Gray Day Reflections

Winter trees reflecting

Water distorting 

Circular patterns overlaying dendrite shapes 

Black on gray coloring 



Bubbles and leaves floating 

These images were captured on a recent trip to a cemetery to put a wreath on my grandparent’s grave. The lighting was perfect for capturing reflections on a water surface; the distortion is from the movement of the water, the breeze, and the debris floating on the surface.

Lady Bird Johnson

Tomorrow is the hundredth anniversary of Lady Bird Johnson’s birth. I’ve been reminded of it by the stamps issued in her honor by the US Post Office.

But today I am thinking about what I remember over the years about Lady Bird. Of course - my impressions are through the veil of the way the media portrayed her….but they are overwhelmingly positive. When I read her A White House Diary, her interests and approach to problems seemed so rational.

Every time I see wildflowers growing along a high way - the mowers avoiding cutting them before they go to seed - I think of her. Her advocacy to remove the eyesore of litter and excessive billboards has been so long lasting that many people in our country don’t really remember that ugly aspect of 60s.

So - here’s to legacy of Lady Bird Johnson.


The Last of the 2012 Tomatoes

The last of the tomatoes have been harvested from my parents’ garden near Dallas, Texas. Some of them will make it to ripeness laying out on a paper towel in the garden room of the house….little remnants of summer in December. There is a poinsettia on the table beside them.

Today I am celebrating tomatoes as part of our Christmas decorations!

Windows to the Sky

Looking through a skylight provides a different perspective - a narrow vertical look upward. The boundlessness of the look straight up can be dizzying because there is nothing to grasp onto.  Sometimes an overhanging tree provides a link to the horizontal view of the world that we take most of the time.  Experiencing heavy rain or hail while standing under a skylight enables us to feel the power of weather while protected from its fury.

Today I am celebrating the look upward to the sky!

Around our (Maryland) Yard in December 2012

Maryland in December is the time for the trees to take on their winter starkness. All the leaves are gone from the trees in the forest and the sycamore in our garden.

The dried hydrangea flowers have lost their pink color.

More of the onion seeds have been rattled out of their pods.



The shelf fungus on the oak stump looks a little battered

And the forsythia at the edge of the forest is a bit confused - blooming in the fall rather than its usual spring cycle.

Hospital Experiences - Part III

This is the third post in a series with thoughts about my recent experience having an elderly family member in the hospital - focusing on how life continues on with that disruption.


It is wonderful when all the changes start turning in the positive direction ---- and how focused physical therapy improves mobility almost magically. Even after 7 days in intensive care, the improvements come quickly with the increased physical activity seemingly speeding other aspects of recovery as well. Of course, it helps to have a patient that is anxious to leave the hospital and is willing to follow directions!

On the home front - we are graduating from a sustaining focus on eating and sleeping enough to getting the house ready for a walker and more guests. It’s easy to see that the homecoming will be quite a celebration...between rest periods.

The rose by the driveway is blooming and will be one of the first things she’ll see when we bring her home. After illness, the beauties in life are all the more appreciated both by the patient and the rest of the family.

Bradford Pear Trees

The Bradford pear trees are in full fall colors right now around Dallas, Texas. Many of the trees are quite large. The tree was very popular for medians and yards 20 years ago. More of them have survived in this area than in Maryland where there have been enough instances of high winds to take most of them down….and they are replaced by other types of trees.


Today I am enjoying the beauty of the trees in fall - remembering them full of flowers in the spring - but glad that I no longer have one in my yard.

November Sunrise

sunrise 3.jpg

Sunrise in November….possible to photograph from my front doorstep now that the leaves have fallen from the trees. It happens about 7 AM so no need to get up any earlier than usual. It does tend to be cold. This morning - when I took these pictures - it was below freezing; there was frost on the lawn.

The early part of the sunrise has the most red - it’s my favorite and means that my favorite photographs are always 15-20 minutes before the actual sunrise.

