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.

Zentangle® - September 2018

…”30 days has September”…  so I’ve selected 30 Zentangle tiles to feature from the ones I made during last month.

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I’m presenting then in the order they were created – Starting with the blue that was part of the series at the end of August.

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Then there were yellow ones. I think I chose yellow to help brighten all the rainy days we were having.

Then it was pink and purple. I was thinking about the very short time in my daughter’s life when that color combination was her favorite. It did not survive early elementary school. I made a new template to go back to square tiles. I prefer them to the rectangle.

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I changed to orange thinking ahead to the fall.

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And then found my way back to yellow when we finally got sunny hours for several days in a row.

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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.

Yummy Potluck Lunch

There is always a potluck lunch after one of the training sessions for fall field trips at Howard County Conservancy…and the big day for fall 2018 was yesterday. It’s always a delicious feast. This year I tried to take pictures just before we started eating. There were still a few things to go on the tables! This group of volunteers is cooks and enjoys good eats!

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Note that the desert table has less chocolate than the usual potluck (although there are some chocolate squares around the edge of one of the cookie trays and brownies on the other). And there wasn’t anything with a lot of sugary icing. Cinnamon was a popular spice in the pumpkin and zucchini breads and apple cobbler!

There are always a lot of salads…lean meats. The space at the end of the table was taken by a big pot of stuffed cabbage and some slice French bread just after I took the picture. Note that there were no potatoes or chips! This cohort of staff and volunteers is trending more and more toward healthy eating. Good for us all!

The only downside of these potluck lunches is that I eat too much. This time I planned for it – lunch was the only meal of the day. It was a good hour of conversation and eating…and we all had a few leftovers to take home.

Belmont Hikes with Summer Campers I

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I have started weekly hikes with summer campers at Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont location. The theme for this week was ‘Fossils and Feathers’ – to I focused on birds during the hike. The cardinal flowers near the entrance to the Carriage House (the camp headquarters) have evidently attracted some hummingbirds but there were too many people about while I was there to see them.

I was early enough that I walked around to see how the butterfly meadow looks during its first season. It’s mostly grass!

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I photographed some of the flowers that are there among the grass. I hope the butterflies find them!

There were two groups of campers; the first group to hike were the younger children. We hiked down to the pond. There are birdhouses along the way down the grassy path through the newly mowed field. The tree swallows were very active…and then we saw purple martins in their house and flying off toward the pond. Turkey vultures made slow circles in the sky. There were red-winged black birds around the pond and we talked about other birds that like to be around water; Great Blue Herons and Wood Ducks both came up in the talk. We also saw dragon flies at the pond and talked about how they lay their eggs in the water. We hiked back along the tree lined drive to the manor house and stopped at the sycamore; we noticed the pieces of bark on the ground and agreed that next time they go to the stream they might try the curls of bark as ‘boats.’

I had a break between the two groups. I found a chair in the shade and took pictures of birds at the feeders and nearby trees.

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There were red-winged blackbirds, goldfinches, a red-bellied woodpecker, and a mockingbird. I was hearing the mockingbird long before I managed to see it.

The second hike was a bit longer. We walked along the edge of the forest then went a short way in…listening for birds in several places along the way. We heard birds…but didn’t see any except doves and vultures. There was a lot of other things to see: a deer, a tiger swallowtail, chicory, wineberry, sweet gum balls, lichen, a cicada’s shed.

In both groups we found a few feathers to talk about. I enjoyed the hikes…and I think the campers did too.

Home Alone

My husband headed off to a dark sky site with his telescope yesterday and I am savoring the being at home on my own. After being away in Texas for almost 3 weeks I was not keen to leave town again. I will still do my hiking with summer campers, pickup us the CSA share for the week, and do the weekly grocery shopping. I find myself enjoying the quiet of the house without the television on. I like the view from my summer office; I moved from my previous office because it gets full sun in the afternoon and even the insulated drapes are not enough to keep out the heat. The summer office is shaded by a large tree for most of the afternoon and is much more comfortable. I still have a good view of the backyard…no houses in my line of sight.

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I’ve also discovered that the tree is visible from the skylight. There is a lot to like about a house that is almost 30 years old! I am savoring being home along!

Fishmobile – Take 2

My first experience with the Fishmobile was back in April at an elementary school in Carroll County (posted about it here). I got an email just after I returned from Texas asking if I could help with the Fishmobile’s visit to a nature center near where I life for a weekend event. I still had committed to anything else so I accepted. The day started out well when I checked the milkweed in my front flower bed and found a good-sized Monarch caterpillar!

