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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

This past Saturday, while sitting in my kitchen sipping tea, I heard this thud and wondered what it could be. I did assume that something had fallen down but I had no clue what it might be.  But later, as I began mowing grass in my back lawn, there sat a little red breasted nuthatch and I knew then what the thud was, this little bird as it hit a window or the side of my home!

When this happens during the winter months, I usually collect the little birds and cup them in my hands until they warm up and recover. But this was the first day of September and really quite warm. Still, I did not want the little bird to be in danger of my mower or a cat or any other predator. I decided to collect it in my hands anyway and hold it until it had recovered from the shock.

Well, apparently, it had recovered for the most part because it quickly slipped from my hands, landing on my shoulder. I stood very still for a time and when the bird did not seem in much hurry to leave, I decided to take a photograph of it sitting there rather calmly, giving me close inspection!

This photo was taken (slowly so as not to scare the little guy) using my cell phone camera.

After a time, though, I felt that I needed to get back to mowing grass and I gently gave the little tyke the boot.

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For a couple of years now, at least, there’s been this mural on the wall of a pizza shop out in Gloucester, MA that I’ve wanted to photograph and post to this blog. But, every time that I’ve passed by the place, the parking lot has been full of cars (apparently, they serve great pizza) and there has been no clear view of the mural. Until today, that is!

Today, a Sunday morning, with comfortable temperatures but still not real warm, the parking lot was empty and I got my chance. Just check it out!

Beginning farthest to the left, that's not a real window! Look at the shadows, the depth created by the patrons farthest inside, the seagull peering in the window at the man eating a slice of pizza.

Beginning farthest to the left, that's not a real window! Look at the shadows, the depth created by the patrons farthest inside, the seagull peering in the window at the man eating a slice of pizza.

Moving to the right, here's an artist (maybe "the" artist) painting "plein air." Notice, again, the shadows cast by the strong sunlight.

Moving to the right, here's an artist (maybe "the" artist) painting "plein air." Notice, again, the shadows cast by the strong sunlight.

And, moving farthest to the right, the end of the building! Look how the artist has created the feeling that you are peering around the corner of the building, standing on the pier looking at Gloucester in the distance!

And, moving farthest to the right, the end of the building! Look how the artist has created the feeling that you are peering around the corner of the building, standing on the pier looking at Gloucester in the distance!

An overall view of the wall.

An overall view of the wall.

Finally, I am and have always been a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due! Here's the artist's signature and phone number.

Finally, I am and have always been a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due! Here's the artist's signature and phone number.

What a great sense of perspective! What a great use of shadow and light!

I just LOVE this mural! Don’t you?!

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It never fails, starting in late February and early March, when Mother Nature begins to flirt with springtime temperatures and the ground starts to show through the dirty snow cover, that I begin to crave my garden, to begin planting vegetable seed and to plant flowers in soil warmed by the sun. It doesn’t help my cravings either to find an old packet of radish seed long buried under papers pinned to my bulletin board.

Are they viable? Will they sprout and give me the feeling, at least, that spring is just around the corner?

Are they viable? Will they sprout and give me the feeling, at least, that spring is just around the corner?

Now, was it last summer? Or, maybe, it was the summer before then that I tried planting those radish seed in a deck rail pot but gave up after finding the little seedlings dug up time after time. At first, I blamed mischievous squirrels for the destruction but, then one morning, I caught the real culprit! It was an Eastern Chipmunk; the little devil was hiding among my alpine strawberry plants, waiting for me to leave so that it could continue wreaking havoc on my deck garden seedlings!

It really doesn’t matter though, my cravings are just too intense to ignore … I’ve planted a small pot of the radish seed even though I doubt very much that the seed are viable. I’ll put it in my bay window and hope that my little corner of spring will soon sprout anyway.

It doesn't look like much yet but, keeping fingers crossed, I hope that in a week or two, this pot will be filled with seedlings!

It doesn't look like much yet but, keeping fingers crossed, I hope that in a week or two, this pot will be filled with seedlings!

