Spring in Virginia

I’m experimenting with a product called Canva and thought I’d create this to see how it looks.

LIVING THE SEASONS

I’m not sure about the service – the bottom pictures were cut off in Facebook and I was unable to import this into Lightroom to run it through my export settings and downsize the picture. As a result, it’s in full size. That’s 5x the size of what I usually upload, but this is four photos in a single frame. It looks nice, but I’m not sure how much I’ll use this. They don’t have much for free either – most every image and things I’d want to do has a price tag on it. It’s not expensive individually, but you’d have to really be careful to not rack up the fees. There are others out there that charge a flat monthly fee but I haven’t priced it out or tried it to see if I’d use it.

The pictures are pretty though. They were all taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

A Late Winter Walk

Path at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Path at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.
– Henry David Thoreau

A few days before the official start of spring, I took a walk at one of my favorite places, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. The shadows were lovely, even though the trees are still bare. The crocus were in bloom – just barely – so spring is definitely on its way.

Crocus at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Crocus at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

The last time I shared pictures from the botanical gardens, it was still early fall (click here to see) and there was an abundance of colors all over. The day I took these photos did not have such. I still enjoyed being there, but had kept my expectations low as to what I would see.

The gazebo at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
The gazebo at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

When the leaves are down, I see things that are otherwise covered up. I made that observation years ago and it’s still true today.

Greenhouse from the side at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Greenhouse from the side at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

Here’s another view of the greenhouse. I don’t normally stand this far back, but I loved the composition of the center of the greenhouse against the empty trees.

Front view of the greenhouse at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Front view of the greenhouse at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

I also don’t normally photograph the bridge from the gazebo (my gazebo shots are usually taken from the bridge though!), but once again, I liked how the light played with the shapes. Plus it was pretty empty, so I didn’t have to wait so long to get pictures without people in them.

Looking at the bridge at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Looking at the bridge at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

I’ve noticed when I walk the dogs around the neighborhood that the leaves are sounding like fall when they skitter across the blacktopped road. We have a lot of old oak trees around the homes here and they don’t drop their leaves until they’re nearly ready to start putting out new green ones. So everyday there’s more leaves on the grass, the cars, and skittering around in the wind.

Overlooking the pond at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Overlooking the pond at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

I was cold. I didn’t wear a winter coat, but I was wearing a heavier hat and my fingerless gloves.

Self-portrait
Self-portrait

The greenhouse was its usual oasis of warmth and bright colors. I love going in there when it’s cold out! Years ago, a fellow blogger (Patti at A New Day Dawns) left me a comment that the greenhouse was like dessert after a cold day in the garden. I laughed then and I still laugh now at that, because that’s exactly what it reminds me each time I go in there when the garden has so little color. In fact, some of the pictures that I took in January 2012 had more color and foliage than I found in mid-March of 2015.

That statue had a little brown spider (most likely a wolf spider, nothing more) on its head. I didn’t realize it until I was nearly done shooting the picture and the spider moved! And yep, every one of my carefully composed pictures had that little spider on it. I did clone out of the final photo above. Still, wish I’d known it was there. I would have come back later to take the pictures.

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I enjoyed the beauty of the day. No, it’s not the over-the-top cacophony of colors that I see from April to October. But it was pretty, the fresh air was great, and I enjoyed finding new photos that I wouldn’t have probably taken when the trees were in full leaf. It was a good day.

Trip Update

Spring beauty from Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.
Spring beauty from Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

My road trip is going well.

I had a wonderful weekend visiting my daughter and her boyfriend – I even learned a new board game called Dominion.  My daughter beat me and her super smart sweetie.  I think she would have enjoyed beating us more if she’d realized she was doing so well.  He knew she’d won, but she had to count it out before she believed it.  She’s a good player of board games, but the game has some complexities and she was so focused on playing the cards in the right order that she didn’t see how many points she was accumulating.

Saturday night we went to the Shakespeare Tavern in downtown Atlanta to see Hamlet. It was a long evening, but seeing Hamlet made it much more alive than reading it in a book ever did. For a synopsis of the story, click here.

