The Last of 2012

Another year is ending. It is a day to take stock of what has happened in the past year….and put off goal setting (i. e. resolutions) for the 2013 until tomorrow.

I started out 2012 knowing that it would be a transition year - from working for a big corporation to doing whatever I pleased and could afford. Some of my plans for the year did make it to reality. I posted to my blog every day and did a lot of writing ‘practice.’ Career and corporate related reading declined; the other topics increased to fill the gap. Most of my travel was planned early in the year and happened as planned - Shenandoah in the spring, Tennessee in early summer, Colorado in late summer, and New York for fall foliage. All the trips were enjoyable and kept me from getting too comfortable on home turf.

There was serendipity along the way as well: watching the heron cam at Sapsucker Woods for hours, attending a Women in Computing conference in Baltimore, volunteering for the Friends group of a local nature center, planting trees and cutting kudzu in a watershed, taking my first Coursera course and participating in the National Novel Writing month. Toward the end of the year I found myself in Texas caring for an older relative and learning more about hospitals, atrial fibrillation, and hematomas than I ever thought possible.

2012 has lived up to my expectation of it being a transition year. I am going to start thinking more about what my expectation is for 2013 for my blog post tomorrow. My initial thought is that the variety I created for myself in 2012 is something I want to continue!

Windshield Ice Crystals

On our fall foliage trip a few weeks ago - it was 20 degrees as we got ready to set out on the last morning. Ice crystals had formed on the windshield and windows of the car parked in the hotel parking lot in Owego, New York. I took a few pictures. The original were gray scale; the pictures you se in this post have color added by Microsoft PowerPoint.


Even knowing they are ice crystals - I imagine other things -

  • Bundles of grass with thick seed heads
  • A lone cattail - dried and crackling in the wind with birds soaring over the deeper water of a lake
  • A river delta seen from the air
  • A bouquet of wild flowers


What do you see in the ice crystal images?

Glorious Sunlight - October 2012

Sometimes sunlight - or sun and shadow - is what makes an image special. There are three that are like that for me in this post. 

The first is from near Ithaca, New York. It is at the very top of Taughannock Falls from the overlook across the gorge. The light at the edge becomes deep shade so quickly in the grotto behind the cliff edge with the plants growing wherever little bits of soil can accumulate in the rocky ledges.





The second is oak leaves. Have you ever noticed that oak leaves need direct sun to look deep red or yellow in the fall? If they are in shade they simply look green and brown. 







And finally - the third are pine needles. They almost glow in the fall sunlight.

Ten Days of Little Celebrations - October 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:

Sleeping late. The night had gotten cold and we didn’t have the heat coming on yet. It was so wonderful to stay under the warm blankets just a little longer than usual.

A rainy day. I like to work when it is raining. There is no temptation to get outdoors and the little bit of noise from the rain on the roof provides the white noise to keep my focus on whatever I am doing. It’s a day to where concentration comes easily.

Pink mushrooms in the grass. Mushrooms seem to come up very quickly after a rain. These were almost hidden in the grass. At first I thought they were scraps of fall leaves. But from the side or underneath ---- they were this wonder color.

Watkins Glen. A beautiful place any time but I enjoyed it in the fall.

Corning Museum of Glass.  I like glass in just about all its forms. Every time I go to this museum I find some other beautiful piece that I’d failed to notice before.

Home again. I always celebrate the first day back home even if I was only gone a relatively short time.

Writing 3,000 words to start a short story. I’ve signed up to participate in the National Novel Writing Month in November. So - I am busily practicing writing something every day and preparing a chapter by chapter outline to be ready to get 50,000 words written in November. Writing a 3,000 word chunk of a short story in a day was one of my practices that was successful! Hurray!

Sweet potato harvest. The weather dictated that it was time. It’s a lot like unwrapping a present although, in this case, you know there will be sweet potatoes. The surprise is how many there might be and how big are they.

Magnificent maple seen on the drive to the grocery store. Sometimes a path we take frequently has something of temporarily extraordinary beauty: in this case - a tree that has a glorious week every year in the fall….and somehow I always notice it.

Bean soup. Humble fare that was exactly what I wanted on a cool fall day.