Especially since, it never fails … on the 1st of March, Old Man Winter chose to make another appearance. But then, it seems that Mother Nature just may have the last laugh yet! Temperatures in the 50’s are predicted for the weekend … can springtime gardens be far behind after all?! 😀

***

A Few Notes …

  • Do you know how to test seed for viability? To plant a pot of old seed and hope for the best is one thing but I wouldn’t want to plant a whole garden that way. To test old seed is really simple, just place a few seed on a moistened paper towel then wait for the number of days till germination (which can be found on the back of the packet of seed). If then you seed little roots forming, you’re good to go!
  • Normally, I would sprinkle some milled sphagnum moss on top of the soil to prevent damping-off disease (a disease or mildew that forms on the surface of the soil when starting seed indoors. It is caused by the moist soil that meets warm indoor air, it then makes it look as if someone has pinched-off the seedlings at the soil level). But, I simply did not have any milled sphagnum moss on hand and I will have to replenish some of my gardening supplies soon!

One Final Note …

Sadly, this year’s New England Spring Flower Show has been canceled. In its place, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society has initiated a new show called Blooms! that will be held at two venues. One is in Downtown Boston from March 13th through the 15th and the other is at Simon Malls from March 12th through the 22nd, 2009. “BLOOMS! is not intended to replace the historic New England Flower Show. BLOOMS! is intended to continue the Mass Hort tradition of celebrating Spring in Boston! …”

In addition, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society is asking for donations to bring back the New England Flower Show in 2010. For more information, visit New England Spring Flower Show!

For a few images from last year’s show posted to my blog, visit “Two Tickets to Springtime, Please!”

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For the past couple of days, I’ve just been “exploring” a site called ArtBistro.com. It’s part of Monster.com and I have registered as a member of both sites (seeking employment has become my new and full-time job).

One of the artists posted a photograph that, I must admit, he did label a photograph but also labeled it a painting. Now, as a photographer, I’ve always felt that photography is equally art, that a camera is merely another tool just as brushes and palette knives are, film is merely another medium just as oils and watercolors are.

But, as I studied the photograph/painting, I began to wonder how he created the image. Was it done in acrylic? In egg tempera? In watercolor?

Then, I decided that it must be a digitally modified photograph!

Well, I did some “experimenting” of my own … on a photograph that my folks took years ago of a sailboat I had built (as a teenager) on its maiden voyage (I’m the strawberry blonde holding the tiller)! The original photograph was printed on textured paper, it’s dusty and has been folded. However, in my “experimented” photograph, I cleaned up as much of the dust as I could then added a couple of “lens flares.”

This is the original image of my "yacht"

This is the original image of my "yacht"

Here's my "yacht" photo retouched

Here's my "yacht" photo retouched

Well, then, what do you think?

Okay! I’m just bored and fooling around!

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My apologies if I sound a bit defensive here, but, whenever I mention to friends, relatives and neighbors that I prefer to trap (in Havahart® traps) and relocate mice (to places like a local park, NOT to another neighbors yard) as opposed to killing them with poisons, more often than not, what I get in return is a little smirk and, sometimes, even a little chuckle. Well, just yesterday, I read an article in Tufts Journal titled “Rescuing the Raptors by Jacqueline Mitchell” that, in my view at least, has finally validated my methods.

In part, the article was about the way in which hawks that dine on rodents that have consumed a commonly available over-the-counter poison (brodifacoum) can eventually die of that same poison! Apparently, this poison, an anticoagulant, “metabolizes slowly and accumulates in the liver, a raptor feeding on poisoned rodents can build up toxic levels over time.” Thus, while the rodent takes several days to die, the hawks can die an even slower death simply because they have not consumed the poison directly.

Okay, I admit, I knew nothing of this before reading the article! I also admit that I used to use those poisons but, after seeing a mouse convulsing on my cellar floor shortly after setting out trays of the poison, … well, that just “turned me off” from that method of ridding my home of the little critters. It was then that I turned to the Havahart® traps instead.

So, go ahead and smirk, go ahead an chuckle! I have been a bird lover for several decades and, I especially love raptors. And that I turned to “trapping and relocating” rodents just may have saved even one red-tailed hawk?! Well, I say that’s all the better.

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Here in New England, early summer already promised to be an exceptional year for flowers and fruit. Case in point, elderberry.

You see, one morning, while I was out back beside the big bird feeder (aka, squirrel and deer feeder), tossing out some stale bread for the birds, I noticed these tall shrubs with large bunches of tiny white flowers.

Now, I knew that elderberry was “present” in New England but, I’d never really seen it before. Well, maybe I had seen it but I didn’t really know what it looked like. So, naturally, after photographing the flowers, I looked them up in one of my field guides.