Stage before the play began.
Stage before the play began.

It was opening night and the energy was high.  I don’t know how the actors will do this night after night with the same passion, but I sure enjoyed it.  We haven’t done this before and it was nice getting out to do something different.  The actor playing Hamlet had so much emotion – although they all did.  I wasn’t too impressed with the actress who played Ophelia until Ophelia went insane.  The actress was superb – wow!  What a switch from a sweet young thing to a woman out of her mind with grief.

Copy of the playbill
Copy of the playbill

Sorry about the pictures.  I used my cell phone and don’t have any photo processing software on my work laptop.  But I love sharing my days with everyone and even though it’s not up to my usual quality, the purpose here is to share fun and laughter.

I had good meetings at our manufacturing facility today.  There was wonderful hospitality from the catered lunch (Southern fried chicken) to the tour and the bottle of water on the way out.  I learned a lot and I also gave out information about what I did and how I did it.

So Tuesday brings meetings with legislators and the lieutenant governor, Wednesday is a seminar and meetings with attorneys.  It’s been a lot of driving (pretty and very uneventful).  So I hope you understand if I haven’t been leaving comments on your blogs.  I’m reading them as I have time, but there hasn’t been much of it.

Have a good week!

 

Easter Weekend Photos

Spring is nearly a month behind where it was last year.  It’s more normal for when it should come, but the cherry blossoms and flowers aren’t quite out yet at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

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Click here to see how Ginter looked last April.  We haven’t had too many sunny days here either.  It’s dreary and damp most of the time lately.  A few good days of warm and sun can, of course, change the landscape quickly.

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Don’t you just love those reflections in the water?  When I walked over to the side path, the reflections were much dimmer in the water.  This spot worked the best.

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This spot is another favorite of mine for taking pictures at the botanical gardens.  I love the shaggy bark on the tree to the right, plus the little white ticket booth in the background.  These are ferns around the bench that are still unfurling, which is why it looks a bit scraggly and not very lush.

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On to other news!

I found the beagle some squeaky toys that are similar to the little plastic soccer balls that he loves so much.  They must be close enough as he’s been playing with it and bringing it to the deck to be tossed.  His bigger brother, of course, cannot resist taking it away and squeaking it himself.

I’ve been slicing and dicing an enormous amount of data at work due to some increased requirements from our outside auditors.  I’m glad that I figured out a way to do it and am also glad that for now, the project seems to be done.

I didn’t see my daughter for Easter weekend.  She wasn’t able to find someone to watch her dogs so she could come here and with quarter close at work, I couldn’t get away long enough to go to her.  She also has a litter of puppies nearly ready to go, which makes it harder for her to leave.  I should see her in May though, which will be fun.

To end my post, here’s some daffodils that are in bloom plus a camellia tree that is starting to finish its blossoms.  Enjoy!

A Spring Walk

Several weekends ago, I took a lovely walk at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. Not surprisingly, I came home with over 300 photos. It was so much fun! There was so much to see and marvel over.  I felt like I could oohhh and aahhh over the flowers all afternoon long.

The beautiful spring came;
when Nature resumes her loveliness,
the human soul is apt to revive also.
Harriet Ann Jacobs

It was colorful everywhere and my happiness soared just to see it all. The paths were an invitation – come walk me and see what’s here. Explore what’s new. Enjoy the present moment.

Let us decide on the route that we wish to take to pass our life,
and attempt to sow that route with flowers.
Madame du Châtelet

Colors matched and colors clashed. Flowers were tall and short, with individuality just like the many people with whom I interact. But they were all beautiful – the jumble was eye catching.

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”
Robin Williams

The fields of daffodils from several weeks ago have already died back, but new daffodils have taken their place. These were quite different though – double blooms, white on white, and a flat faced one.