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The day was not too hot and my ‘shift’ was from 10-12 when the temperature was in the mid-70s. Most of the animals that were there for the school were in the tanks again: horseshoe crabs, Larry the diamond backed terrapin, a blue crab, and a box turtle.

The American eel was silvery and was more active this time. The only thing I missed from last time were sea horses but there were some preserved ones to talk about with the families that came through. In the two hours I was there, almost 200 people came through. Some of the children came through the exhibit several times (after they built up their courage to experience the two touch tanks).

During one lull I stepped off the Fishmobile bus and photographed some bees on the plants just outside. The bees were very active and focused on the flowers…not flying amongst the people coming to the Fishmobile.

After my shift was over, I walked over to the compost demo and filled out the form to get a free compost bin. After the tour yesterday and further education today, I am going to do my own compost. My plan it to put the bin back near the forest and start it off with some shredded paper and veggie/fruit scraps from the kitchen. This time of year taking the watermelon rinds to the compost bin will be a lot easier than lugging them to the curb in a trash bag that might leak! Stay tuned for posts about my compost adventure.

Home Again

I’ve been away from home for almost three weeks. This is my first day back and I hope some of my normal routines will be re-established quickly and easily. I’ll be posting the June month-end posts over the next few days as part of that return to ‘normal’….along with grocery shopping, yard work, and laundry!

On a positive note – spending a period (like 2-3 weeks) with a different-than-usual focus is always a learning experience. It will take some introspection now that I am home again to internalize the nuances of the experience.

Stay tuned!

Father's Day

Thinking about father’s today…

So many good memories and anticipation of the future within my own family of my father and my husband as father to my daughter. There are only memories of my grandfathers at this point but those are good too. Over the years I’ve realized that there as many ways to be a good father as there are to be a good mother…good parents always seem able to sync with the needs of their children. I suppose having days to celebrate fathers and mothers are very much reminders to celebrate families too!

I enjoyed a blog post about Wildlife Fathers too.

Last Spring Field Trips at Mt. Pleasant

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The last of the Howard County Conservancy school field trips at Mt. Pleasant. The last three were between the heavy rains in our area the past couple of weeks. The first one was for 7th graders; my station was down at the Davis Branch helping them capture and identify macroinvertebrates to assess the water quality in the stream.

They put on boots and waded into the stream (and we didn’t have anyone step into a deep pool…fill their boots with water).

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The water was surprising clear before they arrived. The upstream portion that was restored has slowed the flow enough to help the sediment carried by the recent rains.

The forest near the stream and the meadow was thick with late spring vegetation (some invasive plants too – like the multiflora rose).

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I stopped at the old foundation (now a retaining wall) on the next field trips…fascinated by the moss that was propagating, the different kinds of lichen, and what looked like a mold growing on the damp rock.

On the last field trip I checked the milkweed near the nature center for caterpillars; no luck. There was a fly that sat long enough for a picture and the buds of flowers that will open in the next few weeks.

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The butterfly weed was about ready to bloom as well.

The ferns were unfurling…and providing some different color to the shady scene on the way to the nature center.

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It was calm before the 3 buses arrived with about 120 kindergarteners! A good time was had by all…a good finale to the spring field trips at Mt. Pleasant.

Changes at the Grocery Store - a little history

When I first started doing my own grocery shopping back in the 1970s – the checkers still had to know the prices (no scanners), there was only one kind of bag and it was paper, and I paid cash or wrote a check.

Then the scanners came along and plastic bags although paper bags could be requested. At some point, paying for groceries with a credit card took over from checks. The credit card processing hand changed over the years…from the checker swiping it through a part of the register, to me swiping it through a device, and most recently, to me inserting the chip end of the card into the upgraded device. That finally step has eliminated the signature requirement.

I started using my own reusable bags about 8 years ago and now seldom get the plastic bags any more (and never from the grocery store). Sometimes my husband requests paper bags that we use for collecting paper to be recycled.

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The last plastic bags I’ve eliminated are from the produce department; I’ve started taking a reusable plastic bin for those items – weighing them so the checker can easily scan the weight/price for those items. In a recent trip I eliminated 3 plastic bags; I always am pleased when I can take a simple action and reduce plastic use!

Of course, once the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) season starts in June, my purchases from the grocery store produce department are dramatically reduced.