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Posts Tagged ‘weather’

I have been avoiding Crystal Bridges for a long time.  I heard about it a long time ago, probably around the time it was being built by the Walmart heiress who did it.  For some reason, the fact that all that money came off the backs of people who labored for that empire in not very good conditions bothered me.

But a lot of my friends have gone down there and loved it.  I guess that sort of thing doesn’t bother them enough to keep from availing themselves of the experience.  After all, you only have to pay for the special exhibits.  The rest of the collection is free.

I have to admit the museum itself is a work of art.  Seldom have I seen a more beautiful building, and it really set off the site it was built upon.  The surrounding grounds with all their sculpture were beautiful to view from within.  I know there are several miles of trail but it was so raw a day we did not walk on them.  Next time.

Crystal Bridges has a pretty decent collection too, although I was sort of surprised that it did not include a single Peter Max, who truly is a pretty well known American Artist and certainly is worthy of having his work represented.   Nor were there any Russells on display.  At least not at the moment.

They do have four different Georgia O’Keeffe works on display, which made me happy.  There is a large Jimson Weed painting, just gorgeous.  It was not lit very well, so it was difficult to appreciate the glory of her brush work.   They also had a couple of smaller studies, one a still life with leaf and feather and the other one of the hills near Ghost Ranch.  The surprise for me was a large bronze sculpture by her.  I thought I knew about Ms. O’Keeffe, and either I did not know or had forgotten that she had done some bronzes.     The one on display was very beautiful but I would have liked to have seen it put farther out in the middle of the floor rather than stuck in a corner where you could not walk around it and observe the flow of light along it.

One thing about Crystal Bridges that bugged both Jim and myself was the very poor lighting of the collection.  I am not sure what the curator and the hangers were thinking, but there were several walls that had far too many works on them set way too close together.   Each one had bright lights on them, and if you tried to get close enough to see brush work the glare was so severe you could not see anything, not even colors and shapes.   If you stood back far enough to get away from the glare, the works’ proximity to each other made it hard to focus on them individually.

There were some very amazing large works that occupied full wall panels that were very fun to look at up close.  Then when you went outside and looked at them from the lawn, they were a completely different story.   Very complex.

I am afraid that there was a period of time during our visit I really wished I had never studied music, because for some reason the museum had a young man playing the cello near one of the galleries.   It was interesting to see the audience lapping up his very Chopinesque murder of the Bach Cello Suite in C.  It was pretty excruciating to listen to his out of tune, rubato rendition of a work that I studied assiduously for an entire semester while I was at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  I sort of missed a whole section of the museum because I felt compelled to get out of that wing before I was driven to madness.

We LOVED the special exhibit that was in residence,  “The Soul of a Nation”, a comprehensive focus on the art of Black Americans during the Civil Rights era.   If that collection comes to a city near you, I highly recommend a visit.   It was educational, illuminating, thought provoking, and filled with some really wonderful art by artists that I was largely unaware of.

It is no secret that I love beautiful things; it might even be an addiction.  Although we went into the Museum Shop fully expecting to leave empty handed, that was not to be.   There was a vase there that called out to come home with us.   So we ransomed it and freed it from its captivity on the shelf.   It truly is a wonderful work of art from Cohasset Gifts and Garden.

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I accepted the reflection of the dining room lights in this photo because the illumination from above really brings out the sculptural aspect of the molten glass having been draped over the root it rests on.

This following shot was serendipitous in the extreme.   I had opened the dining room curtains and noticed how the scene out side reflected in the glass of the vase.

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Well, I hope that everyone has a fantastic week.  It is supposed to warm up around here, and I am very much ready for it.

We are waiting with bated breath to learn whether or not the freezing and just below freezing temperatures will have been enough to kill the wisteria buds.

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Even though the weather has been totally schizophrenic, the species tulips are out in full force.

I planted some in my newest Day Lily garden, which started out life as the Rose Garden portion of my stroll garden.  Over the years all the roses planted there succumbed to the rose rosette disease that is indigenous to our area.  Thanks to the plantings of multiflora roses done in the 30s and 40s, we not only have a vector for the mite that carries the virus but a state-wide infestation of an invasive exotic.

At any rate, a couple of years ago when the last rose kicked the bucket, I repurposed the area as a day lily garden.  I needed a new space for them since the original day lily garden is not very happy any more due to the fact that the shrubbery of the stroll garden has gotten so tall it shades the day lilies to the north of it, and the ground ivy and vinca are busy trying to strangle them at the same time.

There are days when I wonder why in the world I think I have enough energy to maintain all the gardens I do have.  Especially when I am suffering the results of the face plant I did a few days ago.   My artificial hip does not think that was a good activity to engage in.   But at least I did not plant my face in the rock borders of the path I fell into.

But I digress.

It turns out that if you plant species tulips you have planted something that is a survivor and a colonizer.   If you think about the fact that most of these little beauties are natives of the mountains of Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan, it makes perfect sense.   Even so, it was news to me that a couple of tiny bulbs could manifest as empire builders.   They are indeed.

DSCF6629Check out the orange tulips, and ntoice how they have spread through the garden.  The yellow ones in the right corner have completely filled in the area around the perovskia (Russian sage).   Fortunately, they appear to be willing to peacefully coexist with it, unlike some other colonizers I could name.   (e.g. Missouri primrose, spotted knapweed).

Here is a close up of the corner where the tulips are happiest.

DSCF6630Yes, yes.   I see the chickweed in the lower corner.

Two days ago it was 80 degrees here, yesterday the temperature dropped precipitously all day and this morning it is just below freezing.   I have a cover over my peonies, which are now about a foot tall, and am hoping and praying that they will survive tonight.   The wisteria is way too large to cover, it has big swollen buds and I hope it also makes it through the freeze promised for tonight.

