Green Tomato Salsa

This is my year to make green salsa. I posted about the tomatillo salsa I made back in August. This month – it’s was with green tomatoes. It is more golden than green…but just as tasty. As usual for my culinary experiments, I was prompted by getting a key ingredient in my Community Supported Agriculture share:

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Green tomatoes (3 of them…about a pound). I’d also gotten some of the other ingredients: a red jalapeno pepper, some medium ‘heat’ peppers, and 3 garlic cloves. I put everything in the food processor with some ginger preserves, a little salt and cracked pepper, and 3 tablespoons of lime juice…pulsed a few times. Then it cooked for 15-20 minutes. Yummy!

I used it as a savory side for grilled chicken, a salad dressing, and in lieu of stir fry sauce. It didn’t last long!

Summer Camp Volunteering- Week 4

The theme for last week’s Howard Count Conservancy’s summer camps was ‘Friends in Flight – Bees, Birds, Bats.’ For the activity at Mt Pleasant – I added ‘Butterflies’ to the Friends in Flight list – playing a Monarch Migration game (instructions here) with each of the three groups. The numbered and laminated cards were taped to colorful cones and mug box dice were used for the cards that needed them. The route of cones was set up on the bricked path in the Honors Garden because the grass was so wet everywhere.

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All the campers discovered that there are a lot of hazards along with way during migration….and most played the game about 3 times. We tallied the successful and unsuccessful migrations…with the unsuccessful being slightly ahead!

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At Belmont, I started the Zentangle® session with a discussion of blue jays and their feathers using some pictures.

Then the two groups of campers made mono-tangles with a feather-like pattern. For the first group (skewed toward the older in the 5-12 years old range), I used 3” square coasters and a finer point pen than they had used before. The younger group used Apprentice tiles and the Sharpie ultra-fine pens. Some, but not all, of the campers had been in the previous Zentangle sessions. Overall – it was an impressive week!

It was the last week of summer camp. I’ll take a little break – but am already looking forward to the fall field trips ramping up soon.

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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.

Summer Camp Volunteering – week 2

The theme for last week’s Howard Count Conservancy’s summer camps was ‘Fantastic Beasts.’ I spent a morning at Mt. Pleasant and the next morning at Belmont. At Mt. Pleasant there were three groups of campers….45 minutes for each. I used the dinosaur and mammal track rock found at NASA Goddard (saw it back when I was in the HOLLIE program) to initiate the conversation about extinct animals and fossils. There were some fossil shells from Calvert Cliffs and some of the campers had been there to explore themselves. I had on my ammonite shaped earrings too.

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Then for some action: Two pans of water, a measuring tape and white board. A person put one foot into each pan (shoes on) and then stepped out and walked normally. The measurement team (usually two campers) measured heal print to heal print to determine the walking stride length. We measured the walking stride of the tallest and shortest in each group (and then everyone else because everyone wanted to know their stride length…or game it and take extra-long steps!). In the oldest group of campers, we measured the running stride (heel first and on toes). It was a great activity to further explore what information can be gleaned from tracks.

We transitioned into evidence of animals living today with some whelk shells and egg cases found on a beach. Some campers were surprised that the whelks were animals that still live in the ocean along the east coast of the US.

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One of the junior counselors had participated in a dinosaur dig in Montana…and shared some pictures for her adventure with the campers.

It was a busy 45 minutes!

At Belmont, there were two groups of campers making Zentangle® tiles. I introduced the session using the NASA Goddard rock, the welk shells and my ammonite earrings….and then showed them patterns for beasts. The first group (younger) made octopus/jelly fish and tracks. The second group experimented with an ammonite type pattern, tracks and shells. The theropod tracks were the most popular. Many made some big therapod tracks and then some small ones (moms with babies). A variation from one camper: a therapod track….then a blank area where the therapod flew….then more tracks. One camper made mammal tracks. Both groups enjoyed adding colors after they made their patterns with the black Sharpie ultrafine pens.

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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.

Zentangle® Butterflies at Summer Camp

I enjoyed making Zentangle butterflies with about 70 Howard County Conservancy summer campers last week. They were in 5 groups and 2 locations. The first three groups were done outdoors on picnic tables set up with blotter papers and pen/pencil in holders to keep them from rolling away. There was a little breeze, but the pen/pencil holder had just enough weight to keep everything in place.

I attached my sample butterflies to a plant hook and a pad of paper to use for pattern demonstration on an easel. This was the calm before the first group of campers arrived.

The campers overall were ages 5-12. The oldest of the three groups came first…the youngest were last. I presented different patterns to each group as we talked about butterfly body parts and symmetry. The campers were focused and were very creative both with the patterns (and making up their own) as well as adding color. I took a picture of the creations from each group (click on the image below to see a larger version).

