Posts Tagged ‘photography’

I walked the labyrinth this morning.

I’ve been doing that a lot lately; taking new rocks in, mostly.   Several years ago I joined the Labyrinth Society’s 365 Club.   The goal was to walk a labyrinth every day for a year.   I started out strong, but after about a month and a half I stopped doing it.   It seemed that what should have been a meaningful spiritual exercise was becoming rote and routine, and I didn’t really like that result.   So I stopped trying to make the 365 day goal.

Maybe I will try again this year.   I don’t know.

I do know that I have been very inspired by Twylla Alexander’s labyrinth journey.   She made a commitment to walk one labyrinth created by a woman in each of the 50 states.   She recently completed this journey, or at least the first part of it.  The second part is to write a book about it.   Her break in the journey turns out to be a pause to create her own labyrinth.  Many of the women whose labyrinths she walked are going to send her a rock for her labyrinth.

My labyrinth was one of the ones she chose, and her visit was special.   One of the results was to rekindle my relationship with my own labyrinth.   I also decided to refurbish the inner circle.    Today I was taking a couple of new denizens in, and while I was at it I took the rock I had chosen to send her along.   While I was making this pilgrimage, a sort of prose poem came to me.


About Life’s Journey

Sometimes you walk alone; sometimes you have company.   Both ways are good.

Often there is a path for you to follow; but sometimes you have to create your own.   These both are valuable experiences.

Love is all around you; never forget that it is infinite.

When you are looking for answers, leave no stone unturned.


You never know what is hidden on the other side of an interesting but not THAT remarkable rock.


It is good to look at things from more than one angle.



Always try to finish what you start; but be willing to be interrupted for beauty, friends, and rest.   Procrastination is not always a bad thing.


Now, I have procrastinated long enough.   I must go dig my potatoes, and work on establishing order in the rain garden.


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For as far back as I can remember, and by some reports farther back than that, I have been a sucker for growing things.

gardener Ellie

That picture was taken when I was three.   We were planting peas and what I was doing was pulling the soil into the furrow.

The story goes that one fine day when I was closing in on my third birthday, it came nigh on to meal time and my mother put out the dinner call.   Needless to say, my one year old brother was johnny on the spot, having been put into his high chair willy nilly.   My older sister showed up fairly promptly, as did my father.   But there was an unoccupied chair at the table, and the question arose:   “Where is Ellie?”

Another call made from the back porch, and again, no response.   A posse was formed and the search for the miscreant began.   It wasn’t long before the forces of the law discovered the fugitive’s whereabouts.   I was crouched at the edge of the bean patch, delightedly engrossed in the show that was going on there.   Urged by the warm Southern California sun, the bean seeds were emerging from the soil, literally popping from the u-shaped form to erect with their little dicotyledons deployed to catch the rays and begin their job of growing.

My mother reports that I was laughing and cheering each victorious seedling, heedless of hunger or parental calls.  After a suitable celebration, we all went inside to eat.

My fascination has not abated.   I still like to watch the beans unfold.   I like to see the plants in my garden thrive.   Today I went out on a safari through my urban jungle to see what was going on.

The poppies are blooming in the stroll garden.


Personally, I think they bear a closer look.


I proceeded out to the pond to see if I could spy a dragon fly.   They were still asleep, it being quite early in cloudy and cool morning.   The water lilies were not open yet either, but there was a pond denizen in evidence.



Out there is where the pipe vine grows.   I planted it as a food supply for  the pipevine swallowtail, in the fond hope that one would happen upon it and start a colony, but so far they have not shown up.  I may be located too far from their usual habitat.   But I love the vine anyway.   Right now it is covered with little “dutchmen’s pipes”.


You might wonder why I entitled this post “Hosta love” since I haven’t mentioned them yet.   Well, I’m getting there.   Just be patient.

I have quite the collection of hostas.   They are actually fairly trouble free plants, and the huge variety of color and form make them a wonderful thing to fill dark corners.  I started out with just a few varieties in a garden on the north side of the house.  In addition to hostas, this garden contains hellebores, a couple of bleeding hearts and sundry filler plants.

This beauty is located there, and she is the perfect exemplar of what I love about the genus.


Here is a broad shot of the area I call the Hosta Dell, that gives you an idea of what a beautiful garden you can create using hostas as the main focus.


That is where you can find this variety.



And this one too.   It may be the star of the show, but the two Heucheras behind it make a pretty fine back up section.



I am very sorry to report that I have neglected to mark and remember all the varietal names of the hostas I own.   I started out with good intentions, but I was derailed by certain events that I had no control over, namely the blue jays’ penchant for stealing plant tags for nest material.  I always have good intentions of making maps with labeled plant locations, but then I move a plant or one dies and gets replaced (or not), and the mapping falls by the wayside, so to speak.  So I really couldn’t tell you these particular lovlies actual names.   Sorry.

Of course, all is not perfection in the gardens of The Havens.   I have a rose I need to move off the root cellar so that we can cover the area with more dirt in preparation for the solar panel installation.   The garden I wish to transplant the rose into was choked with weeds yesterday.   I have it 80% cleaned out, but the north end of the Hosta Dell is sadly in need of attention too.



