Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rooms Without Walls in the City

A healthy society needs lots of green space for its people. Green space to rest the eyes, green space to rest the weary body, green space to rest the tired ears, and green to rest the soul. Most cities accept and promote this sanctuary for its citizens. Below are two photo-paintings I created of the area outside the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Nederlands.  Perhaps inspired a bit by the art inside?

After all, if the leaders did not see the importance of letting in the natural world where could people fall in love?

Thursday, August 31, 2017


My life has been a nasty roller coaster this past week. I have been able to keep the worry away until bedtime because I have a beautiful 6-year-old visiting for the week that is a pleasant distraction. The bike ride to and the picnic at a distant state park have given me the respite I badly needed yesterday. Hoping you and yours find ways to ease the week ahead.

The air was cool and so fresh. Almost like an early visit from fall.  The breeze off the ocean kept away any insects but was not so strong that it was annoying for our picnic near the beach.  

The park was almost ours as only one family with children were at the dozens of picnic tables and one other couple our age were exploring the nature center and the historic sites.  Grandson had plenty of room to learn to ride his new bike both on the paved roads and the grassy areas.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Steady Pace

The air is just a bit flat this week, meaning the moisture is down. The shadows are sharper and the sun is not so hot.  A tidbit of fall?  A sneak peek.  Having the 6-year-old means we can spend more time on his new bike and not sweat so much.  I took a walk around the yard, and these are the harbingers of fall at my feet.

My cosmos are in full and abundant bloom, but the early blossoms now look like this.

I realize that no matter what events happen in my life, the world marches on at its steady pace and does not worry that I have fallen behind.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Using It All Up

My garden is tired, just like me at the end of the summer. We have had weekly torrential downpours allowing me to feel less guilty about my neglect.  Amazingly, the tiny hummingbird finds the small yellow blossoms on the zinnia and is able to make a small meal.

His balance and focus are superb and he does not miss one blossom.

And as if to remind me not to pull up the plants another animal comes by and uses up what is left.

I will just let them tidy everything up for a few more weeks.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

They Return Each Day

This is the full-table time of year when an abundance of fruit and seeds is available for all.

And below the whole family showed up this time, but were spooked by the click of my camera and thus this one shot was all I get off.

Friday, July 28, 2017


There are always surprises when you live in the woods, and ever evolving ecosystem.  This means that these woods are hardly as natural as they were generations ago. This was unnatural farmland, perhaps owned by a black family, about 80 years ago and has now grown back to woodland complete with invasives and paved roads. My husband even found a broken hand plow from Germany in the woods.  

A change but not uncommon finding was the bottom jaw with tiny teeth of a fawn near our path to the dock.  We had seen buzzards flapping awkwardly onto tree branches in that area, but thought nothing of it as we were packing for a trip. By the time we returned there were just a few bones left beside the jawbones and these were being eaten by beetles. We had not seen any fawns this year and while we have an ongoing battle with the deer eating landscape plants at the driveway entrance, we were also sad not to see the dappled backs of the new young ones with their soft brown inquisitive eyes. Yesterday, while I was making quiche for dinner, I looked out the kitchen window as I often do and saw this young one.

While I went to get my camera and quietly opened the door to the deck, I saw this second one!

Yes, he/she is sticking their tongue out at me. They watched me for a few seconds.  No adult could be seen to snuffle or stamp or flash a tail and warn them, so they just stood.  After a short time, the slightly smaller one of the two turned and decided it was time to retreat back into the safety of the shadows of the trees and was soon followed by the other.

I was glad for the break in cooking and relieved to know that two young ones, who may be on their own, seem to be stable for now.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Pause That Refreshes

We had a break today. The heat and humidity disappeared and was replaced by high 70-degree weather and no humidity. It meant I could go outside to weed in the morning for an hour or so and not have to wear a towel around my neck. The rains yesterday made the ground soft for pulling up the invasive crab grass and that newcomer, the Japanese stilt grass! When I was done I went inside for my second cup of coffee. While sipping on it and looking out the patio window I saw this...

