Thursday, December 21, 2017

Yay!!! It's Winter!

Today is the Winter Solstice which marks the beginning of our winter in the northern hemisphere. Meaning today is the shortest day in the year, but after today the days will start getting longer. If the days started getting sunnier that would be wonderful, but here in the Northeast we know that's probably just wishful thinking. 

Last week we got our first significant snowfall and below zero temperatures (-5), but it warmed up a couple of days ago and so some of that snow melted. 

We still have snow on the ground now, but it's melted significantly.  And then in the next few days the weather report is calling for a "winter mix". I just love that. It's either going to rain/snow/sleet or it could be rain that turns to ice or maybe snow. Who knows! I just like that temperature readout in the car when you're on the road so that when the roads are wet and your thermometer is reading below 32 it's time to get off the road and quick because that's when you could have black ice and you probably can't even see it or know it's there. That's why it's called black ice. It actually just looks like the roads are wet, but it's actually ice. So be careful out there if you're going to be traveling over the weekend for the Christmas holidays.

I really don't mind winter. Not that I spend a lot of time outside in it, but I do like watching the birds at the feeders, and going for rides to get some nice landscape and wildlife photos. And I also really like a winter storm. And I like it even better when I'm in the house and watching it snow and blow from my windows. That's when you can get some awesome photographs of the storms. 

Two Turtle Doves (not really - they're Mourning Doves)

Pileated Woodpecker (female) eating poison ivy berries
I'm sure many of you are rushing to get ready for the holidays. Remember to take time for yourself and to reflect on all your blessings. It's so easy to get caught up in all the preparations, I know I've done that myself.

Just remember the reason for the Season ~

Merry Christmas 
and Happy Holidays to all !

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

S...l...o...w...l...y But Surely ! ! !

Now, that's a funny title isn't it? 

Yes, I'm referring to Spring! And Mother Nature. She takes her time. When she sees fit to make it happen. It gradually "breaks" through.

I think the birds are more excited than ever. The early arrivals are checking out nesting sites, and other birds are happily singing their spring song. And you're patiently waiting for the days to get warmer. Yes, you've been teased. But that's just typical New York spring weather. A warm week, then back to winter, and then the rains start- .

But now we know better - the days are getting longer, the grass is greening up, the peepers are "peeping", the perennials are popping up and the spring bulbs are starting to show their colors. And oh, how we love the smell of the earth after a rain. Did you know there was even a name for that? It's called petrichor. Who knew??? It's actually the smell of the dry earth after a rain. Here is an article on why and how that happens: Why Rain Gives Off That Fresh Earthy Scent

The trees are showing their little buds swelling up and getting ready to burst open. But why does it take so long for these trees to green up and display their leaves?

How impatient we are. . . 

Come on Spring - Let's get this thing started!

Happy Easter to All! 
May your Spring be filled 
with sunshine and glorious memories!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cloudy, With a Chance of Rain (or Snow???)

It's that time of year again. Spring! On the calendar anyway. Still awhile before we will be able to plant outdoors in the north, but if we do get snow it shouldn't last too long.

Were you ever a fan of Simon and Garfunkel? If so, you might remember some of the words to one of their songs, "Cloudy". It was on the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. If you click on the link below, it might refresh your memory.

So what better way to enjoy this time of year than to study the clouds and watch them blow by and reveal to us the sun and warm days that are hiding behind them.

Here are the lyrics to "Cloudy" that was co-written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley of the Seekers.

Cloudy. The sky is gray and white and cloudy,

Sometimes I think it's hanging down on me

And it's a hitchhike a hundred miles I'm a rag-a-muffin child
Pointed finger-painted smile

I left my shadow waiting down the road for me awhile.
Cloudy. My thoughts are scattered and they're cloudy,

They have no borders, no boundaries
They echo and they swell

From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell
Down from Berkeley to Carmel

Got some pictures in my pocket and a lot of time to kill

Hey sunshine
I haven't seen you in a long time

Why don't you show your face and bend my mind?

These clouds stick to the sky
Like floating questions, why?

And they linger there to die
They don't know where they're going, and, my friend, neither do I


Don't let all the cloudy days discourage you, 
but let it inspire you! Have a great Spring!

Thanks for stopping by and
Feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Go Red for February - or Valentine's Day!

The picture below is a photo I took of a tropical hibiscus that we have on our back enclosed porch. In our area of Central/Northern New York this plant would not survive our winters, but it does nicely in a large pot in a bright location indoors. During the spring and summer we locate it outside in a sunny spot. There is another perennial that will survive our winters here and that would be the hardy hibiscus.

Another flowering plant that you see quite frequently indoors this time of year is the Amaryllis. You can pot this bulb up in late fall and usually by Christmas or January you have large blooms to brighten up your living space. This is another plant(bulb) that would not survive our winters. I either pot mine up in late spring or plant them right in the ground when it warms up (but then the bulb has to be dug up in the fall). 

Another variety of Amaryllis
Another variety of Amaryllis. Photo courtesy of Nancy Ethier Carrod. 