Sunrise is always the hopeful beginning of the day but some are interesting than others. Patchy clouds near the horizon reflect the colorful light. The ones this morning were moving too. The silhouettes of trees give us scale and stabilize the context of the image.

Of course the color of the light itself enhances other images. I captured the frozen day lilies - my confused plant that bloomed in the spring and then again in the late fall. 

Enjoy the Monday after Thanksgiving!

Brookside Gardens in November 2012

Brookside Gardens in November is sliding toward winter. Most of the trees have lost their leaves. There are a few maples still holding their red leaves - like the tree near the tea pavilion at the left.

I’ve selected my favorite photos from the rest of my walk through the gardens for the slide show below.

There was one rose bud trying to unfurl in mid-November and new red leaves were at the tips of the rose bush stems. Some pumpkins and other squash that had been inside the conservatory in October had been moved outside to make way for the model train exhibit that will open later in the month. Kale - purple and green - is planted to give some color through the older months to come. Mallard ducks are enjoying the ponds. And - there are still plenty of yellows, reds and greens to enjoy.

Ten Days of Little Celebrations - November 2012

Back in mid-August I posted about finding things to celebrate each day. It’s an easy thing for me to do and getting into the habit of writing it down each day reminds me to be grateful for these and a myriad of other things in my life. Here are some ‘little celebrations’ I’ve noted this month:

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starting. I had my outline and spreadsheet of character notes ready to go; it was a relief to finally start writing on November 1. I celebrated at the end of the day because I had successfully reached my goal of 3000 words.


Hot chocolate on a cold day. I celebrated that there were packets of hot chocolate mix in the pantry left from last winter. It is a nice contrast to hot tea.


Raking finished in the back yard. I celebrated even though I knew that it was only ‘finished’ for the day. There were still too many leaves on the trees.


Forest near at hand. Even though I live in an area that is full of houses and businesses, there are forested areas too - along the rivers and creeks, around catchment basins, in the medians and along the sides of roads. The forest has the effect of hiding the population density - a cloak of beauty over whatever flaws our ‘civilization’ has made.


The election. However fractured we are politically - the US held an election that told us more about ourselves than the polls had been screaming for months in advance. That is something worth celebrating.


Brookside Gardens could be on my celebration list every month of the year. There is always something new to see. The ‘river of leaves’ under the gingko tree was one of my favorite images this month.


Perfect score on a weekly quiz. I took a Coursera course on Obesity Economics and finally - managed to get familiar enough with the jargon to do well on the 3rd of 4 weekly quizzes.


50,000 words mark on my NaNoWriMo novel. The NaNoWriMo goals if 50,000 words and I managed to write them in the first 12 days of the month - and discovered I still had a lot of my outline to go. It took me another 7 days and over 20,000 words to finish the outline. I have had mini-celebrations all along the way; there are so many personal firsts.


A family medical emergency that ended well. I had a family member than was rushed to the hospital - had surgery the next day - and went home two days after the surgery. It was an emotional roller coaster for a few days….but turned into a series of little celebrations.


Gift wrapping. I volunteered to gift wrap packages at a local Nature Center shop to advertise the Friends group for the Center. It’s a great way to start off the holiday season - and I learned how to make a pretty bows with paper ribbon.

Previous ‘little celebrations’ posts can be found here.

Ready for the Light Show at Brookside Gardens

Brookside Gardens looked close to being ready for the annual Garden of Lights Winter Walk that starts the evening of November 23 and continues through January 6. Last weekend we walked around the gardens during the day to see how the light features are created. Favorite features from previous years were obvious: the hyacinth lights, the sea serpent in an emptied reflecting pool, animal forms (frog and lion pictured below…but there are many more) and flowers of all shapes and sizes. Several new items we noted used recycled plastic bottles as reflectors and diffusers of lights. I’ll post again when I see how they look at night.

3 Free eBooks - November 2012

The Internet has a growing number of online books….and many of them are free. This is the second monthly post highlighting 3 that I have found within the past month.

Cooper-Hewitt. Kata-gami : Japanese stencils. Washington: Smithsonian Institution; 1979. Available at - Another feast for the eyes. It is hard to pick a favorite but I keep coming back to “Grain Plants on a Lattice” on page 19 (partial image at left).