I thought of how quickly this year is going already. It seems only a few days ago that I was blogging about my accomplishments last year and my goals for 2012. Like the days of our lives, the daffodils are also coming and going quickly. By the time I return, these will be gone also and replaced by something else.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
 They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth

Of course, these daffodil pictures weren’t yellow, but the azaleas were. I’d never seen yellow azaleas before, but I looked it up on the Internet and yep, they can be that color. The flowers have as much variety as the days of our lives and remind me to embrace the differences that each day brings, to enjoy them for what they are as the days fly by.

Spring—an experience in immortality.
Henry D. Thoreau

There was peacefulness everywhere, even for this mallard drake as he pedaled around the pond. There’s nothing magical about a duck of course – they’re ordinary as can be – but they’re fun to watch.  The iridescent green of their head feather glint in the sun, a pretty decoration as a consolation prize for their ungainly bodies.

I liked the texture of the waves and could look at this picture indefinitely. It’s a good vision to have on the days that I need to calm down and relax. Not, of course, that ever happens to me at work or home :)

This is the day the LORD has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

I have more pictures, but I think that’s enough for now.  I challenge you to look for beauty in everything, from the ordinary to the spectacular.  Be mindful, pay attention to the present moment, and live your life fully.

Other walks are posted for January, MarchOctober, and November.

A Walk In March

I took a walk at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens recently and thought you might like to come with, if for no other reason than to get some spring colors to cheer your day.

I nearly didn’t go – the sky started out a flat, dull gray which matched my mood.  When the sky cleared, I kept checking the horizon to see if it was going to stay blue skies or not.  My favorite boy toy wisely suggested that I get out of the house and take a walk.  He thought I’d either come back in a better mood or else be tired enough for a good nap, after which I’d feel better.

This was the view when I walked out of the visitor’s center.  It was just gorgeous – I loved these clouds and even though there’s not much green, I thought it was a great view and I cheered up immediately.

Because the dark clouds were rolling back in, I went right to my favorite gazebo to get some pictures.  I posted a different one here that ultimately became my header photo for March.  I liked this because it had both the clouds and the water.  I think it’s cool to look at all the reflections in the water.  It truly is a mirror image.

Although it was mid-morning, the shadows were still long.  This bridge is leading to someplace that can’t be seen, with a lamp to light the way.  Will it be good?  Ordinary?  Bad?  There’s no way to know unless I walk the bridge and find out.  At least, that’s how I felt when I took the picture.  The mystery of adventure is always attractive, even though the reality may not be.

Aren’t these two little kids just precious?  The gardens have several nice sculptures and with the leaves down, they are much more noticeable.  While it’s a little boy and girl sitting together, I like to think it’s me and my sister.  I’m the one in the shorts and gym shoes; she’s the one in the dress that’s sitting nicely.

Of course, she’s the one that ran competitive track in high school and college.  She went to the state finals one year, infuriating my favorite boy toy as none of the boys (himself included) were good enough that year to win at the regionals.  So maybe she’s the one wearing the shorts. . . nah, I didn’t wear dresses unless I absolutely had to.  She didn’t mind a nice dress and still doesn’t.

I’m pretty sure this sundial was at the other end of the garden last year.  Since I was in a putzy mood, I spent some time examining the face of the dial.  It was actually accurate, after the time change this last weekend.  For the first weekend in March, it was ahead by an hour.

With this unusually warm weather, the magnolia trees were in bloom.  Unfortunately, the nights are still cold and as a result, the blooms had blasted.  They were deformed, the edges were browned, and the sizes uneven.  The middle of the tree wasn’t as bad, but it took some effort to get a good shot.

This called a Lenten Rose (helleborus).  I don’t know much about them, but would imagine the name comes from them blooming during Lent.  They must be frost hardy as well.

Here’s the inside of a white one.  Isn’t it delicate?  Of course, the photographer was reminded she’s not doing her yoga consistently enough while contorting in a bent over position to get this.

I’d debated about putting this picture in.  It will be pretty in another month, but for now, it’s just desolate.  I felt the same way – over busy, overtired, and just frustrated with a lot of things.  My boy toy was right to get me out of the house.