The following day, I did two groups at the second location. This time I was indoors and used the projection technique with the iPad camera (that I had used during my session with the camp counselors back in early June) to demonstrate the patterns. The youngest group came first followed by the older group.  I corralled the butterflies for a picture at the end of each session (although one was missing from the older group and I ended up taking that picture later).

Overall, I was pleased with these sessions and I am getting better as a CZT as I gain experience. For example – the blotter papers get used for additional artwork rather than just blotter papers and then the next camper comments on what is on their blotter! The different age groups have different types of challenges which I will get better at detecting…but they all produced beautiful and interesting Zentangle butterflies!

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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.

Zentangle® - June 2019

I had a lot of tiles to choose from in June….it was the usual challenge to limit myself to 30 – June having only 30 days.

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I did a series of tiles with the phicops pattern for the whole tile – using it like a string for other patterns. All of these were physical tiles.

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And then there were all the others – the black tiles are digital (iPad)…which shows that about half my picks for June were digital…half physical.

I’ll be doing a several road trips in July. It will be an adventure in Zentangle-on-the-go. I anticipate that I’ll create tiles at the beginning or end of the day….unless there is a substantial storm and I stop to wait it out.

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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.

Leading a Zentangle® Class

I applied what I learned at the Certified Zentangle Trainer class (taken back in April) with a group of summer camp counselors last week…a prelude to working with the summer campers in a few weeks. The counselors were in their pre-camp training session. Most of the camp with be outdoor activities but on very rainy or hot days….creating Zentangle tiles can be a great option.

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I prepared for the session by developing a method to project my work on a screen (iPad on a tripod, Camera app, connector to allow display of the iPad screen on any projector/screen via HDMI cable) and making folded paper ‘trays’ to keep the pencil and pen together (not rolling around the table).

I also made variations of the tile I would coach them to make during the first session.

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The session with the camp counselors took a little over 30 minutes in all….and look what they created! Now one took an after lunch nap…they were all too focused on creating the patterns on their tile.

I am always impressed by class mosaics…how every tile expresses the individuality of the person that created it.

After the session we had a feedback session and agreed that the apprentice tiles (4.5 inches square) should be used for the younger campers….that the smaller ones (3.5 inches square) might appeal to the older campers that want to create tiles with more detail. Allowing more than 30 minutes would be good 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.

Mt Pleasant Field Trips

Schools didn’t end until June 21st in our area so the Howard County Conservancy spring field trips were still happening into mid-June! As usual, I volunteered for field trips at both Mt Pleasant and Belmont. Today I’ll share some pictures I gleaned from before the school buses arrive at Mt. Pleasant….tomorrow I’ll do the same for Belmont.

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In late May – I noticed how lush everything was looking: the sweetbay magnolias, the blue flags, peonies, the new plantings around the flower pot people, and the trees along the gravel road toward Montjoy Barn.

By early June the flowers in the Honors Garden, like the columbines, were blooming.

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But the big draw of the Honors Garden – for me and for the children on field trips – were the green frogs in the pool. I would talk to the students before we came near the garden about walking very quietly…not talking…as we approached the pool so that we would see frogs. And I challenged them to find more than 4 frogs (or however many had been seen with my previous group). One group claimed to see 7…but I only saw 6. The pictures in the slide slow below were taken over several mornings before the buses arrived. Green frogs sound a little like a rubber band being strummed. It was fun to share the sights and sounds of the frogs with my hiking groups!

Zentangle® - May 2019

May was a busy month…but I made time to keep my Zentangle-a-day plan and did more than one on some days. 18 of the 31 tiles I picked for May were made on the iPad.  My favorites are still the black background with white ‘ink’.

There were some with a different color background or ink.

Toward the end of the month I started experimenting with complex loopy strings and mixed patterns that made some different looking tiles than my usual.

Switching away from the digital tiles - I am still enjoying the 3-inch round coasters. I did a lot of experimenting with the phicops pattern in May.

I made very few square tiles. I will probably be making more in June in preparation for my first ‘class’ as a CZT to dry run the module I will do with summer campers during the counselor training in mid-June.

I’ve been making small tiles (2” squares, Bijou size) with single patterns that I will use as prompts when I’m teaching…or to help select patterns for my own tiles.

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As usual – looking back at the Zentangle tiles I produced in May is very satisfying. It’s awesome to see all of them collected together…realizing I made all them…savoring them again.

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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 – 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.

