Gleanings of the Week Ending December 29, 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:

Daphnia micrograph - a stacked image of a water flea

12 Things to Know about Mistletoe

2013: Hello. Goodbye. - from Richard Watson. How many things on the goodbye list are already gone for you?

6 top health benefits of kale

Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness #3 - my favorite is the next the last one - the backlit leopard

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #32 - the first one is my favorite

Is Your Fridge Eating your Savings?

The Joy of Salt Licking: Contest Turns Farm Animals into Fine Artists - Cows and their salt licks

Geography in the News: Lake-Effect Snow - from National Geographic

Characteristics of US Science and Engineering Doctorates Detailed in New Report

2012: The year in space - My favorite is the Space Shuttle Endeavor making its final journey across the US

2012: The year in weather - from around the world. My favorite picture of this group is the mother of pearl clouds in Scotland 

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.

Snow on Christmas Day!

Dallas, Texas does not get snow frequently and it is usually in the early months of the year rather than December. So - it was cause for celebration and picture taking when it snowed yesterday! Enjoy the slide show of the dusting of the white stuff!

Shared Experience - Mirror Lab

My daughter sent some pictures from a recent tour of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at University of Arizona where she is a graduate student. The ease that we can take and send pictures now makes it so much easier to share experiences across distances.

The picture at the left has some orange stairs toward the right of mirror being constructed; they give some concept of the scale of the place. These are large mirrors! The mirrors are made of borosilicate glass - which is what Pyrex used to be before the 1980s. At the very last their reflective surface will be coated with aluminum.

See the slide show below for other pictures of the lab.

Another Texas Sunrise

After spending my recent nights sleeping on a hospital rollaway - seeing this sunrise on the 22nd after sleeping in a regular bed became a milestone on my transition back to ‘normal’. Somehow being able to walk outside to take the picture rather than seeing the sunrise through a hospital window as I had earlier in the month became an inflection point in my thinking. I could relax a little and savor the day.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 22, 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:

National Park Photography - From National Parks Traveler. There are links to the photographers’ sites.

The Birds of Paradise - video from New Guinea forests of these unusual birds

Flood tools - enter an address, find out the risk of flooding

Why Owls Are So Hoot Right Now - 10 fun facts about owls

Insulin's Role in Body and Brain - infographic

The Scientist’s 2012 Geeky Gift Guide - ideas for the scientists in your life….at the last minute

Blood vessels of a healthy mouse retina - it could be abstract art!

Top Ten Weirdest Stories of 2012 - from National geographic

Life Up Close: The Year’s Best Microscope Views of Biology - my favorite is the second place image of red algae

NASA's Night Photos -photos of the Earth from space at night - the black marble

December Sunrise

The shorter days of November and December provide an excellent chance to catch the sunrise. I captured one in Maryland back in November. The picture in this post is the sunrise from the hospital window in Texas captured yesterday. All three construction cranes were active. In the earlier darkness their motion had been visible but the people working on the building were not visible until the morning light.

I liked the effect of the layer at the ground being very blue … and then the layer of pink. It only lasted for a few minutes and then the layers washed away in the brighter daylight. It was the start of  very good day.



I am missing home today - having not been there at all this month (see hospital experiences blog posts). Nothing is ‘normal’ or ‘planned’ right now. It is hard to focus on more than getting through the next day or two.

My husband sent me a picture of the fog at Centennial Lake yesterday. The almost masked trees across the lake - their reflection in the water - the stones of the boat launch….I know the place well. The image evokes a bubble of calm for me. I’ll find myself looking at it frequently over the next few days when I need to fortify my emotional reserves.

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!

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 15, 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:

Tasty and Gluten Free - consumer tests done as part of the EU project GlutenFree….appetizing and nutritious alternatives

The Next 100 Years Bring New Challenges to Rangeland Science

Why Is the Flu More Common During the Winter Season?

