to make me sneeze. On rare occasions my brother will actually comment here, so here they are Stephen; beautiful job dude and hey, you remembered this year without any prompting! I am impressed!

All in all, it was a good day!

(end of post)