Ten Little Celebrations – September 2019

September was a transition month…the end of the Wings of Fancy exhibit and the gearing up for the Howard County Conservancy’s fall field trips for county schools. That overall theme carried over to almost all the little celebrations I’m featuring in this month’s post.

Beginning yoga. I was surprised that I could do some of the poses with relative ease….and others with a little practice. It’s surprising how quickly the benefits begin to be noticeable.

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Question Mark Butterfly. I was thrilled to notice the butterfly in the mulch at Brookside Gardens when its wings were open. I would have never seen it had its wings been closed. I celebrated a second time after I got home and figured out what kind of butterfly it was.

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Mount Vernon. What a place for a volunteer appreciation day…and the weather was perfect! I celebrated the place and the people I was meeting all day long.

Longwood Gardens. The place is always special – because of what we see there during our visit and the memories of other visits.

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Toad near the stream. There are always those serendipity events that make an ordinary hike extraordinary.  During one of our training sessions at Belmont we hiked to the small stream….and were finding mushrooms and moss and macroinvertebrates….and then a small toad jumped into our midst! Being naturalists…we all celebrated.

Large monarch caterpillar. My milkweed didn’t have many caterpillars this year…but one morning when I looked there was a large one (obviously had been there eating). I celebrated that he was probably big enough to make a chrysalis.

Casemaker caddisfly. We’ve had almost no rain for the past month or so and the stream was low…but we found several casemaker caddisfly larvae! They looked like a small clump of debris at first….and then they moved. It’s good to see living things in the water even when there is not much water around.

Carrot cake. I was celebrating something but the carrot cake itself overwhelmed whatever I was celebrating. Yummy!

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Wings of Fancy. The next to the last volunteer shift in the Wings of Fancy exhibit was a light day for visitors and I celebrated some quiet time with the butterflies.

Day at Little Patuxent River. High schoolers in the river….interested and focused. The water was low but they found some macroinvertebrates and they were so organized in the chemical tests of water quality (my station for this field trip) that we finished everything with a little time to spare. Celebrating high schoolers!

Ten Little Celebrations – August 2019

August 2019 was busy – but not as overwhelming as July. I savored the recovery time before the busy fall field trip season volunteering and my own travels. It was still easy to find little celebrations this month.

For three weeks of the month, I celebrated two mornings with Howard County Conservancy summer campers. What great experiences for me and (I hope) for the campers. Fossils, water and flight….interesting themes of high interest to the 5-12 years old groups. I could have counted 6 little celebrations but opted to count each week as 1 larger celebration since I had so many other things to celebrate.

Celebrating Coursera course Bugs 101: Insect-Human Interactions from University of Alberta (which I hope to finish by the end of the month). It was wonderful to have time to dig into an online course again.

Montessori teachers in the Wings of Fancy exhibit. A group of Montessori teachers in training came through the exhibit one morning (when it wasn’t too hot) and I celebrated conversations and that the method is still popular. My daughter certainly thrived in that type of pre-school.

Finding lots of botanical print books. Just when I think I am about to run out of online botanical books, I find a lot more…..and celebrate.

Getting a new laptop ordered. My old laptop is almost out of warranty and, even though it has a new battery and seems to be working well, I ordered a new one. I’m very excited about getting it all set up by the end of the month.

Flavorful cantaloupe. The CSA had very sweet cantaloupes this year. I celebrated melons that were as good as my memories of childhood cantaloupe from my grandparents’ farm.

Office rearrangement. I celebrated a new arrangement of my office furniture and general tidiness of my home office…in preparation for a new laptop.

Photographing a living cicada. Usually the cicada’s I photograph are not living – or are too cold to move. I celebrated seeing one fly into a tree and photographing it…while it was singing.

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Ten Little Celebrations – July 2019

July 2019 was a busy month with two weeks of the months a way from home and volunteering. We’re in the thick of summer!

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4th of July. There is the holiday celebrated with fireworks and food and family early in the month. I was in Texas rather than at home.

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Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. It’s thrilling to see a heron that I don’t see all that often…a serendipity sighting during a hike to celebrate.

Easy drive through Arkansas. I celebrated that the road through Arkansas on my way back to Maryland from Texas was a lot better than I expected – good road, no construction, no accidents.