The tulips won’t care at all.

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We took Jim off to the airport in St. Louis on Wednesday so he could catch a more or less early flight to Wisconsin on Thursday morning.

I drove home in the rain on Thursday morning and it proceeded to continue raining off and on until today.  This beautiful Sunday dawned crystal clear and frosty, but now the sun is shining, the bees are out foraging and the crocuses are blooming.

All told we received over 7 inches of rain in those three days, and that made the yard impressively wet.  Ruby really didn’t see any reason she should go Out There in All That Mud, but I knew that her bladder and bowels needed to empty, and so I insisted, much to her dismay, I might add.

I did go out and take a few pictures in the rain.  I’m sure it must have been an amusing sight if anyone had seen me juggling my  umbrella and the camera in the downpour.  The wonderful Fuji digital that I use may be old and starting to have wonky switches, but it still works and I did not see any good coming out of drenching it in the name of documenting the deluge.

Yesterday afternoon, the labyrinth looked like this:

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Today, less than 24 hours later, it presents a very different mien.

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I did zero in on one very wet clump of crocuses that was courageously trying to convince everyone that it really is spring, even though we have yet to cross the vernal equinox.

DSCF6583Those game little flowers are a whole lot happier today.  And amazingly enough, they did not drown.

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In case you are wondering what the bees are finding to forage for, there are crocuses (obviously).  But there are also bluets up, and the henbit is going to be in full bloom by tomorrow.  The witch hazel is in full bloom too, and so the honeybees are busy replenishing their stores.

 

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The snowdrops are out today.   They have been out for at least 10 days.

A week ago Sunday (I think), we had a fine sunny day and they decided it was an optimum time to bloom.  Within two days, it got very cold, temperatures down in the teens.   They tucked their heads down and held on.

Then it warmed up a bit last Wednesday and Thursday.  They perked up.

The next day, the bottom dropped out of the temperatures again.  But it didn’t get so cold that we couldn’t achieve freezing rain.   Last Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday these flowers were coated with about a quarter of an inch of ice.   Nevertheless, they persisted.

Monday the ice started melting, and it continued to gradually warm up all week. Yesterday it got into the sixties, and today we reached a high of 78 degrees.   And so the snowdrops are merry.

They are joined in the party by a flock of early crocuses that popped up all over the lawn this afternoon.   There were two or three blooms yesterday, but today there are dozens.

It is sprinkling this evening.   And rumor has it that it is supposed to get cold again forthwith.

This weather is giving me whiplash.

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We are getting some badly needed rain.  It has been threatening all morning, flashing and muttering under its breath, teasing us with brief sprinkles.

The radar shows that all of this activity is moving along to the south, which is odd because most of the lightning and clouds I am looking at are to the north of me.  At any rate, I am glad it is raining.   We need for the ground to be nicely wet and more rain promised in order to distribute the beneficial nematodes that are reputed to dine on Japanese beetle grubs.  With a good rain under our belt, and more promised, we can order the supplier to ship them.  With any luck, the weather will cooperate and keep the ground nice and wet after they are applied.

I am happy that there is a storm, Impy is NOT.   I don’t know what horrible trauma happened to him in his kittenhood, but he is terrified of thunder and slinks off full speed ahead for the nearest closet as soon as the first distant rumble occurs.  This morning has been just terrible for him.  With the sporadic nature of this storm, there have been periods of calm in between the heavenly percussion performance long enough for him to stick his whiskers out.   Inevitably, as soon as he is bold enough to exit his sanctuary, a random clap of thunder will send him scurrying back under cover.

We have hypothesized that Impy can understand the weatherman and has listened to all the instructions regarding what to do to be safe in a stormy situation.   If you don’t have a shelter to move into, you should stay in an interior room (preferably with no windows) and put a pillow over your head.  When you hear thunder, you should keep yourself as close to the ground as possible while you move to shelter to minimize the danger of being struck by lightning.   And for God’s sake, don’t go stand under a tree.

Our local YMCA is so careful about lightning danger that they clear the pool if there is any within a few miles of us.   Consequently, this morning our water aerobics class was only 15 minutes long.

I have been surfing the interwebs excessively, so I finally decided I ought to get something worthwhile done instead of endlessly posting on facebook.  I made the bed, and cleaned the catboxes.   I did the dishes, and I am contemplating the idea of vacuuming.   I am pretty sure I can spend enough time on my blog that I simply won’t have time to do that chore before I have to leave for my mammogram.

While I was washing the dishes the storm finally blew into our area and produced a measurable amount of rain.   I was musing as I scrubbed my pots about how one would depict the skies opening up as a response to a prompt of “Open” on an the Art Journal Adventure.   The view out my window captivated me as I worked and pondered.  The finches are busy at  the feeder, they don’t care it is raining and neither do the squirrels, who use their tails as easily as an umbrella as they do a sunshade or blanket.

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The rain will be good for the garden too.  The peas are about an inch tall, and the lettuce that we tended all winter is going gangbusters.   I heartily endorse the use of cold frames in this climate.   We ate beautiful lettuce all winter.

So as I allowed this train of thought to pass through the station of my mind, a huge ground strike flashed down just to the northeast.

I was standing at the window, scrubbing a metal pot with my hands in running water, and I recalled the wisdom that says you can get a pretty bad shock if lightning strikes near your water line when you have your hands in running water.   Suddenly I thought “If that bolt had struck the house and electrocuted me where I stood, I suppose my last thought would have been ‘Impy was right’.”

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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We had a sumptuous Thanksgiving repast.

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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.

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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.

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James approved, I believe.

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

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Today it looks like this:

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So now you are somewhat up to date.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Jim looks at the view.

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

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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.

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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.

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It was a glorious day.

I walked on a glacier.   I am so blessed.

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