That crazy ten-foot sunflower plant in the pot on my deck had attracted two hummingbirds. Both were territorial and fought for space making it twice as hard to capture them.  But, as you can see, my sunflower is blooming very well!

While I have not seen the goldfinch, I expect them any day as the first blossom in the photo above is drying and producing seed.

I could see the little hummers flitting through the trees as I sat on the patio waiting for them to return.  They are such fierce fighters with each other.  One even flew up to my face within two feet as if trying to figure out my species.

Friday, July 21, 2017

While I Was Away

Those who read my other blog know that I have been in New York City for the prior week. Those of you who garden realize that being away from your growing plants for a long time is a bit traumatic.  You try to plan your vacation trip around the growing season.  Or you either throw things to the hands of fate or you try to find someone to water and check on things and keep your fingers crossed . 

We did not have anyone to really check on things except the man who helps mow and trim on the weekends. But we "lucked out" in that a heavy rain came mid-week. My roses are bereft as there was no one to pick off the beetles and deadhead to encourage more blooms. My other flowers have almost completed blooming before the fall time. 

This time in my yard with the heat and humidity there are a few late lilies, the ever patient phlox and the rather weedy annual flower bed full of zinnias and sunflowers all overshadowed by a thousand coreopsis!   The crepe myrtles are still in bud.

The vegetables had grown large and watery...cucumbers and tomatoes. We will pick and eat them anyway. 

This year hubby planted a new variety of sweet blueberry and we had amended the soil to finally get a decent crop.  Granddaughter helped us pick a pint or so for pancakes the next morning.

I also noticed that the planters I had placed in large bins of water (with mosquito dunks) had managed to hold their health if indeed looking a bit haggard from wind and pelting rain. But there was one surprise...

This sunflower, that volunteered from the bird seed this past winter, I staked well and it is  now 10 feet tall!  Soon goldfinch will flash their golden beauty and start picking away at the seeds and chumming down on the golden petals.

My gardening will have to wait as the weather is now unbearable!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

I Have Volunteers

Each year I purchase a few annuals to put in pots on my deck. Every other year or so I change out the soil. This year I did not replace the soil as I was in California. When I returned I got a fertile sunflower from seed dropped by a bird during the winter feedings on my deck.  (All photos were taken through a somewhat dirty window!)

This sunflower is one of those giants you see in fields in France or perhaps our own Midwest. It is huge and I have staked it in the hopes of saving it from our winds and torrential downpours. Of course, it really sucks up all the moisture and I have to go out and water each day.

It seems that the goldfinch are impatient for it to flower.  

The male and female are not as disheveled as they have probably gotten their young ones out of the nest and on their way.

But their impatience is strong.  So now they are tearing apart the seeds of another volunteer in my petunia pot...the zinnias.  It is a colorful show I must admit, although it will probably ensure no zinnia volunteers next year.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Flower Painting with the Computer

I have been hiding from the hot sun and very humid days recently.  I sneak out early in the morning and water a few places and weed a few others in my flower gardens.  Then I lumber back inside with cut grass covering my feet and twigs in my hair and bugs on my back and go to my computer in the air-conditioned cave and spend time "painting."

This 'artwork' hides the weeds and softens the dead-heads on the flowers and evens out the harsh sunlight.

And I can pretend my garden looks as nice as yours. Your know who you are up in the lovely Northwest with all your soft and misty rain!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Scary or Just Lucky

The world is a scary place sometimes.

Above is a click-eyed beetle.  This one was about two inches long and quite and an eye-catcher.  It does not bite or sting and those round outlined circles on its back are not the eyes.  In the adult stage, it eats the larva of other insects, so it is considered beneficial.  I understand that if you catch it and put it upside down on the ground it will click its spine and right itself.  I was not brave enough to do that.

Above in this photo is the Hummingbird moth that is a voracious feeder of nectar.  This one is loving my bee balm.  They also are beneficial and do not sting or bite.  They almost look like a hummingbird when flying.