Fall near Ithaca, New York

Ithaca, New York is well known for its gorges. We visited two state parks as part of our fall foliage trip. The first was Robert H. Treman State Park where we did the Gorge Trail. There are similarities to Watkins Glen (well-maintained trail, beautiful stone bridges and retaining walls) and contrasts (wider gorge with more sunlight, fewer pot hole pools, no ‘behind the falls’).

There was lots of fall foliage just about everywhere we looked both at Treman State Park and Taughannock Falls State Park.

We viewed Taughannock Falls from the rim this time. There was a thin ribbon of water shown in the middle picture below. The picture in the upper left is from the base of the falls in the winter of 2009 and the one on the right is from the winter of 2010. It won't be long before winter comes to the park again. The walk to the base of the falls is open in the winter because it is relatively flat (i.e. no stairs or inclines that become hazardous in ice and snow).

Finally - we took a drive through Ithaca and I took a few ‘street art’ photos as we stopped in traffic.

Watkins Glen in the Fall

Watkins Glen State Park was the first destination of our fall foliage trip last week. The views in the gorge (the slide show below) were full of water exposed layers of rock, colorful leaves, and water flowing over rock ledges. The sounds of falling water were ever present and, when the wind blew, leaves swirled. As usual, some parts of the path were wet (the price one pays for having a path behind a falls!). It’s a path to take slowly and savor the richness of the natural world of Watkins Glen.

In addition to the gorge and broad views of fall foliage - I enjoyed some closer looks at fall plants - and the tile on the outside of the park building.

Corning Museum of Glass

The only indoor part of our fall foliage trip was in the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. We timed it perfectly - for the few hours of rain during our 3 day trek. The museum allows photography so I enjoyed trying to capture images without too much glare. My favorite item this time was the broken pitcher with the green markings in the upper left of the montage above. Just think what it would have been like originally - glowing white with the bright green markings!

The vase with red carnations and a bird….the stained glass…the cut glass. Glass is certainly a versatile and appealing medium. I also enjoyed seeing another Karen LaMonte glass dress similar to the one I saw in the Tennessee last summer.

The museum also had several Chihuly pieces similar to ones I saw last summer in Dallas. There were also very different pieces - large chunks of colored glass, ribbed bowls, a giant peony of frosted glass. Enjoy the slide show below.

Fallen Leaves - October 2012

We made our annual fall foliage trek this week. This year we made our way from Maryland up through Pennsylvannia and the Watkins Glen/Corning/Ithaca area of New York. I'll post some pictures of the specific areas over the course of the next week.

Today the slide show features leaves already on the ground. They were newly fallen so their colors were still vibrant. Some were wet and that made the colors even more intense. How many trees can you identify in this mix? Maples...poplars...sycamores...beech...sweet gum...and more! Celebrate fall today!

Earrings as Travel Mementos

Spoons, shot glasses or mugs are popular mementoes of travel. I've chosen earrings. They don't have the state or country name emblazoned on them...but they bring back good memories quite well. Some other advantages they have as mementoes:


  • they're small so easy to pack
  • they're relatively inexpensive, and 
  • I get reminded of a travel adventure every time I wear them! 


Some of my favorites are shown below.



From Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico in the past decade...but also reminding me of earlier visits. The first was in the 1970s.








From the Black Hills of South Dakota more than a decade ago. It was an early summer visit: baby buffalo, pink granite outcrops, pine pollen dust everywhere, delicate crystals in a cave, gold mine.









From Corning and Ithaca, New York. Many trips in the past 5 years.








From Falling Water (Frank Lloyd Wright house) in Pennsylvania. It was a road trip taken when my daughter was learning to drive - a stop on the homeward bound part of the loop.











From a very short visit to Key West, Florida with my sister. We were late driving down from Fort Lauderdale but the drive back across the causeway the next afternoon was glorious.









From a quick trip tour of Phoenix, Arizona. It was one of the few times I took an afternoon to tour before catching a plane home from a business meeting. These were from the Heard Museum.









From Stillwater, Oklahoma. These are from a mid-1970s wedding held outdoors. 










From Tucson, Arizona purchased during my last road trip.