Marigolds. I savored the flowers available for cutting when I go to pick up my CSA share every week. Marigolds are among my favorites….but the sunflowers and amaranth and zinnas are good too.

Pittsburgh to Springfield MO in a day. It was a long drive with my husband and I caravanning. We both celebrated when we arrived – tired but otherwise unscathed.

At home again. After being away for 2 weeks (not concurrently) I had several days celebrating just being at home again.

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Prius Prime. I celebrated my car that has excellent range and is easy to drive. It still feels a little new and it’s 2.5 years old! These recent road trips have added quite a few miles.

Surviving a very hot Wings of Fancy shift. I celebrated that having something cold at each break (grapes, popsicle, Gatorade) and drinking lots of water enabled me to be fine at the end of the shift….and even relaxed in my air conditioned car on the way home.

Summer campers making butterfly Zentangles. Celebrating sharing an activity with campers….enjoying their creations as much as they did.

Toad under the oak tree. There is a toad that is making its home in the day lily forest under the oak tree. I celebrated that our yard is providing suitable habitat (there was a very small black rat snake there too…which I am choosing to celebrate too…but I didn’t take time to get a picture).

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July 4th Fireworks

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I was in Carrollton TX on the 4th of July. It was short walk from my parents’ house to a good viewing area for the city’s fireworks. Other people had the same idea so there was a community block party-like atmosphere. Somebody brought a boom box to provide music. My sister had popsicles to keep us hydrated and cool. Everyone was ready by 9:30 PM when the fireworks started. We had carried folding chairs with us…but I ended up not using mine because I was taking pictures. My camera was on a monopod and I used the ‘fireworks’ setting. It’s not a setting that can shoot in quick succession because it knits together several images in the camera. The result is pictures that show a lot of color. I also liked some of the pictures where I managed to ‘move’ during the time it was capturing the multiple images…the streaks and squiggles look like abstract art. The best pictures are included in this post.

The electrical wires are sometimes visible in the pictures – sometimes not. They were always there.

After the fireworks show was over…we walked back to the house….then heard fireworks again. Somehow the finale had been delayed. Aargh! No pictures.

Ten Little Celebrations – June 2019

There was a lot going on in June – the last of the spring field trip season with Howard County Conservancy, the Wings of Fancy shifts, helping my daughter move from Pennsylvania to Missouri….and there were a lot of little celebrations along the way.

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Springfield Art Museum – The first visit to a museum is always the best…because everything is new. This one was no exception….and it was free!

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Luna moth – Finding a Luna Moth at a rest stop in Missouri was the high point of a long day of driving toward home. I celebrated that it was there….and that it was a pleasant surprise in an unexpected place.

First week of CSA – I am always thrilled to get the fresh produce from the Gorman Farm Community Supported Agriculture. Every meal I prepare with the CSA veggies is a celebration.

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Frogs at Mt Pleasant – Finding the frogs in the small pond is like working a puzzle…you look carefully and finally see….and celebrate. I celebrated along with my hiking groups of elementary aged students too.

Perfect field trip weather at Belmont – I was braced for June field trips to be overly hot…but the weather for all of them at Belmont was near perfect. The pre-schoolers at Belmont celebrated being outdoors and I did too.

My summer office – I moved my home office to a room that doesn’t get direct sun in the afternoon (so doesn’t heat up) and celebrated that the new location provided a better vantage point to the bird feeder while I am working at my computer.

Kombucha – My new food find of the month was mint lemonade kombucha from Wegmans. I didn’t drink the whole bottle all at once…wanted to savor it so I had about 1/3 each day for 3 days. Yummy! I might not get it every week…maybe only for a celebration.

1st monarch butterfly and caterpillar sighting of the year – I celebrated a Monarch butterfly on some milkweed at Brookside Gardens and then a Monarch caterpillar on another milkweed nearby. It’s always a milestone for the butterflies to make it Maryland and start laying eggs. The milkweed is blooming and sweet…plenty of food for the caterpillars.

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1st Zentangle® class is history – I celebrated leading my first Zentangle class…and the tiles created by the students.

Fledglings – I celebrated seeing several fledglings come to our birdfeeder over the past few weeks: downy woodpecker, titmouse, Carolina chickadee, and catbird. Our maple tree seems to be a popular place for many of these birds….or maybe they just come through that tree from the forest and return to the forest the same way.