According to one website, "Hummingbird moths have been seen as a lucky omen. In particular, a swarm of the moths was seen flying across the English Channel on D-Day, the day of the Normandy landings in the Second World War."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

And the Sun Returns

The sun has made its farthest reach to the west in this photo and now that summer solstice has arrived it will begin its journey back again to the left in the photo above.  I have been indoors during this magic hour most evenings because it is after dinner and dishes and I have put my feet up.  But the red in the window caught my eye and even though I had just changed into my nightwear I put on sandals and hurried down to the dock to capture such a lovely sunset.    (At my age I no longer care if neighbors catch me in my jammies.  It is an honor to be the subject of gossip rather than forgotten.)

The menhaden have started their dance up into my small finger of the river.  They are small fish that flash silver when they flip to swallow more plankton for dinner.  They swim in ballet groups of dozens and we saw several of these groups.  Next, they will be followed by those that eat them.  It is a constant drama.

There was a soft breeze that swept away the heat and humidity of the day and there was an added bonus of no biting flies or mosquitoes to distract from trying to keep the camera steady.

(Colors are true and not enhanced.)
Even when I turned around to head back to the house there was a different show going on behind me.

Glad to share my blessings on this day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Who is that Tapping at My Window Pane?

The Blue Birds remain at my house this week.  (My prior post on this is here.)  The male and female arrive each morning just before sunrise and start at the deck perching on the backs of the chairs and staring at me on the couch with my laptop and coffee in hand.  This photo below is grainy because of the darkness of the morning I had to push the exposure.

I know they must see me because it is too early for the sun's reflection to hide the room. There is a lamp over my shoulder which has to open that part of the room to some glow and reveal my movements. They twitter almost timidly as only the Blue Bird can and then they thrust themselves at the windows for about ten minutes.  Their tapping against the window sounds careless as if they have tripped on their way somewhere and have to catch their balance.

I recently moved the potted geranium to protect it more from the hot summer sun and the Blue Bird appeared almost immediately to eat the bugs that I had exposed.

Lately, they have moved to the front of my house and do the same window pane "thrust and parry" there. I have recently discovered that they have a nest in a box on the post below the deck and at the side of the patio below. Not sure how they will have energy left to raise young ones since they seem to be constantly fighting with their imaginary neighbors. It is well into June and this will probably be a second nest for experienced parents, or a first if they are new to the routine this year. 

Hubby says they are defending their territory and seeing reflections of themselves in the windows around the house and I am sure he is correct. I am startled some mornings when I go to make coffee and find both of them peering in from the kitchen windowsill only inches from my nose until I flick on the light and they fly away.

A few years ago it was the constant and gentle tapping of the male Cardinal and that went on for about a month.  Cardinals do not nest in boxes, so they must have a had a nest high in the trees somewhere.  I wonder if I will miss the Blue Birds as I did the Cardinal.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Frittering Around

Early in the spring, maybe early April, while the weather was still cool, I saw a Monarch butterfly sailing across my yard and stopping at the tight green buds of the butterfly weed that was slowly emerging in one of my flower beds. I felt a pang of concern that he/she had flown here so early.  I had not seen a single butterfly other than this one and there was no nectar for sustenance.   The iris were blooming as were Columbine, but no substantial energy seemed available for this insect carrying some magnificent abstract orange and black art on its back.

We are now well into June and butterflies of all types are crossing the lawn to check out the butterfly weed, the Echinacea, the lavender, the primrose, etc.  

Below are a few of my visitors these past two weeks.

Checkered White---Pontia protodice

One of the skippers, a little blurry.

American Lady ? a little tattered from the storms.

Spicebush Swallowtail---Papilio troilus

Zebra swallowtail---Eurytides marcellus

Black swallowtail---Papilio polyxenes

Great spangled fritillary(?)---Speyeria aphrodite

They really do compete with the blossoms!