I guess I’d better stop procrastinating and get out there and get to work!

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It is hard to believe that the last time I posted here was before Thanksgiving.  I have been on line, too.  But somehow I have been sucked into Facebook and have found myself putting up little blips here and there rather than making a blog post.   I wonder how many other bloggers have been seduced by social media?

Since I posted, it has snowed and thawed several times.   I did get some pretty nifty snow shots during all those events.



We had a real cold snap before Thanksgiving, and the little pond froze with beautiful hoarfrost crystals.


We also had a small ice storm, no big damage although we did have a couple of elm trees that dropped a lot of branches.   The day after the ice covered stuff it was a lovely day and things were already starting to melt.   I took Ruby for a walk and the ice was positively magical.   Everywhere I looked the woods sparkled in rainbow colors.   This phenomenon proved to be shockingly difficult to photograph, but I did get one image that almost conveys how amazing it was out there.


During all this harsh weather, my neighborhood has been living up to its name.   All kinds of little birds, and big birds too, have been enjoying the shelter, food and water The Havens provides.  Actually, there are plenty of mammals also enjoying The Havens along with the avian population.






We had a sumptuous Thanksgiving repast.


At Christmas, Jesse and Lynette were able to get away from their Army duties and bring James to visit us.   They were here for far too short a time, and we loved every minute of it.


I saved The Quilt for a Christmas presentation, even though the kids knew I had made it and had enjoyed hots of it during all stages of creation.   They did not know about the pillow cases or the matching throw pillow, though.   Honestly, I think it makes a pretty impressive bed.


James approved, I believe.



One of my dear friends gave me an amaryllis bulb as a Christmas gift.   This week it started to open.



Today it looks like this:



So now you are somewhat up to date.

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I’ve been trying to get the garden put away for the winter.  This is a long and involved process.   Last year it included planting a cover crop in the garden, but I’m not sure this is going to happen this year.    I believe it may just be OBE.  In this case, the event is much traveling coupled with the fact I have not in fact ordered the seeds I would need in order to plant said cover crop.

However, I did get the jungle moved back inside from its summer quarters out under the pergola and on the north side of the house.   That was a HUGE job this year because Marvin, the giant peace lily in the far left corner of the picture below, required repotting this year, as did one of his compatriots.



I managed to get all the apple sauce made, and Jim and I also made pesto out of the 3 pounds of basil leaves we stripped off the basil I picked the other day.



One of the things that became evident during the course of events is that the remainders of applesauce are apparently quite delightful.   My compost pile has several very lovely visitors because of that being thrown on it.  There are also about a million flies out there too, but I didn’t take a picture of them.




In addition to the plant tenants and the compost tenants, I have quite a few amphibians around the place.   There is a very cute little toad who I never see when I have the camera.    However, there are several leopard frogs around, and they are so accustomed to me and Jim that they don’t get particularly concerned when we come across them.   Here is one in the pond, wondering why I have that thing that is not a fly stuck in its face.


Since we have finished picking and crushing the grapes, we decided it was high time we put the stemmer/crusher away.   We were moving it into the garden shed when a very upset little tree frog emerged from the innards of the machine and said, essentially, “What the hell are you doing?   I was hunting here.”   He hopped off the machine, and after we put it away, we looked around for him so we would not step on him.   I caught him and put him over on the compost pile where I had dumped the remains of the peace lily repotting operations.



There are at least three box turtles strolling about the place.   One of them was hiding under the hostas this morning.



None of my tenants really like being photographed, except possibly the plants.   Of course, they might not like it either, but it is difficult to tell how they feel.

Anyway, last but not least, I was admiring the pollinators flitting about the place, and this little tachnid fly caught my eye.   It was extremely cooperative in posing for me.   I had the supermacro function turned on, and the camera was about half an inch away from this insect, but rather than scurrying off, he tilted his wings “just so” and I was able to catch the iridescence on them nicely.



Well, I’d best be off to pick chard.   If I’m quick I can get it blanched before my afternoon group of clients.


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One of the things I have always wanted to do was to walk on a glacier.

Actually, I have done this previously.   When I was a little girl living in the wild mountains of Colorado, we used to hike up into the high places quite frequently.   I walked on the St. Vrain glacier, and also the Arapahoe Glacier.   Nowadays, the tiny remnants that remain of both of these glaciers makes me wonder how in the name of sanity people are still able to convince themselves that there is no problem going on as regards to global climate change, or global warming (which seems to be a term that is in disrepute for some reason).

As I read the news of the disappearance and retreats of glaciers world wide, my internal need to walk on these ancient ice fields becomes more and more urgent.   When we decided to go on the seven day Inside Passage cruise up to southeast Alaska, I knew that I really really wanted to experience being on a glacier, before it was too late and there aren’t any left.    I mean, it is hard to believe that they might actually all melt world wide.   They are so massive, and there are so many of them.    People used to think that the Passenger Pigeon was so numerous they could not be hunted to extinction either.