Well, I’ve always known that you could make elderberry wine or jelly from the berries but, I didn’t know that you can eat the flowers in pancakes and fritters too. I chose to wait until the berries formed and, maybe, just maybe I’d try my hand at making elderberry wine!

Right, … not so fast! This morning, I decided to check out the berries’ progress and, while I did find a few bunches of berries …

The droplets of water are courtesy of hurricane Hannah.

The droplets of water are courtesy of hurricane Hannah.

The vast majority of the “bunches” looked more like this!

Oh well! Truth be told, I’ve never made any wine before nor have I ever tasted elderberry wine. (I am somewhat partial to the sweet or semi-sweet dessert wines, though. Could someone tell me if elderberry wine is a sweet or semi-sweet wine? Maybe it’s neither?) On the other hand, it says in my field guide, that “bark, root, leaves, and unripe berries toxic; said to cause cyanide poisoning, severe diarrhea.” 😯

I think I’ll pass on the elderberry wine making for now!!! 😉

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There are moments, forever to remain inexplicable, when a certain harmony seems to descend upon the scene, some divine unity that briefly blends me into the habitat and lets me enter the forbidden sanctum of the [natural] world, … Then the pictures I came to get seem relegated to a subordinate place, mere mementos of a loveliness that only pure memory can recall.

—Gordon Sherman
(Original from “With One Eye Open”
Birder’s World, November/December 1988 )

West, Larry and Julie Ridl, “Afterword,” How to Photograph Birds, Stackpole Books, 1993, Harrisburg, PA

_______

First and foremost, I am a nature lover, observer and conservationist. Second, I’m a photographer and illustrator. I can’t tell you the number of times that I, just like Gordon Sherman, have put down the camera or the sketchpad to simply “take in and enjoy” the sight of a beautiful sunrise, or to look closely at the way in which a pussy willow collects fine dew drops, or the way in which flower petals “shimmer” in sunlight as if dusted with a silvery powder, or, even the way in which a single droplet of water reflects light in much the same way as a multifaceted diamond reflects light.

Yet, when I have put down my camera or sketchpad, when I have collected “mementos” in my memory rather than record the scenes before me on film, I have never felt even the slightest bit of guilt about doing so. So, I ask you then, why is it that I feel such a sense of guilt if I don’t blog often enough? And, by often enough, I mean the “recommended” two to three times a week that so many “blogging experts” purport to be the absolute minimum that any serious blogger should aim for! This blog was, after all, meant to be a personal one. In fact, I’ve noticed that even business or professional bloggers don’t always post entries two to three times a week, some post entries as little as once a week!

And, I’m not the only blogger who seems to feel such guilt when not blogging. Take, for example, aullori who, needing to take a break due to tendonitis in her right elbow, apparently found it necessary to post an entry that she called slight pause, writing that “hopefully no one is offended …” if she took a little time off.

Still, a solution never occurred to me and I, like so many others, would simply keep making my apologies for not being the “dutiful” blogger that I felt was expected of me. Until, that is, while perusing “other” blogs, I noticed some with a button in their sidebars with the letters B.W.O. Curious, I then clicked on the button and was brought to a site called tartx with the title of the entry being called blogging without obligation. In the first paragraph, Tiffini writes “After coming across what seemed to be the 4000th or so post on someone’s blog starting with ‘I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile.’ … I am thinking that no one should utter those words again … and with that thought I give you Blogging Without Obligation.”

Tiffini then proceeded to list the following reasons why no one should feel guilty about the amount of blogging that they choose to do. They are,

  • Because you shouldn’t have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill.
  • Because it’s okay to just say what you have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine. Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine.
  • Because it’s okay to not always be enthralled with the sound of your own typing.
  • Because sometimes less is more.
  • Because only blogging when you feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of your blog.
  • Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone.
  • Because for most of us blogging is just a hobby. A way to express yourself and connect with others. You should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. Just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be “bloggable.”
  • Because if you blog without obligation you will naturally keep your blog around longer, because it won’t be a chore. Plus, just think you will be doing your part to eradicate post pollution. One post at a time …

I couldn’t agree with her more! As a matter of fact, I can’t tell you what a great sense of relief that I experienced after reading this post.

Tiffini has made a bunch of logos or buttons, inviting anyone who “feel[s] the same way [to] feel free to grab a logo, …” You bet I grabbed that logo!

I’d like to thank Tiffini for letting us inconsistent “guilt ridden” bloggers “off the hook” so to speak and for allowing us that sense of relief to continue on Blogging Without Obligation.

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