Archive for June, 2011

Photohunt: Cards

I like to make cards.   With the advent of the internet and email, hand made cards sent by snail mail seem to be an anachronism.   Still, I like making them and sending them.   I think people like getting them, too.


See other Photohunters here.


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I was sitting quietly in my easy chair filling in the crossword puzzle and watching Mallory exercise a paper ball when the kitchen window suddenly became effused with the most electrifying gold glow.   At the same time, the distant growl of thunder penetrated through the house.   I ran to the desk and grabbed my camera and went out there.

This is what I saw, which immediately suggested that I ought to participate in Skywatch Friday today.  While I was taking these shots, occasional bolts of lighting spiked through from cloud to cloud.  You can see where the early rays of the dawning sun are trying to make a rainbow.

We were right at the spot where the cold front slid under the warm front, and the clouds blossomed into amazing forms right before my eyes.

Those images were taken only seconds apart.  The sun was just coming up, so the side lighting of the blossoming thunderstorm makes an amazing image.   The dark cloud on the left is the lower atmosphere.

The light was amazing.   The cleomes seemed to glow in the rays being reflected from those clouds.

Yes, I was running around the yard barefoot.   For a moment, I became entranced by the work area in the back yard.  Jim has an ongoing project that he works on when he isn’t making pizza, schlepping boxes of produce around the produce department of the Commissary, mowing the lawn, or whatever else.   There is a faucet on the north side of the house that has never worked right, and has been fixed from dripping twice and now drips once again.  We have decided that what it really needs is to be capped off.  So, a new water line is being cut in from the line out to the vegetable garden so a new freeze-proof faucet will be located close to the stroll garden where it is needed.

I feel like this image is actually a portrait of Jim on many levels.   For example, the reason it is being dug by hand is that the ditch witch that is available for hire from the local equipment rental is too big for the job and costs too much.   So he stubbornly decided to save some large quantity of money by digging the ditch by hand.   But, look at the amazing symmetry and beauty of the whole thing, lining up with the hole in the fence where the new faucet will be.

It has taken much longer than he wanted it to, because there have been quite a number of things we had to accomplish in the betwixtwhiles, namely and to wit getting the rental house ready for occupancy, and we have been blessed by scattered rain during the course of events.  It is pretty hard to work on the ditch when it is full of water.   By the way, the storm we experienced this morning has left it full of water once again, which means that the fact that he is exhausted from a full days work at the commissary and doesn’t want to dig ditch tonight won’t make him feel guilty (hopefully).

The vegetable garden communicated a need to me this morning.   The garlic needs to be harvested, and I need to see what is going on in the potato patch.

I turned just slightly right from the view of the ditch, and found myself focusing on the view that gives me “uncompleted work” angst:   the pond.

Yes, there is a pond back in there, Ruby is drinking from it.   I really need to beat back that forsythia bush.   I need to do a lot of things.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes in that picture.   While I was shooting this whole photo essay, there were two pairs of wrens mustering their sundry troops of fledglings.   Imagine as you read this blog post that what you hear is the constant muttering of thunder and high winds aloft punctuated by the screechings of robins, blue jays, grackles and finches accompanied by the rapid fire of orders being hurled by the frustrated wren parents at their rather distracted younguns.  Here they are in the Stroll Garden, near The Bench.   The chick is perched on top of the drift wood piece, the parent can be spotted in the upper right corner, perched on the crepe myrtle, staring straight at the camera:  “What are you doing!”

While I was beguiled by all this miscellany, the storm continued to develop.   Quite a nice rotation developed up there in this cloud.   Glad there isn’t more energy in this system or we could be having our own little tornado here at The Havens.

Meanwhile, the light was amazing, and the day lilies garden and the rain garden were putting on quite a show.     Remember all this photography was accompanied by constant thunder and wren chat.

Meanwhile, the sun continued to rise, illuminating the developing storm that was coming from the north and west.

Then it proceeded to rain, monsoon like deluges.   There was hail; fortunately it was all pea sized or smaller and there wasn’t much of it.  Nor were there damaging winds.