When our daughter was little, we went through a particularly tough time.  Not only were bills tight, but we hated where we lived and I didn’t like my job.  My husband would make us leave the house on Saturdays to go hiking.  We either improved our collective mood or we came home too tired to fight.  It worked and eventually that season of life ended but not the lessons learned in managing our moods and emotions.

I wasn’t the only one out.  This little sparrow was digging furiously in the dirt here.  A number of my pictures show the blur of his little rump, his head whipping around, and his body shaking off his dirt bath.  He didn’t mind me standing there, so I kept shooting away.  It was such a little thing, but it gave me a big smile to watch him for a few minutes.

There were all kinds of daffodils in bloom.  These have a bright orange lip and were a small flower.  There were big daffodils, small ones, medium ones, and all variations of yellow.  They were all over – big beds of them.

I don’t know what this is!  I usually takes pictures of the signs for later reference, but didn’t this time.  I think it’s another magnolia based on the leaves and the center of the flowers.  Last year, I only saw the white ones.  I had no idea they were in striped pink and red too.

They’re so bright and I love how they tip to the side, like they’re dancing in the wind.

And the white magnolia’s were open too.  I was fascinated by the center of the flowers and will spend some time playing in Photoshop with them.  The flowers are as big as the palm of my hand.

These irises surprised me.  They were very tiny, barely 4″ off the ground, but as brightly striped as the irises from last May that were as tall as my waist.  There were some bees out, but none on the irises.

I called my boy toy to tell him I wasn’t done yet, wanting to go through the greenhouse.  He wasn’t particularly missing me, but said he’d get his own lunch.  He told me to stop out and get some lunch, then go to the bookstore for some browsing.  Was he a sweetie or what!  More flowers, lunch out, and books?  It doesn’t get much better than that.

As you can see, the fountains now working.  This garden is new since last year.  I had no idea it would be so pretty.  There are a lot of benches so people can sit and relax (when the weather is better of course).

I shared a walk in the gardens in January.  Patti, from A New Day Dawns, left a comment that the greenhouse flowers were like dessert.  I loved that analogy and thought of it as I went in the doors.

So pretty!

So bright!

So delicate!  These are azaleas.

This is also new in the greenhouse.  It’s made from ferns, orchids, and bromeliads.  I was fascinated at how attractive it was and how unexpected it was to find this around the doorway into the back greenhouse.

Here’s a close-up.

The right wing of the greenhouse is a permanent orchid collection.  I don’t often go in there, having seen enough orchids from when my husband raised them.  I found this little flower though – it looks like a butterfly, doesn’t it?  I didn’t recognize the orchid though and showed it to my boy toy when I got home.  He was puzzled, not having ever seen an orchid flower that looked like that before.  And he was quite the orchid expert in his time too!

At which point, we both started laughing.  You do realize that this is a cactus, not an orchid, don’t you?  No wonder he didn’t recognize it nor did I (and I’d gotten pretty good at identifying them).

Coming out of the greenhouse, I looked across to the visitors center.  To the right is the education center.  The library is closed on Sundays, but there was a photography exhibit inside that I enjoyed for a few minutes.

I was glad I went for a walk!  I came back in a better mood.  The fresh air and some exercise were just what I needed.  And the beauty was incredible.  Everytime I go to the botanical gardens, there’s something new to see, something for me to enjoy, even at the end of winter.

Other walks are posted for JanuaryApril, October, and November.

Alas, So Little Remains of Human Inhabitants

Henry David Thoreau once said,
Alas! how little does the memory of these human inhabitants enhance the beauty of the landscape!  
When my favorite boy toy and I go hiking, we sometimes find clumps of daffodils in middle of the woods.  Usually it’s from a house that used to be there and if we look carefully, we can often see a foundation of sorts or some other evidence that someone once lived there.  It’s sad that so little remains of early settlers and their homes, but the daffodils seem to always endure.
 

Word for tomorrow – BESIDE.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”. 

To see how others might interpret today’s randomly selected word, check out other challenge participants in the box at the right.  For more information on participating in the challenge, click  the tab marked “challenge invitation”.