Ten Little Celebrations – May 2019

May has been a busy month with travel and prep for more travel…lots of volunteer gigs and home maintenance too. As usual – it was easy to identify something to celebrate each and every day. Here are 10 that I’m highlighting for the month.

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Plantain chips. I made my own plantain chips using a plantain from the conservatory at Brookside Gardens. It was a spring celebration of Thanksgiving – good food from a local harvest.

Caterpillar on the hickory. I was hiking with second graders looking at habitats…and what lives in them (paricularly insects). When we came to a young hickory tree that had been planted on earth day, it had some holes in the leaves. It was a small enough tree that we could carefully look under the leaves…and we found a caterpillar! It was one of those serendipity momets…the children were pleased with their find and I celebrated sharing their experience.

Clean car mats. My husband and I both took the mats out of our cars and hosed them off – no more salt and mud that had accumulated over the winter! We picked a sunny day so they could mostly dry out in the driveway after we hosed them off. I am celebrating a cleaner car interior.

Good weather for 4th grade field trip. Earlier in May we were having a lot of rain…and I wondered how the back to back field trips were going to dodge the deluge. At this point I am celebrating not having a single rainy day field trip (even thouh I am prepared with a super rain poncho). The 4th grade field trip was a close call….it didn’t rain and we managed to step around the mud puddles.

A whole day at home. Between volunteer gigs and travel, there were very few days that I could just be at home. When it happened – I celebrated the day to recouperate.

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Horseshoe Crabs. I had never seen horse shoe crabs in action like I saw in Cape May. They are recovering after overharvesting….an ancient creature filling its niche in the web of life. Something to celebrate.

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Light on flowers. I missed most of the azaleas blooming this spring…but managed to get some spotlighted in the dappled light along the path near the stream at Brookside Gardens. I celebrated the photographic experience.

Pre-schoolers are Belmont. I’ve only managed to do one field trip with pre-schools so far this season. What fun they are! I talked to them about trees. We pretended to start out as seeds and grow into a forest…then have the breeze ruffle out leaves (fingers)…and then we talked about trees and wind. Some groups fell down in a heap when the really strong winds came! It’s easy to celebrate the outdoors with pre-schoolers.

Rainy day with butterflies – Mother’s Day. It rained on Mother’s Day and the morning started slow in the Wings of Fancy conservatory – the butterflies weren’t very active and there were not early visitors. I celebrated by taking some butterfly pictures with my phone. And then the ramp up of activity began. It became a busy morning.

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White morpho butterflies. The brilliant irridescent blue morphs are probably the most popluarl butterflies in the Wings of Fancy exhibit. I celebrated the butterflies that are new or not quite as common. The white morphos are one of the special ones I’m celebrating this year.

Ten Little Celebrations – April 2019

April has been a busy month – only at home for a week out of the month and not all at the same time. There was plenty to celebrate with spring in full swing and the travel to see it in different places.

Certified Zentangle® Trainer (CZT) class. There were so many perspectives of the CZT class to celebrate: the beauty of the creations everyone was making, the conversations, the food…the challenge of being a student…the Zen.

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Train ride home. I don’t go many places where taking the train is feasible…but the CZT class was one of them. I celebrated the low stress hours going home…a fitting finale to the class.

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4th and 5th grade field trips. The early April field trips happened with great weather and the students enjoying being outdoors to learn about the Patapsco heritage (land, water, and rocks) and BioBlitz. It’s always inspiring to see their curiosity and enthusiasm --- celebrating a spring field trip.


Getting to Dallas. I had to travel to Dallas quickly and it was easier than a thought it would be. And I celebrated that I was less stressed by the rapid change in plans (maybe the Zentangle class providing an added benefit.

Spring days. Noticing the rapidly developing blossoms of spring is fodder for many celebrations – oxalis is probably one of my favorites right now. It blooms when the sun is shining!

Rainy day (spent indoors). After busy days – having a rainy day spent indoors is something to celebrate…with homemade soup for lunch!

Josey Ranch Pocket Prairie. A little bit of prairie – carefully tended by volunteers – in a Dallas suburb! Right now it is a celebration of spring wildflowers.

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Cedar waxwings. Birds are migrating and there are serendipity sightings of birds that don’t stay around the area long. I celebrated seeing a small flock of cedar waxwings last week.