Zentangle® - April 2019

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At the beginning of April, I was in the Certified Zentangle Trainer class…creating tiles as we learned best strategies for teaching others the Zentangle® Method. The tiles were put into a journal with corners like were used for pictures in old scrapbooks. My two favorite tiles that I did during the class were the ‘creature’ tile and the triangular tile (the different tile shape and color).

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I didn’t include the tiles from class in my 30 picks for April (I averaged over 3 tiles for each day of April…so had a challenge to pick just 30 for this blog post!). I’ve grouped them into 2 groups below:

The tiles I made on the iPad. I keep returned to black background and white ‘ink’ – even though I sometimes am in the mood for color…change up a little…temporarily.

The big experiment of the month was some round coasters I ordered from Amazon (here). They are 3-inch rounds rather than 4.5-inch that we did in class (and I found overwhelmingly large). The coasters are a good thickness and texture for Zentangle. I’ve used two pens: the Pigman Pen 05 (used for younger students…which I will have in summer campers this summer) and the Sharpie Ultra Fine (lots of colors). At some point I might experiment with a sealer and use them as coasters!

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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.  

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!

YE Thinking: Reducing Plastic

It’s impossible to stop using plastic completely – but I am reducing in every way that I can. Plastic on our land or in our water is not a good thing and it is a totally man-made problem that is becoming more apparent every year. Here are my strategies for reducing my plastic footprint at the end of 2018:

Buy products in containers that are not plastic (i.e. milk in cartons rather that plastic jugs, lemon juice in glass jar, peanut butter/preserves in glass jars).

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Always have reusable shopping bags handy. This was probably the first strategy I implemented, and it’s been over 10 years ago now. It was very easy for the weekly grocery shopping. Doing it for the quick trips of one or two items - and to stores other than the grocery store – happened over time. I now carry a small bag in a stuff pocket attached to my purse.

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Put produce in reusable produce bags. The challenge is that the labels spewed out by the scales don’t stick to the fabric…so I have a pad of paper to stick them too and the checker easily scans them when I am checking out.

Avoid single use plastic utensils. Go with plastic that can withstand many passes through the dishwasher or stainless flatware. My husband and I have travel sporks that we use for picnics on road trips.

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Make your own body wash with slivers of soap with water in a plastic bottle (I have a bottle from purchased body wash that I like for it’s shape….it will last for several years replenished from time to time with bar soap slivers!)

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Stop buying soft drinks and bottled water. I have been surprised at how easy this is to do for me. My husband is still working at it. It’s a healthy choice too. I carry my travel mug almost all the time – usually with just ice water. Another plus – it can reduce ‘grocery’ costs.

In the end – plastic is unavoidable. I try to choose plastics that are easier to recycle in our community.

  • Our recycling does not take clamshells like salad comes in so I rarely buy salad in that form. I buy the bundled organic full leaves (or plant) and put it in one of my reusable bags….or in a container that I can recycle (like a plastic bag).

  • I buy popcorn in a plastic bag rather than plastic container since I am more confident that the grocery store where I return clean plastic bags gets them recycled than the vendor that processes the multi-stream recycling picked up at our curb.

  • If there is an option to buy something I use frequently in a larger container (both plastic), I buy the larger container. My rationale is that larger containers probably get through the recycling process and into the correct bin (i.e. plastic) to be recycled.

One strategy that has helped me reduce the amount of plastic we are using is to look at what we put in our trash or recycle bins. I am fast approaching the point that I’ve done what I can do until packaging changes and I have more choices – choices that don’t include plastic.

YE thinking: Blog Evolution

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My first blog post was back in November 2011. I recently went back to look at some of the older posts and did the mental exercise of noting what has changed…what has stayed the same. Some of the early posts started out with quotes like this one from the day after Christmas 2011. There was more text than pictures in those early posts.

The 10 characteristics of a matriarch…and me…haven’t changed. I’m more settled in all of them now than I was 7 years ago:

  1. Past the drive to make a living. The prime drive to establish oneself in the world and make an acceptable home is probably from ages 22-55. It can vary but there comes a point in life where the focus on a career shifts to something else much more integrated with everything else life has to offer because the hard work has paid off and the prospect of doing something completely different can take precedence.

  2. Children are living independently. Until ones children are living independently, you are a mother rather than a matriarch!

  3. Healthy and full of energy. Matriarchs have retained their health through lifestyle choices and care for themselves. They often appear younger than they are because of their attitude toward life and their energy pursuing whatever interests them.

  4. Understands herself better than earlier in her life. The changes that occur as children become independent and the long term career ends (usually intentionally) forces a period of contemplation about what is truly important for the next phase of life. The answers don’t particularly surprise our matriarch…she views the time to think about it to be the tremendous luxury of the in-between days.