Mathew, Frank James; Walker, Francis S., illustrator. Ireland. London: A&C Black; 1907. Available at - Look at this one for the illustrations. They are in color and depict Ireland in the early 1900s. 

Clock, Emma Graham. Wild flowers from the mountains, cañons and valleys of California. San Francisco: H.S. Crocker Co; 1915. Available at - How many of these do you recognize? The flowers are ‘reproductions from water colors’ - strikingly vivid against black backgrounds (example at right). 

The previous post is here

Pine Cones

When I was raking up the blanket of leaves in my backyard, I uncovered pine cones from our neighbors’ pines that had fallen into our yard. It was a welcome discovery…a serendipity find that will give the house a piney scent for the holiday! I kept tossing them into a pile in part of the yard I had already raked. Now they are indoors and piled in a sleigh shaped basket on the hearth awaiting some further decoration when we get out our boxes of Christmas ornaments sometime after Thanksgiving.

So - today I am celebrating the color and shape and smell of pine cones. Enjoy the slideshow!

Celebrating a Sycamore

Sycamores are often awkward looking trees. When they are young their trunks are skinny and their leaves look too big. The young trunks often redeem themselves with their flexibility. The one that came up on my back flowerbed - which I have been cultivating the past few years - survived both the derecho that came through our area last July and Hurricane Sandy more recently.

The leaves keep growing for the whole season and are quite tough. They don’t decompose as easily as many other leaves. When I cleaned out my garden at the beginning of the summer there were some brown leathery sycamore leaves that appeared as intact as the day they fell from the tree.

But this particular tree has made up for is awkwardness by holding onto its leaves a little longer than many of the other trees this year. Their fading of green to yellow to brown - the combination of points and curves - fluttering…they are the holdout of the season right now. It is the last hurrah of summer.

The tree in my garden is not old enough to have the white bark that would make it so easily identifiable in winter. It takes years for a sycamore to become a ghost tree.....perhaps more than I will live in this house. 

Around our (Maryland) Yard in November 2012

Maryland in November is the time the raking of the leaves peaks. The leaves on our sycamore have stayed on longer than I thought it would since we already had a few of them falling in early October.


The hydrangea blossoms have deepened their color as they’ve dried. I am considering bringing some inside for a dried flower arrangement. 



The seeds for next year’s crop of onions are ready to fall in the garden.

And it’s definitely time to rake the leaves into mounds to they won’t kill the grass. The maples and tulip poplars are the most prevalent in our yard.

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 10, 2012

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles I read this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article:

Genetic Roulette - The Gamble of our Lives - 1.5 hour video about GMOs….even if you want to dismiss the issue as unimportant to you, you should understand why many people and countries are not.

Non-GMO Shopping Guide - Even without labels…you can

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #26 - Which one is your favorite? I like the painted sandgrouse this week although the great blue heron is always a favorite too.

Eight National Park Lodges Join Historic Hotels of America - Don’t all of the sound inviting…for themselves and where they are located.

Are Facebook and Internet Addictions Affecting Our Minds? - infographic

Golden stollen - wonder how one could make a gluten-free version of this

9 New Tree-Loving and Endangered Tarantula Species Discovered in Brazil - includes pictures of 6

Five Parks Where Winter Is Anything But Off-Season - Acadia, Biscayne, Channel Islands, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite

The most important education technology in 200 years - What will the surge in free instruction online do to the education business?

9 Varieties of Nutrient-Rich Winter Squash

Sandy Superstorm Development Animation - From University of Delaware using 800 infrared images from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite

Brookside Gardens Pumpkin and Squash Display 2012


In keeping with the Autumn Harvest theme Brookside Gardens has a display of pumpkins and winter squashes. The image at the left is the big picture view of largest display and the slide show below contains close-up views. The colors, shapes and textures are quite diverse. My favorite is the one with cream background and red markings (seen in image 1 and 3 in the slide show).