Botanical reminders of my grandmother. Many flowers in my parents’ Carrollton yard were planted by my grandmother…good memories to celebrate.

Home again. Providence, Rhode Island to home to Carrollton, Texas to home to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Smith Island to home. I like to travel…but coming home is celebratory too.

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The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. "Zentangle" is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.

Ten Little Celebrations – March 2019

March had increased activity from February – a nice ramp up to the busy months of the spring field trip season of April, May and June. It was easy to find little celebrations all during the month.

A Creative Live course on bird photography – I always celebrate courses that hone what I already know…and show me something new that I want to try.

Getting new glasses – I had skipped getting new glasses last year – thinking that my prescription had not changed enough. It’s worth celebrating to see better again.

Snow on the ground but no on the streets – I celebrated a beautiful snowy day when the streets kept enough warmth to remain clear. It’s one of those instances where you can enjoy the scenery and not worry about hazardous driving conditions.

Cleaning out stuff – We donated two carloads of stuff (a bicycle was a big part of one load. I celebrated making progress on cleaning out accumulated things that we no longer need.

Then there are signs of spring – appearing throughout the month – and celebrated for the breaking of winter’s hold on the landscape:

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Miniature daffodils blooming in the front flower bed that bring back memories of my mother-in-law that bought and planted the bulbs in another garden 30 years ago.

Tulip poplar and cherry buds brought inside and opening a few weeks before the buds outside open.

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Doves mating on the deck railing.

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Frogs eggs in the little pool at Mt. Pleasant.

A spring-like afternoon – full of sunlight and a warmer temperature.

The biggest celebration of the month was the news that both my daughter and son-in-law have faculty positions beginning next fall in the same place! It’s quite an accomplishment for them to both get their PhD and then do a couple years as post docs…then this milestone.  

Snow Day

Years ago, when my daughter was in school, I almost always took off when the schools closed for snow – either with vacation or make up hours or working at home. Now that I’m retired, I am still doing it. Having a snow day is a mini-holiday with traditions. My daughter knew all the best sledding slops in the neighborhood. I enjoyed being outside too although it was usually to shovel the drive or take a walk. The snow day last week did not require shoveling since the forecast for the next day was temperature in the 50s. So - I took a walk. I bundled up in lined boots, snow pants, coat with a hood, scarf with a hood and gloves. I took my cell phone and small camera with me – deciding not to take the larger camera since it was still snowing, and I couldn’t shield it inside my coat easily.

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There were about 3 inches on the ground already when I opened the garage door and headed out.

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The fire hydrants in the neighborhood looked festive with their burden of snow.

My destination was the water retention pond. When I got there the old cattail stalks were catching snow and the still parts of the pond were skimming over with ice. The temperature was in the low 30s.

There were two pairs of ducks at the pond! The surprise (for me) were  Hooded Mergansers.  

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I’ve seen more of them this year in our area and I wonder if their numbers are increasing. Were the pair was looking for a good nesting area? I don’t think our water retention pond would be a good place for ducklings although the pair were occasionally diving and (maybe) finding something to eat in the pond.

The other pair were Mallards. They are dabblers and I noticed they both had snow collecting on their backs since they don’t go completely under water for edibles.

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I headed home. The pan and spatula to collect snow to make snow ice cream was in the garage to cool down. I filled the pan to overflowing then left it to prepare the other ingredients: peppermint candy puffs in a Ziploc broken to bits with a hammer and vanilla soy creamer (it has sugar and vanilla already…so it reduces the ingredient list). I got out the electric mixer and big bowl.

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Then I went out to get the snow. The bowl is so large that it holds the whole pan of snow. I added the peppermint candy and creamer…then beat it all together. The snow was drier than expected so I added more creamer and vanilla coconut almond milk to get the consistency I wanted for the ice cream.

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My husband and I each had two large servings to finish it off in one sitting. It was a yummy lunch.

Ten Little Celebrations – February 2019

February is usually a quiet month for me – not much going on. February 2019 was dominated by the birding after the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in January, family visits, and celebration of the staff where I volunteer. It seemed like a busier than usual February.

Conversations with my daughter – I celebrated my daughter being more available recently. Seeing her forging ahead in her career and life is something to savor. It feels good to see how wonderfully independent and caring she is these days.