  5. Self-actualized decisions. As a teenager and adult, she may have followed the advice of her parents or mentors or managers. All that was good. Now she is much more in the mode of making her own decisions with inputs from others not being quite as important as they were earlier in her life.

  6. Post-menopausal (i.e. past child bearing). The joy of not having a monthly rhythm…feeling great all the time!

  7. Knows how to live within her means. Whatever her financial situation, she knows exactly how to make ends meet and sustain her home. After all – she plans to live to be 100.

  8. Assertive. She is nice about it, but she is savvy and does not let people take advantage of her unfairly.

  9. Lots of self-discipline. She gets up fairly early in the morning because she is enthusiastic about getting started on the activities of her day. Her rhythms of communication with the people she loves are consistent and thoughtful. The interests she develops are wide ranging and shared as she develops relationships with like-minded others.

  10. Married. She is known for her long duration relationships….most notably a spouse…although it could be friends as well. If she is widowed she does not live in the past but she may not feel it necessary to form a new relationship that cannot rise to the same level of shared history.

I would add at a couple more characteristic based on my last 7 years:

  1. Giving back. Matriarchs are always looking for ways they can be a positive influence in their community and the broader world through volunteering time (and/or money).

  2. For the long term. At some point, taking a more strategic view of the world becomes easier. That translates into living my life thoughtful of what will continue after I am gone. It is the way of savoring the present cognizant of the impact on the future of people and the world.

The weekly gleanings posts appeared almost from the beginning but my picks have shifted a bit toward more visual and science rather than technology.

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I started a monthly doodle post in 2012 then there was a lull after mid-2013 until I took a Zentangle class in January 2015 and started the month Zentangle post. Behind the scenes prep for the post changed over time from taking photos to scanning then to digital tiles on the iPad using the Apple Pencil beginning last spring.

Coursera came along not that long at a good time for me and I enjoyed courses that I’d not been able to take back in my college days. My posts about them started in 2014 and continued for at least 3 years. Now I am more focused on conferences and travelling than online courses…although I might go back to them at some point.

Photography has become a bigger hobby to me over the past 7 years and the blog is a major outlet for my images. When I travel – it’s always with a camera readily accessible. And then I have the illustrations for what I want to write about and a reminder of experience too.

Travel has always been good fodder from blog posts:

  • 2011: road trip from Maryland to Arizona

  • 2012: road trip to Shenandoah National Park in April, Tennessee parks in June, state parks in southern New York in October, Dallas in December

  • 2013:  Arizona in March, South Carolina in April, Norfolk and Richmond in May, Arizona in June, Utah in October, Florida in November

  • 2014: Dallas in March, southern New York parks in May, Newport RI in late September, Chincoteague VA in November

  • 2015: Tucson AZ in January, North Carolina wildlife refuges in April, Dallas in July and again in September, Staunton River State Park (Virginia) for star party in October, Hawaii in December

  • 2016: Tucson AZ in January, eastern shore MD wildlife refuges in March, Dallas in April, Florida in September, Staunton River State Park (Virginia) for star party in October, Festival of the Cranes in NM

  • 2017: Cross country from Maryland to Arizona with a stop in Dallas for my daughter’s conference,  Dallas in March, Pittsburgh in March, Delmarva Birding in April,  Dallas in May, Road trip from Tucson to Pittsburgh in June, road trip from Nebraska for solar eclipse in August,  Staunton River State Park (Virginia) for star party in October, TX for Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in November, Pittsburgh in December

  • 2018: Dallas in April, Dallas in June, State College in August, Festival of the Cranes in NM, Dallas in December

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I’m sure the blog will continue to change – nothing stays the same and we shouldn’t want it to.  

Zentangle® - November 2018

Lots of colors – tiles and pens. At the end of the month I reverted to black tiles. I think I like the dark background the best.

The travel during November did not impact my tile creation; carrying the iPad and Apple pencil are very easy. I experimented creating a tile on the flight to New Mexico after I realized that Bluetooth connections were permitted on the plane. Creating the tile was not as Zen as I like; full planes are too crowded and often bumpy. The tile did not make it into my top 30 tiles for November.

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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.

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.

Ten Little Celebrations – October 2018

Glorious fall – even if our leaf color is the least spectacular of the 30+ years I’ve lived on the east coast. All my celebrations this month were outdoors!

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Hiking in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area after heavy rain – lots of mud but my boots handled it well

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Bald Eagles – the serendipity of seeing them soaring over a shopping center parking lot

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Common Buckeye in a native plant garden on a sunny day

Mushrooms and cobwebs at Centennial Park…spectacular on a foggy morning

Finding a crawfish and hellgrammite in the Middle Patuxent River with high schoolers. We were all very cold but managed to still find some interesting critters.