Strange, Beautiful and Unexpected: Planned Cities Seen From Space - Washington DC is the one in this series of photos from the US

Seven Myths of Performance Management - mistakes may prevent benefits

The catfish that strands itself to kill pigeons - (watch the video)

Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness #2 - my favorite is the cheetah cubs

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #31 - my favorite is the Goliath Heron

Lion Numbers Plunge as African Wilderness Succumbs to Human Pressure - no good news for lions

Easy microwave fudge - I am going to try the butterscotch pumpkin spice fudge

5 top health benefits of blueberries - one of my favorite foods

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 8, 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:

Quinoa Craze Inspires North America to Start Growing Its Own - I use quinoa in the place of rice almost all the time now

Exploring Crabtree Falls In The Blue Ridge Parkway - One of those potential places to fit in a spring road trip

Exploring The Parks: Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail - another destination to add to the list for a spring road trip

Cannibal Lobsters - behavior noted in captivity is observed in the wild too

Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness #1 - from Africa - my favorite photo is the elephants and the setting sun

3-for-1 Match for Internet Archive Donations - since I enjoy so many books the Internet Archive has made available online, it is something I support with a donation

12 Healthy Holiday Recipes - from Marlo Thomas

Boucher’s Birding Blog: Winter Birding – The Irruption Begins! - this year is an irruptive year for  birds that are normally in Canada and northerly states in the winter. That means there are already sightings of these in the mid-Atlantic and even some southern states....and a continuation of interesting bird watching through the coming winter

Environmental First Lady Honored by USPS with Forever Stamps - we are still benefiting from her efforts to clean up cities and highways

Stained Glass Cookies - looking for a holiday craft project? These look beautiful

How (Not) to Photograph Prairie Dogs – Part 2 - narrative and photos from The Prairie Ecologist

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.

Hospital Experiences - Part II

This is the second 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.


Modern medicine is full of specialists and it is not always clear which - if any - are caring for the whole patient. There is a “who’s on first” confusion that occurs for the patient and the family as each specialist comes by to assess the patient. Our family eventually started keeping a log to track it all so that we could ask questions rather than simply accept everything that was going on. The family was thus able to point out to the doctors that one medication intended to be calming - was causing heightened anxiety and agitation instead.

The food in this particular hospital is upscale - presented more like a hotel room service than institutional fare: a menu from which to order via phone (the kitchen knows the dietary restrictions as soon as they are told the patient’s name, black trays and plate covers….delivered by people in black uniforms. It is quite an upgrade from the stereotypical hospital food.

On the ‘life goes on’ front - we have finally finished decorating the Christmas tree. Enjoy the photographic show below.

I’ll write about the experience of our family member moving from ICU to a regular room….a move in the right direction.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 1, 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:

Benefits of gratitude -infographic

Lens, retina and optic nerves of a Daddy long-legs - image that bridges science and art

Who (and Where) is Happy? - Richard Watson’s highlighting of a ‘Happiness Planet Index’ graphic originally reported in New Scientist in June

Actin filaments - fancy biological photography

Mesa Verde Park Guide - from National Parks Traveler

Ancient Butterball - domestication of the turkey by the Mayans

Iris of the human eye - photo showing fibers that open and close the pupil

Medical Society Approval for Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing - replacement for amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling?

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #30 - Which is your favorite? Mine is the black-headed heron.

Wildlife with Marvelous Mustaches

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!

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 24, 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:

Studying Granite At Yosemite National Park - a video from Steven Bumgardener about the dominant rock in Yosemite

Willow the White Whale - video of a white humpback whale

The Big Apple's Mayor Makes a Very Scary Video - Bloomberg’s video to help us understand the magnitude of our Carbon Dioxide emissions

harvest pumpkin scones - a recipe from King Arthur Flour

There’s More To Space Than Freeze-Dried Ice Cream - a panel discussion of why space exploration is important

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #29 - my favorite images in this group are the malachite kingfishers and the robin (reminded me the arrival of flocks of robins that always signal spring in our area).

Four Family Cultures of America Identified - From a 3 year study by the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture: the Faithful, the Engaged Progressives, the Detached, and the American Dreamers. A key finding: American parents from all four family cultures want their children to become loving, honest and responsible adults of high moral character (i.e. no ‘death of character’ trend).

Can You Move It And Work It On A Treadmill Desk? - It may not work for a whole day - but what about for part of the day?

Pumpkin Cheesecake - sounds yummy

Women in IT: How deep is the bench? - Not as much as you would think. In 2011 women made up 57% of the US professional workforce but held just 2% of the jobs in professional computing occupations. Women graduates feeding the pipeline for computing professions peaked in 1985 at 37%; in 2010, it was down to 18%.

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!

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.