Oh darn.   I was just going to tell you about my wonderful walk on the Herbert Glacier.   Then I went all poignant and scientifical and thoughtful on you.   Sorry.

Lets see.   We booked a tour up on the Mendenhall Glacier about four months before we went.  That is Juneau ahead of us, all decked in typical Southeast Alaskan weather.   Rain.


Because of the low ceiling at the Mendenhall Glacier, our tour was cancelled.  I am not ashamed to admit that I went to my cabin on the ship and cried like a little child over the disappointment, but the day was saved by Chris with Juneau Tours , who was able to book us on a tour with Coastal Helicopters that went later in the day and to a different glacier that was not weathered in.

(I really can’t say enough good things about the staff of Coastal Helicopters.   They were dealing with two different groups, ours and one which spoke only Hebrew and had a translator, going to two different sites in three helicopters.  They were pleasant, professional, efficient, friendly, and went out of their way to get us what we wanted, even when they had to run across the tarmac in the rain to the warehouse to secure a t-shirt in the style and size I wanted.   

And the pilot!   Wow.   I want a helicopter now.   Okay, I’ll be honest.   I want the pilot too… but I’m already taken and he’s probably way too young for me.   Still, cute!  And professional.   And a great pilot.)

Okay.   Now the pictures.   When we got to the airport where the helicopters were, the clouds opened and an omen appeared.


After a safety briefing, we were taken out to the helicopters in single file like a bunch of baby ducklings being shepherded along by their concerned Mama.  After we were all strapped in and equipped with our headphones, through which we could actually talk to the pilot, our little group of helicopters took off.


Even though none of our craft were gunships, all of us thought of the movie Apocalypse Now for some reason as our group headed off up the valley.


We flew past the Mendenhall Glacier.   Still socked in but beautiful anyway.



You can see the big terminal moraine where the glacier has receded in the past few years.  We flew over some mighty pretty country, on the lookout for wildlife.  But we didn’t see any.


It seemed like only moments, and we reached the Herbert Glacier.   Our pilot took us on an exciting little ride up over the terminus, along the glacier itself and through a small cirque off to the side where the glacier that created it was gone, centuries past.

DSCF8628 DSCF8629






It was a thrill ride.   I’m sure we were never taken closer to the rock walls of the cirque than was safe, but it felt like you could have reached out and touched them.   The helicopter tilted and rose like a magic carpet.   Finally we descended to the glacier itself and landed.


We de-coptered and our pilot strapped on crampons, and suddenly became our glacier tour guide.


First thing he took us to was a moulin.  This is a place where melt water pours into a hole that tunnels through the glacier, flowing down to the rocky bed under the glacier.   At this particular spot, the glacier was about 1500 feet thick (about 450 meters or thereabouts).    The hole, about 10′ in diameter, was plenty big enough to swallow a human if she was so careless as to slip and fall in.



“Anybody want to get close?” our intrepid guide asked.  Of course I did!   With a good hand to wrist grip on each other, he dug his crampons into the ice and I edged my way to within a couple of feet of the edge so I could get my shots.   What a rush.

After that, he led us across an ice bridge, and allowed us to peer into a deep crevasse.   “Don’t fall in that, please.   We don’t have ropes that are long enough to reach you to save you if you do,” we were instructed.   Needless to say, we approached that abyss gingerly.

This is the ice bridge.  Jim is on the bridge, our guide is down in the cave below it.



I wished I had real crampons and not the silly studded overboots I had been given by the tour operators.   Our intrepid guide helped me go down to the cave safely.




Yes.   It REALLY IS that blue.

Back out of the cave, across the bridge after looking around at some more cool stuff.  Then the obligatory shot proving that We Were There.  We were also very glad that we both had on long johns, boot socks, coats, hats and gloves.   Believe me it felt really silly to pack those things here in Missouri when it was 90 degrees.  It wasn’t so silly when we were on the glacier!


I believe that there must be a required course in operating every kind of camera known to man for all tour guides.   I have never met one that had any trouble getting a fine documentary shot of my presence at a feature.  Our guide was no exception.

All too soon our time was up; our pilot had to get us back to civilization.  As he tried to round up his four chicks, I managed to get another couple of shots.

This is a hole that is mostly full of melt water.   I guess it to be about six feet deep.


Jim looks at the view.



Back in the air, we get another juicy little roller coaster ride down to the end of the glacier.   Lots of fun.



Came around the shoulder of the mountain and BAM!   Right in front of us was spread the Lynn Canal, in all its sunset glory, complete with holes in the clouds and rays shooting down.    Unbelievable.   I was unable to get a good shot because we were heading back to Juneau and the pilot, the instruments, and the curved bubble of the copter were all in my way.

Plaintively, I asked if he could just turn the helicopter towards that view for me, please?

“Just for a minute,” was the reply.  I know we were way late, so I snapped away as he kindly held the attitude for me.



So grateful for that minute, aren’t you?

Then back to the airport, where the other groups had been landed several minutes and the rest of the tour operator staff were figuratively tapping their toes in impatience to finish their day.


It was a glorious day.

I walked on a glacier.   I am so blessed.

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