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Icy day – staying indoors – Ice is much worse than snow but has its own beauty. This one was easy for me to celebrate since I didn’t need to get out and none of our trees were damaged.

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Snow day – What’s not to like about a snowy day if I can stay at home. Since I am retired…staying at home when I want to is easy. I celebrate every snow day – taking pictures and making snow ice cream. On our most recent snow day, the weather was warming to 50 degrees the next day, so we didn’t even shovel the drive way.

Spring-like day – And then we had a breezy day in the 50s. I celebrated that this will become the norm in a few short weeks.

Books – On all the cold days, I enjoyed good books on my PC, on my iPad and regular books. Celebrating all the forms that books come in these days.  

Cleaning out progress – We have so many things in our house that we no longer need or use but getting motivated to collect and then donate, recycle, or trash things is challenging. I am celebrating that I am making some progress…building the will-power to continue the trend.

Howard County Conservancy staff – The volunteers held a big celebration for the staff of our favorite non-profit this month. The staff makes volunteering a pleasure and a shared celebration is one way we show it.

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Downy woodpecker – I was home in cold, snowy, or icy weather and enjoyed birding from my office window. I celebrated many of the sightings…the downy woodpecker the most. It’s small, it’s hyper, and it seems to enjoy both our trees and our feeder.

Pink egg salad – I discovered that adding a few slices of beet to hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise in the small food processor makes beautiful, spreadable egg salad…celebration worthy food.

Headspace app – I subscribed to the Headspace app and am doing a meditation prompt every day. I am celebrating how easy it is to get started and keep going with this app.

Ten Little Celebrations – January 2019

As usual – it is easy for me to find little celebrations every day…and here are the top 10 for January 2019.

Getting rid of ‘stuff’ – My husband and I celebrated taking two loads of ‘stuff’ to the landfill (trash and recycling) and donation. I feel like we are finally making progress in getting rid of things we no longer need. We managed to fix 4 floor lamps that we thought were broken…just before we were set to take them to the landfill.

Wedding anniversary – My husband and I usually have a quiet celebration when our wedding anniversary comes around just after Christmas and the beginning of the year. We’re always pleased with ourselves for becoming long-time marrieds….but realize that it has been easier for us than it is for so many others.

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A morning hike at Mt. Pleasant – It was muddy but otherwise an excellent day for a winter hike. I enjoyed getting outdoors.

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New hiking boots – I celebrated getting new hiking boots. The lining of my 4-year-old boots was tearing. I bought the same brand (Merrell) but waterproof and a little wider to leave more room for bunions and thick socks.

No cavities – I went to the dentist for a checkup and celebrated ‘no cavities’ or anything else that required follow-up! It’s been that way for the past few appointments…and I’m glad my teeth seem to be OK and stable.

Anticipating Zentangle class – I registered for a Zentangle class scheduled for late March and started working through the pre-work….what a joy and worth celebrating both the tiles I am creating now and the anticipation of a great experience in the class.

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Walking in snow at Belmont – I celebrated the beauty of snow on the landscape….and that my boots didn’t leak!

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Witch hazel blooming – What a thrill to find the burst of color in the browns, dark greens, and whites of a winter day! I like that the petals are like little streams as well…. appropriate for a celebration.

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Peppermint snow ice cream – Yum! Yes, I was very cold after I ate it but is was well worth it…celebration-worthy food!

Macro photograph collection – I celebrated the macro photographs I’d made over the past year or so as I prepared charts for a presentation. I have enjoyed the clip on macro lens more than any other photography accessory!

Brookside Lights

Last week, we managed to get over to see the holiday lights at Brookside Gardens. They are worth at least one evening walkabout between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. It’s a family tradition for many people in our area of Maryland. There are things that stay the say…some things that are new...every time we go. This year there was another frog sculpture (with a butter fly and little frog) in the visitor’s center; I hadn’t noticed it before.

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The caterpillar tunnel was the same near the entrance to the gardens just outside the visitor center.

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The spider web and rainbow with lightning and clouds with raindrops were also repeats from previous years.

I always like the dragon (mom and baby). In previous years they spewed smoke.

Another new display: saguaro cactus light shapes.

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The butterfly and lights on a water feature (lights instead of water for the winter) were oldies but goodies.

I also like the spotlight on the sphere sculpture that I like so well during the day. The irregularities in the rock are more visible with the shadows. This might be my favorite picture from the whole evening!