The picture below of a Freesia (although not very red) was a surprise to me. I purchased this plant when it was blooming last spring. I planted it directly in the ground because I thought it would rebloom after the initial one, but it never did. I really didn't know much about them, but the flower was very graceful looking and the colors were nice and bright. In late summer the plant died completely back and I thought it just died out. But a few months later when I was cleaning out the garden for fall I noticed that this plant had started sending up new shoots. So after I read up on it a little, I found out that this bulb would not survive our winters either. So I dug these bulbs up and potted them up. I also have a purple one that opened its first bloom today. I think what I might do next fall after they die back, dig them up and not re-pot them, but plant them outside in the spring. Then they should flower later in the summer. The foliage is rather strappy and has to be staked which is not very attractive, but the flowers make up for it.

And is there any other bird that looks more beautiful against a snowy backdrop than the Northern Cardinal? 

Female Northern Cardinal

The picture below is of a male Pileated Woodpecker. It's native to North America and found around the Great Lakes and Canada in deciduous forests. It's male identifying characteristics would be the red moustache from the beak and the red on the top of his head that extends to the beak. The female would have a black moustache and the red on top of the head would not extend that far down the front of the face. They drill large holes with their beak on dead trees in search of ants and bugs.

My husband got the great capture of Robins in our side yard last week. There was a very large flock of Robins that flew in and they were here most of the afternoon drinking from the exposed water areas of the ditches and run-off. We usually don't see Robins in this area until the end of March so we're thinking that maybe the Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog was wrong this year and we'll have an early spring.

Sumac against the winter gray sky.

And what a surprise it was last spring to find out that we had a den of Red Foxes (babies are called kits, cubs, or pups) living under our shed. We thought something was living under there, but we were thinking maybe it was a raccoon or possum. So my husband set up the trail camera in the area to find out what it was and this showed up.

"All you need is love.
 But a little chocolate now 
and then doesn't hurt." 
~ Charles M. Schultz

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Is This "The Winter Of Our Discontent"?

For some reason this title came to mind for this blog post.

 Can you guess Why? I'm sure I don't have to tell you; so many people are dealing with personal emotions of grief and loss after the Presidential Election of 2016 where Donald Trump won enough votes in the Electoral College to be the 45th President of the United States.

This blog post is not about applauding either political party or Donald Trump, but it's just my thoughts on thinking about the decisions we make and how we look at life. It's not meant as a post to argue or share disparaging remarks, but rather to look at the results and outcomes in a different light and try to experience awareness and sensitivity to what others are feeling at this time from either side of the political spectrum.

I've never read the book The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck, but after Googling it, I think I'll have to put that on my reading list. Does this book relate to our election? I can't say because I haven't read the book yet, but the title fits. After I read it I'll let you know what I think. The original lines were William Shakespeare's from his play Richard III. (Haven't read that play either or if I did I forgot it.)

Most of  the pictures I have posted in this blog post are in black and white. There are a few in color, but this time of year, if we have an overcast day here in the northeast, there is not much color in the landscape, especially where there is snow cover. Pretty much black and white, drab landscapes or when there is not much snow in the fields then the brown fields and trees of the landscape take on more of a sepia tone.

To me personally, life and our decisions are not just black or white/right or wrong, but a series of events or situations that lead us to to a somewhat murky view or answer. After we carefully consider and examine where our thoughts and answers are leading us we usually make final decisions based on those thoughts.

My thoughts on this leads me to a chapter in Deepak Chopra's book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success which highlights non-judgmental practises.

A quote from his book is:
"Judgment is the constant evaluation of things as right or wrong, good or bad. When you are constantly evaluating, classifying, labeling, analyzing, you create a lot of turbulence in your internal dialogue. This turbulence constricts the flow of energy between you and the field of pure potentiality. You literally squeeze the "gap" between thoughts. . . Non-judgment quiets the internal dialogue, and this opens once again the doorway to creativity."
So much of our energy can be spent evaluating and judging (and I know I'm guilty of this as well). When we use our energy for judging we cannot be creative. It takes so much of our energy to judge and we really don't know what encompasses other peoples' decisions and why they do or say the things they do. But remember it's not just black or white/right or wrong.

Many people are dealing with several "gray" areas in their lives and in the decisions they make. What's necessarily not right for you might be ok for them after making their own conscientious decisions and evaluations. It's not all cut and dry or black and white. 

Just like in photography in the photos I'm showing you in this post. If everything was black and white we really wouldn't see the nuances or intensity of photographs. As in life, in peoples' actions and decisions we don't know what they are dealing with or why they come to the conclusions they do. So much enters our decision-making that we have to rely on our hearts and minds to make the best decisions that are right for us where we are at any particular time in our life. You all have heard the phrase "Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes". 

Here is link to Deepak Chopra's blog: Intent Blog Deepak Chopra

The photo below illustrates just a black and white picture - no gray areas. You don't see any of the nuances of shadows or warmth from forests, or the intense blues of the sky, or fluffy white clouds....

Same picture as above with more depth by adding shades of gray (not just black & white). . .

And lastly, the same picture. . .

Just like in photos, life's decisions are not all right or wrong/black or white. It's based on all that comes together in peoples' hearts and what's right for them. Their Consciences. Practice non-judgment in your life and you will be a happier person!

Thanks for stopping by ~
Feel free to leave a comment!