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Fifth graders with clipboards and pencils on a BioBlitz at Belmont.

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First graders enjoying a hike on a cold fall morning (seeing a immature black rat snake)

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Finding a spotted salamander with a group of 7th graders on a BioBlitz at Mt. Pleasant

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A rainy day in the Middle Patuxent River with high schoolers – and realizing that the students were pleased with the macroinvertebrates we found. They came dressed for the rain!

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A long hike from Belmont to the Patapsco Valley State Park Avalon area – getting all my steps for the day in less than 3 hours

Common Buckeye Butterfly

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Last Saturday, I was at Robinson Nature Center about noon enjoying the native plant garden near the front of the nature center. When I noticed a Common Bucky Butterfly enjoying some of the fall flowers.

I took pictures from several perspectives. The colors and markings are very distinctive. It has knobs on the end of the antennae and whitish palpi between its eyes. It’s reported to like flowers with yellow centers…and that it what this individual was enjoying.

The entrance of the nature center has a nice display of fall pumpkins and squash.

I had come to the nature center earlier to participate look at macroinvertebrates in this part of the Middle Patuxent – upstream from the location for the two assessment with high schoolers earlier this week. Two differences: 1) no clams at Robinson….lots of them further down the river and 2) we found a snail…didn’t find any downstream. We found more of everything but that could have been the difference between and adult group and high schoolers….and we had more time to do the project.

In the Middle Patuxent River – Day 1

Last Monday, I volunteered through the Howard County Conservancy to help with a high school Stream Assessment in the Middle Patuxent River off the Kings Contrivance Loop trail. It was raining when I left the house before sunrise and continued through the assessment.

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It was starting to get lighter when I arrived at the site and helped to set up for the macroinvertebrate collection and identification.

We discovered very quickly that the white boards would not work in the rain – even if we wiped them off immediately before we tried to write.

Fortunately, the rain was gentle and water still relatively clear. This part of the river is silty…not a lot of cobbles.

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We found quite a few critters. There were at least 3 different kinds of dragonfly larvae; I had never seen the kind with a more rounded abdomen. All the other critters were the more typical ones.

Paper was quickly damaged in the rain. The students took pictures and (hopefully) enough data sheets will survive to make a good composite data set for the class. I took a picture of one of the sheets. The macroinvertebrate analysis done on site showed the river to be in the moderate range.

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The students finished and headed to their buses. As I made my way up the hill to my car, I stopped to look at some of the feeder rivulets along the way (there were bridges although I could have easily walked across these with my boots). There were some signs of erosion along the banks….it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be after our recent downpours.

There were also some colorful fungi. Orange is seen frequently.

There was an area with a lot of shelf fungi on logs. It was so damp that some seemed to have something green growing on them.

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My favorite was nearby – bright red and orange with yellow on the edge.

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HCC Fall Festival

Yesterday was the Howard County Conservancy’s annual Fall Festival at Mt. Pleasant Farm. The day started out cloudy and cool, but it cleared and was sunny in the afternoon. It was a good day to be out and after a lot of rainy days. It was still muddy enough that the hayride was cancelled for the year and there weren’t as many pumpkins, but all the other parts of the festival were ready for the event by 11…and there were a lot of people that came to enjoy the day at Mt. Pleasant.

I volunteered to help with the big map spread on the floor of the natures center. It was a big hit – just as it had been last year. The challenge once a lot of people started showing up was to remind children (and parents) to take off their shoes if they wanted to walk on the map. Nearly all the children wanted to walk on the map.

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I prompted them to find where they lived…and encouraged their parents to help find where they had got to the beach or where friends lived. We figure out how to get from Columbia (where many of them lived) to Ocean City (they they’d gone to the beach) – pointing out the bay bridge that is along the route. Many lived in Ellicott City which was more challenging to find because it is not on the map and the Patapsco River is not labeled. Some children walked the Potomac River or the Appalachian trail…or stood with one foot in Maryland and another in one on of the neighboring states. One boy was able to put one foot in Maryland, DC, and Virginia! It was fun for all ages and many of the adults got into the action as well.

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The permanent map on the nature center floor of the Howard County watersheds was popular too. The Patapsco River (light and dark green watersheds on this map) is often in the news because of the Ellicott City flooding but the Patuxent River drains more of the county.

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After two hours of interacting with the crowds on the map…I was ready to walk around the Festival a little. I headed over to see pumpkin that had been painted. Some had already dried and been picked up, but the ones that were still on the plastic were fantastic.

And a good time was had by all.