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I created a slideshow with my other favorites. I like the nature theme for the lights -  flowers and moon and trees shapes, insects, tall stalks, a snake and ants and a fox, mushrooms. Sometimes I am not sure what it’s supposed to be…but it’s always fun to guess.

It’s also fun to listen to parents interacting with their young children. I noticed a toddler almost in front of us walking across the sidewalk; his father said “Don’t sit in the mulch” and the child promptly took a few more steps, turned around, and sat down in the mulch. He was helped up…dusted off in the back (it was cold so he was well bundled up). Everyone laughed…a good time!

Happy New Year 2019

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A brand-new year…a beginning…full of potential. I got up to see the sunrise this morning; it’s become a minor tradition and this year I set an alarm to make sure I didn’t miss it. This time of year, it isn’t hard to be up and about before sunrise!

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There could be some big changes this year with my daughter make a career move that requires relocation, elderly family members in precarious health, and me wanting to reduce ‘stuff’ that is filling our house. Enter another tradition for the first day of the year: a bit of introspection…making some decisions about what I want to discontinue, continue or start. It’s an evolution of the tradition to make resolutions – which rarely meant very much.  Everything on the list needs to be something important, achievable and measurable. I’m having trouble coming up with something to discontinue in 2019!

YE Thinking: Favorite Images

Looking for a way to summarize my year in pictures for this last post of 2019, I selected 3 favorite photos from each month – not an easy task for me. Many of them are from at home…some from other places close to home…then Socorro NM and Carrolton Tx. It’s been a good year! Enjoy the slide show….celebrating 2018!

December on the Trolley Trail

The Howard County Conservancy organized a winter hike for its volunteers last week on the Trolley Trail (Trolley Trail #9 near Ellicott City/Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum). We were celebrating the end of another fall field trip season. About 40 people met in the Banneker parking lot and headed out.

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The connecting trail from Banneker to the Trolley Trail was through the forest and very muddy. There was an Osage orange tree that had dropped its fruit recently. Most of the fruit look pristine. When I got home, I did some research and discovered that the fruit is not eaten except sometimes by squirrels. One theory is that the fruit was eaten by large mammals that are now extinct (ground sloth, mammoth, mastodon) and that these animals would have spread the seed. Now the tree is propagated by people for its wood and as windbreaks.

We headed north on the Trolley Trail first. I didn’t take many pictures because I was so busy trying to keep up with the group. It was the same the last time I was on the Trolley Trail in 2015 with my Master Naturalist class (posted about it here).

There was some stream restoration (and maybe something else since there is infrastructure like sewer lines in the streambed) that was active next to the trail.  The stream did look more scoured than the last time we were in the area.

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We reached the end of the trail at the north and retraced our steps…passing the trails to Banneker to continue south on the Trolley Trail.

We got to the part of the trail that was damaged in the last flood. Repair work was not complete, so we stopped before getting down to Ellicott City; I turned around and took a picture back along the trail. The asphalt of the trail was damaged by the flood; the asphalt edges were uneven, and pieces were missing.

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There were bright green Christmas fens on the cliff to the right

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A little further back up the hill, winter trees looked good against the sky. It’s easy to pick out the sycamores this time of year.

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A waterfall was scenic rather than roaring. I thought more about what it must have been like during the flood to sweep away asphalt a little further down.

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We’ve gotten so much rain this fall/early winter that the moss is thick and bright green – like a carpet.

We made the muddy trek back up to Banneker to retrieve our cars…and head for lunch with healthy appetites.

HCC’s Natural Holiday Sale

I’m catching up on some posts for the events early this month. Back on the 1st of the month, the Howard County Conservancy hosted their annual Natural Holiday Sale. Volunteering in the kitchen for the sale has become a tradition for me; it’s a great way to start the Christmas season. I keep the big coffee urn suppled with Russian Tea (Tang, instant tea, lemonade mix, spices) and restock the trays of homemade cookies for shoppers. The table requires near constant attention to look bountiful and festive.

This year the garden club added suet decorations to their holiday arrangements. I bought two garlands and a large pine cone. My deck will be the most decorated part of my house – all for the birds!

The bins of natural materials and glue guns were a big hit as they are every year…lots of creativity…center pieces that tell a story. See some pictures of the event from 2016 here; it changes a little every year but the cookies and Russian Tea and critter creations are a constant!