I came back in to make a post, bake bread, and play with Mallory while I waited for the rain to be over.   There are quite a number of things on my list today:    dig the garlic that I mentioned previously, make pesto (which involves harvesting the first cutting of basil which you can see at the front of the whiskey barrels in the above shot), prune the crepe myrtles, and start trying to eradicate the lemon balm which has decided that it needs to completely own the garden behind the sauna.

It is nearly ten in the morning, and the storm line has finally moved through.   The timer will be going off on the bread baking, and soon I’ll be off to work once again, thankful that it will not be in the rental house now that the carpets are clean, the walls washed, the new vinyl flooring installed, the ceiling mended, washed and patched, and the only thing left to do is put in the quarter round moulding in the family room and varnish it.

If you are wondering why I don’t post more often, the above paragraph ought to give you a clue.   Some times I feel just exactly like Sysiphus, rolling my stone up the hill only to discover in the morning that it is back at the bottom.  At least it is usually a different stone each day.  Good luck with all your Sysiphian tasks, all of you!

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Evening at The Havens

Just a few shots from  today.   I weeded, and I massaged, and I planted flowers,   And I watered because it didn’t rain for us.

My lilies are looking splendid.   This is in front of my bedroom window.

There was a fabulous sunset tonight, courtesy of the smoke from the fires in Arizona.

Mallory fell asleep in my hands today, and Zoey took a picture of us.

I have to go to bed because tomorrow we are going to pick blueberries before we start cleaning the ceiling of the house across the street.  I was going to paint before they got the vinyl flooring down, but now that we have decided to spend an extra night in Kansas City, I’m afraid the painting might not get finished.  But I can be a very neat painter and not spill on the new floor if it works out that way.






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This image was copied from the Astonomy Picture of the Day on NASA’s site, published October 1, 2006.  Click on the image for the full impact.See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
the highest resolution version available.

Credit: C. Mayhew & R. Simmon (NASA/GSFC), NOAA/NGDCDMSP Digital Archive

With all the talk about global climate change, I wonder why no one has suggested that possibly it might be a good idea to cut back on some of the night lighting that we throw around all over the place.   I realize that illuminating landmarks and architecture such as the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, various and sundry cathedrals all over Europe creates wonderful night time vistas of great beauty.

But I wonder if we really can afford to burn so much fossil fuel?   Especially since the vast majority of people are actually sleeping at night.   Perhaps if we wanted to see the illumination, we should have to put our credit cards through the slot to pay for it.   Then we might have some sort of concept about how much it costs.

Anyway, Our Fair City here in Lebanon has a giant flag pole with a giant flag that was recently installed out by the interstate, and I’m darn sure that illuminating it all night is not adding to the beauty of the night.  Yes, yes, flag display protocol dictates that it be illuminated, but when the winds have torn the flag apart and the pole stands empty, the searchlights shine on regardless.  And what about  all those ridiculous rotating search lights that the McDonald’s corporation has mandated be installed on the top of their stupid fast food joint franchises (I REFUSE to call them restaurants). They shine all night to give the lost and lonely travelers upon the Interstate Highway system hope that their desperate quest for french fries and fried pies can be satisfied at the next available exit.

Our species is so stupid sometimes.

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With the expert help of my IT guy Jim, I was able to view and edit some video I took this morning.   This is about where Ruby and Mallory have gotten in their play partnership.   Ruby is no longer just “playground equipment”, but an active participant in the games, which are still in the process of development.

Disclaimer:   No dogs or kittens were injured during the production of this video.

Ruby and Mallory Play

We sleep together too, which is fine with Ruby until Mallory wakes up and starts “messing” with her.  I guess it tickles too much, and she usually grumbles and moves.

In other cuteness news, I finally was able to capture a shot of one of the baby praying mantises that hatched out a couple of weeks ago.   This little guy is less than 3mm long.

He didn’t stay still for long, either; totally disapproving of having the large black eye pointed at him.






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I shall not be typing a lot on this post as I have had an industrial accident whilst deadheading the candytuft.   Apparently the garden gods and goddesses felt the need for a blood sacrifice and it took the form of pruning my left pinkie.   I now sport a slash that goes right throughmy finger from top to bottom approximately half a centimeter long right next to the nail but not involving it, which is now wrapped up and protected from bumping, which I kept doing all day yesterday.   Anyway, it seems to be healing well, but the bandage has severely hampered my usual typing facility.

The interacion with Ruby and Mallory is still going on.   They have inveneted a couple of games, one is a tag game which would only be cute if there was video.  The other game is “Kill the Tail on the Doggy”  which goes a lot like this.   Sorry for the poor quality of the photos, but the animals are distracted by the flash and stop what they are doing if it goes off.

I did indeed get a new garden swing for my birthday.  It required assemblage, and since I was hors de combat, our lovely young niece helped Jim do the job.   Of course, like a proper Virgo, he had everything laid out neatly in preparation for the job.

The team at work, gesturing appropriately as models should do.

A different gesture was made when the problem below was discovered.

Oopsy, the arms are on upside down.  That seat wouldn’t be that comfortable for long.  After rectification. . .

Ummm there was another problem too.   The final bolt tightening exemplified why cheap stuff from China is sometimes a trial and tribulation.   One of the bolts sheared off before it was tight.   So, the old bolt had to be drilled out of the hole, and an extra trip to the hardware store made to acquire a nut and bolt that would go through the whole shebang.

The instructions and the package claim that all tools necessary for assembly are included in the package.  All of them except the carbide drill, the drill driver and the clamp made necessary by the poor quality hardware.

Ruby thought the whole process was boring in the extreme, but at least no one was killing her tail.

The jumping spider who lives in the plant light area was over getting a drink in the kitchen sink the other day, and I almost drowned her before I realized what was going on down there.   She left in a huff.

Out in the asparagus patch, there is a very young argiope that has set up housekeeping.   This spider is about 3mm long.  She had successfully caught an asparagus beetle that was larger than she was.

On the pond, a fishing spider.   This one is cool because when you disturb her she dives under the lily pad, taking a bubble of air with her trapped in the hairs of her abdomen that she can breathe from for 20 minutes or so.

Well, my folks are coming to dinner along with my little sister to continue celebrating my birthday.   So I believe I shall take my finger away from the keyboard and give the dog a short walk.

I am amazed how much the left hand problem has affected my right hand typing.   Weird.

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It is my birthday today, I will be 58 officially shortly after dinner time.

The day began quite early, as it is a work day for Jim, so we got up at our usual pre-dawn arousal time of 4:30 a.m.   After we had a bit of coffee, and before he left for work, he took me out to present my birthday present to me.  It wasn’t really a surprise, since he asked me what I wanted and he has a tendency to get exactly what I ask for.   It is a new garden swing, to replace the one he got me about 10 years ago, which the squirrels have been mining for polyester batting with which to insulate their nests.

He gave it to me that early because it was in the bed of the truck, and he knew that I was going to be taking Ruby for her walk very early on in the day, and he wanted to see my pleasure.   When he gets home from work, we’ll probably set it up.

I did go off to walk the dog, it was a pleasantly cool morning with a nice breeze, so the mosquitoes weren’t too bad.   Sunrise was not particularly colorful, but the presence of storms in the area made the light very interesting.

Came across a box turtle making her way into the meadow for her breakfast.   I could swear she was telling me “Happy birthday.”

So we had a lovely walk, and returned to the house to find that there was a fanfare of lilies out in front.

Not to be outdone, the Little Mouse Ears hostas in back were also trumpeting a welcome to the dawn.

A passing monarch butterfly stopped for a portrait.   She continued on over to the milkweed patch in the Petite Prairie for breakfast.

The echinacea around the place are looking quite splendid today.   I think they enjoyed the artificial rain they got yesterday.

I have to get out there and provide a similar service for the vegetable garden today, before we head off to the birthday party.   It isn’t for me, it is for a good friend of ours who shares a birthday with me (and my cousin, for that matter!).   He will be 60 today, and I’m sure he will be receiving some very silly gifts from our friends.  I intend to give him a very cool fossil, which is something he will like a lot but will also carry a “message” of sorts!

Thanks for stopping by today, hope your day is as good as mine is sure to be.

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