Monday, June 29, 2009

Stars Of The Earth

Fuschia...royal purple and ruby red.
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"What a desolate place would be a world without a flower! It would be a face without a smile, a feast without a welcome. Are not flowers the stars of the earth, and are not our stars the flowers of the heaven." ~ A.J. Balfour

I go to White's Nursery once in a while.. it is close to home and they have a wonderful selection of plants for the yard and for the home. When I saw this fuschia plant it immediately reminded me of something... a group... an organization with chapters all over the US... individuals who meet regularly and dress in bright colors with opulent accessories and adornments. They have a great time together and never fail to cheer others around them. So, who do these flowers remind me of? The Red Hat Ladies... of course! They are red and purple and beautiful!

Work of the Poet hosts Ruby Tuesday each week. Go visit!

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Sunshine For The Ground

A mellow yellow macro daisy...
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"Bright flowers, whose home is everywhere
Bold in maternal nature's care
And all the long year through the heir
Of joy and sorrow,
Methinks that there abides in thee
Some concord with humanity,
Given to no other flower I see
The forest through."
~ William Wordsworth, To the Daisy

It was cloudy with a nice breeze when I left for the botanical garden yesterday. Then, the sun came out and the humidity headed back up and the breeze died down... so I took shelter in the shade of the small gazebo at the edge of the wildflower and butterfly garden. There were lovely coneflowers and yarrow with many butterfly bushes of various sizes and colors and there were daisies. Most were the classic white petal with buttery domed centers.. but a few were what I like to call "designer daisies"; with petals in bright shades of pink, orange, gold and red. Of these... this is my favorite, with more subtle color shades of lavender to yellow in the petals and with the vivid crown of golden grains in the center. I have no idea of the name of this variety... but in the end... it is only what the beholder feels when he or she gazes at this beauty that matters in the long run... what do you feel when you see daisies?

Posted today for Mellow Yellow Monday and Macro Monday. (Yes, late yet again!)

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Place To Play And Pray

A place to play and sunlight and shadow.
Norfolk Botanical Garden.. Colonial Garden
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"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." ~ John Muir

It is cloudy and warm but with a north breeze... so the heat index is not prohibitive. Now, if that radar will just cooperate, I will be off to the botanical garden for the afternoon. A perfect "light" day for the new butterfly garden. Perhaps a visit to this venue too. The Colonial garden has a quiet stream that wanders by with herbs, flowers and bushes that were found in Colonial Virginia. The paths here are covered with white broken shells, just like those in private gardens of Williamsburg. A white gazebo with comfortable benches affords a place to read, relax, contemplate and rest. On the day I took this picture, the sunshine behind the garden threw long shadows over the gazebo and lawn. Come and join me.

An entry for Scenic Sunday and Shadow Shot Sunday.

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Scenic Sunday

Saturday, June 27, 2009

SPH: When Flags Fly

Helpful flags... Clockwise from top: Hurricane warning flags,
emergency clinic flag, "we are open" flag.
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"There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum." ~ Arthur C. Clarke

Helpful flags keep us safe during the storm, lead us to a place where our physical ills can be treated and let us know when our favorite restaurant is open. These flags serve a specific purpose in everyday life.

Colorful and festive flags....
(Clockwise from top right): Children's garden at Norfolk Botanical Garden, traveling
carnival flags, knights in shining armor flags at Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

"Colors answer feeling in man; shapes answer thought; and motion answers will." ~ John Sterling

Some flags show us a good time... leading the way to carnival rides and cotton candy, marking the entrance to the children's area of a botanical garden where kids can touch and smell and dig and play to their heart's content and guiding us to days gone by when handsome and brave knights rescued damsels in distress. These flags lend color to our lives and stir memories of childhood past.

Old Glory Posted by Picasa

"When Freedom from her mountain height
Unfurled her standard to the air,
She tore the azure robe of night,
And set the stars of glory there."
~ Joseph Rodman Drake,
The Croakers--The American Flag

As we close in on Independence Day, this flag is foremost in my mind; Old Glory, The Stars and Stripes... our flag that has always and will hopefully always stand for freedom. Our freedom was hard fought and should be cherished and guarded at all cost. This flag still brings a tear to my eye when it is carried with honor in a parade or raised high above a stadium or when folded tight, is given to a grieving widow and family. It talks to me of sacrifice and the hope of a better future. This flag does not belong to the Federal Government... this flag is yours and mine and our children's... this flag belongs to ...WE, THE PEOPLE!

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

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Partly Cloudy...A Dusky Flight

Virginia sky at dusk.
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"The sky is that beautiful old parchment in which the sun and the moon keep their diary." ~ Alfred Kreymborg, Old Manuscript

These are the clouds most people love... those fluffy whipped cream clouds that catch the rays of a setting sun and splatter them all over the earth in shades of red and yellow and purple. These clouds would never send shooting daggers of lightning or echo with rolling thunder... no, they are pleasant little clouds.. shading us during the day and frolicking across the sky at night. It hasn't rained for four days now... the construction guys love it this way.. still, we could use a few more of the gray clouds with rain... especially since the windows are in the new addition. Until then... these soft sunsets are beautiful and look.... a large bird soars up with the air drafts.. perhaps a hawk or an eagle... perhaps.

This shot is for SkyWatch Friday and Carmi's theme for the week is "cloudy".

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Free Floating

Water lily pad catching the rain. Norfolk Botanical Garden
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"A life all turbulence and noise may seem
To him that leads it wise and to be praised,
But wisdom is a pearl with most success
Sought in still waters."
~ William Cowper, The Task

I have been saving this picture for the right moment and now the moment is here. The botanical garden here has a beautiful oriental garden section with rounded boulders and rock gardens, many flaming Japanese maple trees, bonsai, oriental evergreens and a beautiful koi pool with small flowing waterfall. Across the pool are strategically placed stepping stones that visitors may walk on, single file, although there is a path around the pool for any who have balance issues. On one visit in early spring I stood looking into this pool. The leaves on many of the trees had not yet emerged from their winter's rest and the lush green grasses that return each spring were absent. But here in the dark pool of water, floated a single leaf of the water lily, looking a bit anemic without its summer blush of green chlorophyll... but floating none the less. It had been raining as it does here in spring, and the lily "pad" collected the raindrops, consolidating many into few and now, almost reaching the tipping point where the weight of the water breaks the resistance of the leaf and the pooled drops roll back into the pond. Then the sun broke through the clouds and the water sparkled like diamonds. It was then when I saw the small details of the lily leaf... there.. under the magnifying glass of the water droplets... clear and beautiful. Forgetting that I was on a narrow walk of stones I pointed my camera straight down and clicked.

On a cool wet day, this moment brought warmth and smiles and a general feeling of well-being and gratitude. All we needed was a little green frog.

Watery Wednesday entries are up and this is mine for the week.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Site Under Construction

The back site central.
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"The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists." ~ Charles Dickens

This week for Ruby Tuesday I had the perfect touch of red... or rather a huge heavy weight blast of red... and it is sitting in the street next to our house. A construction dumpster...why?... because we are in the middle of a construction project. I haven't posted about it yet, but I have taken a gazillion pictures and posted them for my brother and a few friends and family to look at. You see.. this is my brother's house and his project... only he lives most of the time in Europe and sings there... an opera singer... Helden tenor. Currently he is in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa in a production of Tannhauser; he is in the title role.

Anyway, one of the very first things to show up was this dumpster... a bright red construction dumpster. All the trash from wood to boxes and concrete block fragments go here. They said it would be moved to the area inside the fence, but as yet... it still remains in the street. We also have a portable potty... but it isn't red... just a drab olive green.. a little weird to see one sitting in your yard but better than facing the swamp snakes in the preserve. More than likely it is one of those city regulations for a construction site.

Perhaps as it goes along, I might come up with more pictures... but for now... just the red dumpster...and a side dish of red door at the house across the street. Happy Ruby Tuesday!!!

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Keeping Me Guessing

Columbine bud...keeping me guessing.
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"Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar."
~ William Wordsworth, 1798

Usually I try not to mix too many different memes into one post, but I have quite a bit to do today and if I can squeeze it in, I would love to visit the new butterfly outdoor garden and the indoor butterfly house at our botanical garden here in Norfolk. So, for my Mellow Yellow entry I have this beautiful yellow and white columbine that I just cannot get away from. What is it about this flower that intrigues me so? I haven't yet decided, but it grabs my attention, whether at the local nursery, in my cousin's yard, at the highly groomed and polished botanical gardens or in my own flowerbed. Its angles and curves never fail to surprise and it has that amazing shape that morphs constantly. Some flowers are plain and boring before they open and broadcast their beauty for only a short time, then wilt and die. Columbine, on the other hand, teases the spectator before blooming with its lovely green bud.. and throughout the process.. never gives the full hint of the final product. Columbine keeps you guessing!

..Until the final reveal, yellow and white columbine.

"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 fully understand." ~ Henry T. Tuckerman

But the final reveal is definitely worth the wait!

Plumbago auriculata,leadwort or skyflower.
Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
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"In the hope of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet." ~ Albert Schweitzer

I understand that these are best grown in Florida and perhaps that is why they flourished in the hot houses of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. It is probably not feasible to yearn for these blooms here in Virginia... but we can hope. I am looking for a lovely vine to train up over a trellis that will attach to the new sunroom addition. My dream is to have wisteria for spring, but also to incorporate something that will give us color for the summer months as well. Who knows? My research is not yet complete.. nor is construction....I can only dream at this point.

So, for Mellow Yellow and Blue Monday as well as Macro Monday... enjoy!

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Place In The Sun

Petal shadows, tulip. Norfolk Botanical Gardens.
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"Oh, what subtle shadows are created as the light picks and chooses which petals deserve their place in the sun!" ~ Susan McKinnon Rasmussen

Shadows are often annoying to photographers. Everyone who has ever tried to take a picture in bright full sun has fought with shadows on faces from prominent foreheads or large noses and who hasn't tried to get a macro shot and have their shadow fall across the subject, no matter what contortionist position they try to get in. It is a fact that colors are more true to life on days that are cloudy with even, subdued light. Still, sometimes, the bright light shines just so and creates the perfect shadow as it passes through the does indeed pick and choose which petal deserves its place in the sun.

Go over and visit more "shadows" at Shadow Shot Sunday.... and Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

SPH: Creamy Comforts

Clockwise from left: Creamy pumpkin bisque, Coldstone Creamery
raspberry sherbet and creme brulee coffee with cream..yum.
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"The friendly cow, all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple tart."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894),
The Cow, A Child's Garden of Verses

The word "creamy" invokes a feeling of comfort and that leads directly to food... comfort food like macaroni and cheese, lobster bisque, creamed corn, creamy oatmeal... and these. A few years ago I grew pumpkins in our the old house and things got out of hand but we did harvest several large fairytale pumpkins and in addition to traditional pumpkin pies we made a pumpkin bisque. It was spicy and served hot, a tasty treat. The recipe as well as the links to our pumpkin growing saga are posted HERE. Another comfort food that I love are sherbets or sorbets; I actually like them better than ice cream as they are smooth and fruity and less heavy. True they don't give you the buzz of true Italian chocolate gelato, but they will most certainly qualify as my comfort food.

And how could I leave out my creamy coffee. My brother accuses me of having more cream than coffee in my morning or noon or evening cup. It may be true. I never liked coffee, never even started drinking coffee until 2001 and then only because I found a small coffee shop in Columbus, MS called The Coffee Plantation and they served the flavored coffee of the day and I fell right in love with the creme brulee flavor. The last time I went back to Columbus, the coffee shop was closed and turned into some small trendy (as trendy as a small southern town gets) boutique... what a loss. I still find my flavored beans online and savor that smooth taste each day... as my brother would say... "Coffee is the nectar of the gods."

Clockwise from top: Daisies...she loves me, she loves me not;
Easter lily's creamy complexion; pale, perfect orchid.

"The cream of the crop" ~ Proverb

Of course, there are other "creamy" items that have nothing to do with food. Creamy is not quite white, not quite beige, not completely a color and not always a texture. It doesn't suggest things that are gritty, chunky, hard, crisp or rough... but it does make one picture smooth baby cheeks, swirling opaque eddies of freshly gathered milk and here, the soft, slightly off-white petals of often forgotten flowers. I think that in this case.. "creamy" denotes both color and texture and if you really stretch your imagination... a faint sweet scent, as well. Go on.. stick your face right into a bunch of Easter lilies and breath deeply... well, not if you have allergies and not if you care about that stubborn pollen that is now firmly entrenched on your nose... but drink in that "creamy" smell.

Swirls of cream... gardenias

"If time were a color, I bet it would be a tasteful off-white." ~ Greg Parrish

For me, the creamiest of all "creamy" flowers is the gardenia. Our neighbor at the old place grew small gardenia bushes outside his back fence and in the summer their dark green leaves and small creamy antique white flowers were so fragrant that even my formaldehyde burned olfactory endings could smell the sweetness. These aren't the large florist gardenias like the ones I had in my wedding bouquet so long ago, but they maintain the same color, shape and most of all that thick heady fragrance of the classic gardenia.

When we moved, he offered us several small bushes that he was starting in his garage and now they are growing in both our front flower bed and outside the back fence next to the preserve. Already we have seen a few small creamy blooms and eagerly await more in the years to come.

Creamy lavender sherbet rose. Posted by Picasa

"Life is like a rose . . .
More exquisite and precious,
When shared with others."
~ Jane Oechsle Lauer

Finally, this "creamy" rose is for my brother. He hasn't seen it bloom in person yet but it is the most unusual color and most difficult to capture on film or in words. It is lavender in color, perhaps with a touch of pale pink but there is a creamy milkiness to the petals as if they were a pale boysenberry sherbet, pastel and icy with almost a shimmer on the outer surface of each one. I have forgotten the variety name but it is my favorite of the roses we have.

I am anxious to see all the "creamy" entries for this weeks Photo Hunt... I do hope there are not too many of the food variety... food pictures make me hungry and tend to put the pounds on me.. just by looking at them.... my mom, however, would welcome any posted recipes for this theme. She loves cream soups!

Thanks to Tennessee Chick for hosting the Photo Hunt each week.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Once Upon A Time.....

Little girls used to wear dresses to school.
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"I cannot pretend to be impartial about the colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns." ~ Winston Churchill

Once upon a time, little girls wore dresses.. at play, to church and even to school. I learned to sew when I was a sophomore in high school. Even though we had to take home economics in junior high and I had sewed the obligatory blouse in seventh grade and the skirt in eight grade.. I didn't really learn to sew until high school. That summer I was at my grandmother's house in Roanoke, VA and I was bored. So she took me to the fabric store and helped me pick out a simple a-line dress pattern and some simple cotton material. Then she cut me loose. I cut it out and sewed it up on her machine and amazingly it fit and looked really nice. So we got some more material, just a little more expensive.. and I made another one.. changing up the front tab and the sleeves. All in all I think I made at least seven or eight dresses from the same pattern.

When Nyssa was born, I made a few little dresses and short sets and then sweat suits. We moved to Mississippi and still made a lot of her clothes but wanted to branch out. There I took a course in smocking.. both geometric design and picture smocking. With smocking you can take a simply yoke patterned dress pattern and make hundreds of different styles by changing the material, the smocking pattern, the sleeves and the collars. Little girls outgrow their love for smocked dresses... all too soon for my thinking.

In the jungle the mighty jungle...the lion sleeps tonight. Posted by Picasa

This was one of my favorites... I love all the mixtures of colors with the animals and it seemed perfect for smocking the lion and lioness... as they are the king and queen of the jungle. I try to always use a good cotton, preferably one made by the Hoffman company, as they are consistently colorfast and don't fade when washed as cheep cottons from others do. This dress must have been washed at least forty or fifty times and no fading. Smocking is wonderfully relaxing.. you have to shut out the worries of the day and focus on your stitches. It always amazed me to see the scene start taking shape on the cloth under my needle. The greatest reward was seeing Nyssa put the dress on for the first time and look at herself in the mirror... hearing the words, "Oh, MOM! It is so-o-o-o beautiful! I love it so much! Thank you so-o-o-o much! Can I wear it to school tomorrow?" What mom wouldn't smock her fingers to the bone to hear those words?

This is posted for a very "colorful carnival" this weekend.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Ragdolls Return

Sir Nicholas Alexander (Nicky)
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"Cats conspire to keep us at arm's length." ~ Frank Perkins

Nicky and Willow don't like the dog... Daisy loves them and she would love to play and romp and sit with them.. but all they do is hiss and spit at her. They feel that Daisy, as well as all humans are beneath them... servants. We humans are here to feed them, scoop the litter boxes, provide soft beds, fresh water and toys, and to offer up our laps and our feet as often as they deem necessary. The moment we fall down on the job, even for just a moment... they are there with voices full of complaint ... whining about how horrible it is. Never mind that these Ragdolls weigh almost twice as much as the Siamese and could stand at least one less meal a day.

These two are brother and sister... while Willow is very regal... although it is sort of a waddling type of regal... Nicky is the quintessential "scaredy cat". Nicky is afraid of everything... a true agoraphobic. Some days he seems afraid of his own shadow and yet, other days he is surprisingly bold, willing to take on his sister in a fist fight or fist slap as it is with cats. True, he seldom wins but he tries.

Lady Wilhelmenia Abigail (Willow) Posted by Picasa

Willow is still up to her old tricks... red pipe cleaners and toy mice... dip them in the water then dump them in the food bowls. So not much has changed... they are now considered elderly... they just had their 11th birthday last fall. But they are still as spry and active as ever... well, at least they are as active as they ever were... so they are not athletes... couch potatoes need love too!

Nicky and Willow both will be visiting Friday's Ark and the Carnival of the Cats hosted by Catsynth this weekend and might pop on over to Camera Critters too... they've been complaining that I don't let them get out much to socialize anymore.

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Camera Critters

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Solitude And The Green Cloak

Friendship Pond... Norfolk Botanical Gardens.
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"Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises." ~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Water brings life to the trees and grass and flowers and they in turn take our gaseous least the carbon dioxide we breath out.... and turn it into usable food and give us oxygen in return. We have been blessed here this spring and early summer with rain... sometimes a bit too much at once, but most often the soft gentle rain that is so beneficial. Everything is green... at night the chorus of frogs sing echoing refrains at each other across the preserves, the gardens and the ponds. When I sit here surrounded on all sides, even above... with the lush greens of early summer, how can I help but feel relaxed and renewed. This is perfect on a cloudy day when few visitors are in the gardens or have sought out the exploding color of the roses or the new butterfly pavilion... it is then that this picture of solitude beckons me.

Carmi's weekly theme for this evening is "green" and Watery Wednesday is up too.

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