Ten Little Celebrations – November 2018

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At the beginning of November, we had a short burst of color before the leaves fell off the trees. I celebrated a glorious fall day…wishing the season had not been so short this year.

HoLLIE (Howard County Legacy Leadership Institute for the Environment) graduation was this month after accumulating enough volunteer hours since finishing the class last spring.

And then came the Festival of the Cranes with so many little celebrations:

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Seeing sandhill cranes in flight – being close enough to their fly out to hear the first few high-power flaps of their wings.

Seeing two barn owls circle above the field where I was standing. It was a first for me….so beautiful and ghost-like.

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Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. It was my first visit to the place and it’s hard to choose the high point maybe it was the screwbean mesquite the herd of pronghorn playing a running game with our caravan or seeing a shrike with a meal.

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Hooded Mergansers. It was not the first time I had seen the birds (there were some on a local (Maryland) pond we visited during our 5th HoLLIE class). But they were not displaying like the birds we saw during the Festival of the Cranes.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. What an amazing place….and great hosts to the Festival of the Cranes. I am already planning to go again! There are so many sights and sounds to celebrate here.

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Home again. I celebrate returning every time I am away for longer than a couple days.

Bald Eagle seen from my office window. The morning we left to drive to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, a bald eagle flew over the forest behind our house while I was shutting down my laptop for the road trip. It continued over our house. Since I saw a pair of eagles soaring a nearby shopping center recently, I think perhaps their nest is somewhere in the forest along the Middle Patuxent River near us. What a way to start the Thanksgiving holiday!

Thanksgiving….celebrating the day…realizing how much I am thankful for.

New Mexico Earrings

There are still more Festival of the Cranes posts to come, but I am taking a break for a few days to do post on other topics….and to do a little history of our travels to New Mexico via my earring collection.

I have some New Mexico earrings from as far back as the 1970s but I’m going to focus this post on the ones I’ve collected this century.

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I bought the pair of black and silver M design (like a pottery shard) at Bandelier National Monument in 2005. My husband, daughter, and I had met my parents in Albuquerque and used that as a base to see north central New Mexico: Santa Fe, Bandelier, Petroglyphs, and Chaco Canyon.

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On a road trip between Dallas and Tucson, we stopped at White Sands National Monument in 2013. I posted about the barn swallows and yuccas!

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During our first experience with Festival of the Cranes back in 2016, I bought some radio telescope earrings at the Very Large Array Radio Telescope,

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Two pairs of earrings including some stylized cranes at Vertu, the local artist store in Socorro,

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And three more pair in the Albuquerque airport.

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I bought four pair of earrings this year during our second experience at Festival of the Cranes. Starting at 12 o’clock position: there are the polished stones purchased at Vertu (they are thin enough to not be heavy), the dragonfly in cattails at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge gift shop , the bird flying over water and mountains from a shop on Socorro’s square, and the mosaic type earrings at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge made by an artist from the Santo Domingo Pueblo.

Overall – I don’t remember the years all that well (I must look back at notes), but I easily remember where I bought them. Earrings are still the best keepsake for me to buy, pack, and enjoy – savoring the memory from the time I bought them every time I see them.

Festival of the Cranes – part 1

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We enjoyed our second Festival of the Cranes at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio NM last week. Registration opened in early September and we decided quickly on the sessions we wanted…were early enough to get into them all. My criteria for sessions was: 1) something that we couldn’t easily do on our own or 2) a topic new to us or 3) something we enjoyed so much last time that we wanted to do it again!

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A few weeks before our departure, I started a packing list color coded by packing location and then marked off as it was packed.

We knew the early mornings to see the fly out of the snow geese and cranes would be very cold…so lots of layers and hand/foot warmers. There were several days that we needed to carry lunch so we took an insulated bag. There was camera gear too; the tripods were in the checked bags – cameras in the carry on.  I took three pieces of luggage: a suitcase that would be checked, a rolling backpack, and a duffel. My husband took four (two that were checked).

We didn’t forget anything…still have some ideas to do better packing next time.

I’ll be posting about the festival over the next few weeks. I took over 5,000 pictures in all because I set my camera on continuous shooting to capture motion (and I took some video too).

Blog posts about our 2016 experience of Festival of the Cranes: