It’s Beautiful Everywhere

One great thing about spring in Virginia is how pretty it is everywhere. I thought I’d show you what I see as I’m driving around! A word of warning though – these are not drop dead gorgeous shots. They can’t be. The locations are bad and on the days I shot these, so was the lighting. But it had been raining and more rain was coming. So it was either take the pictures or have none.

But back on topic – it’s pretty in front of the bank.

Flowering trees at the bank
Flowering trees at the bank

Continue reading “It’s Beautiful Everywhere”

Anatomy of Spring

Spring arrived this week in central Virginia, bringing a different gift each day.  Seeing robins shivering in snow is a sign of spring, but it isn’t really spring yet until the trees have leaves on them!  Change has finally come, which is also this week’s photo challenge.

Monday – I came in to work, to find that the Bradford pears across from my desk were in full bloom.  They didn’t seem quite as lush as last year, but pretty nonetheless.

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From last year; I didn’t bring my camera fast enough to get this year’s blooms.

Tuesday – My car had a fine layer of yellow pollen on it.  The windshield needed a wash before I pulled out of the driveway in the morning.  The cherry trees on Brown’s Island were in bloom.

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Brown’s Island from the canal side.

Wednesday – My car is streaked with yellow pollen.  On the way in to work at 8 am, I happily noticed that the ends of the tree branches were swollen with green.  Anytime now, I thought, anytime and we will have leaves.  When I went out at noon to run an errand, the trees had leafed out!  Of course, 90 degree temperatures helped accelerate that considerately, but there was green everywhere.

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The rose garden at the botanical gardens.

Thursday – The cherry blossoms are already past peak and the Bradford pears are leafed out, their white blossoms gone for another year.

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Friday – It rained, the temperature went down, the cherry blossoms came down quicker yet, and everything looked greener.

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Saturday – The trees are continuing to leaf out, my car continues to be loaded with pollen in the mornings, and a moderate 75 degrees made for a nice afternoon reading on the deck after taking a walk at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.  Best yet, the mosquitoes are not out yet, although the turtles certainly are.

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It’s definitely not a snapping turtle. This year, the turtles are huge,
much bigger than they were several years ago.

And the beagle doesn’t know it, but the new package of squeak toys has one of his beloved soccer balls.  We haven’t given it to him yet, but his Daddy will probably do some throwing tomorrow so the beagle can have his play time.

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Someone was in the kitchen wondering if he was going to get a treat!

The unlabeled photos were taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

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.

So Many Signs of Spring #1

I did go to the botanical gardens for a spring walk last Sunday afternoon.  My intention was to share my walk with you, the things I thought about, and the things I saw.

But life isn’t going that way.  As I write this, I am less than an hour away from my daughter arriving for a long weekend.  She’s working from our house the next few days (and I’m working too), but we will have her all the way through Sunday.  Yippee!!

I’ve got the bed made up for her, some cooking done for my lunch, and am now taking a few minutes to let you know I’m not sure I’ll be posting much these next few days.  If time permits, I’ll put up a few pictures.  Otherwise, I will be busy trying to win Scrabble with a child who knows as many words as I do.

Of the many pictures that I took on Sunday, this was the one that best signified Spring to me – tulips and a robin.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Have a great week!

Daybook Entry – March 31

FOR TODAY  – Saturday Evening, March 31

Outside my window… it’s dark outside.  The days are staying light much longer now.  The rains from earlier have passed and the stars are shining brightly.

I am thinking… that I had a good day today.  I read a whole book at one time (yippee!), took a long nap and had a good swim before the health club closed for the evening.  My favorite boy toy is watching a video in his office and then we’re watching British people kill each other (another episode of Midsomer Murders).

I am thankful…that I had today to relax and recharge.  And that my boy toy understands that after a hectic, busy week, I need this downtime.

In the kitchen…the dishwasher is running and our spaghetti supper is all cleaned up.  The dog’s water has been picked up for the night, but that’s not stopping the beagle from obsessively licking the dog bowls clean.  His soft tongue is also cleaning out the ants that found their way to the dog bowls.  No, that’s not the grossest thing he eats.  He’s the reason the dog poop has to be cleaned out of the yard every day.

I am wearing… my soft blue jeans and an old black top.  The top is too faded to wear to work, but it’s really comfortable.  I’m so hot from my swim though I’m thinking of putting on some shorts.

I am creating… my book!  I’ve written a few chapters every weekend.  I wish I had time for more, but I am happy to be making progress on it.  I also created a new header on my blog (picture below) from the trees in bloom at the botanical gardens.

I am going… to bed early tonight.  My swim was better than usual but it’s got me rather knocked out.

I am wondering… if my blog link at the botanical garden website will bring more traffic to my blog.  I hope so.  They were thrilled with my pictures and text.  I was thrilled that they linked me to their site.

I am reading… Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner.  It’s about that middle time when you feel life is falling apart and God has moved away from you.  I’m enjoying it, although it doesn’t seem to have much of a point yet.  I’m also reading It Won’t Be Yoga by Melissa Camara Wilkins.  Melissa is the coordinator of the Six Words Friday that I participate in.  Her essay is a humorous look at her efforts to exercise with small children underfoot.

I am hoping… to get everything done tomorrow that needs to be done before the new workweek starts.  I did laundry and vacuuming last weekend.  This weekend is a bit more laundry, cleaning bathrooms and paying bills.  Oh goodie.

I am looking forward to… going to the botanical gardens tomorrow and see what else is in bloom.  Hopefully the sky will be a pretty blue and not this flat gray we’ve been having lately.

I am learning… not much lately.  I’ve had a real lack of time and energy and am just trying to get done the minimum to keep things functional.  I am trying a new diet though.  We cut the beagle’s food in half and have been adding big piles of green beans to it.  He’s been more full, less begging and is starting to loose some weight.  I’m trying the same.  I’ve added a lot more vegetables to my diet and cutting portion sizes more.  I haven’t lose weight yet, but I’m only a few days trying it.

Around the house… are books and papers everywhere.  I don’t think it’ll take long to clean it.  I just don’t feel like doing it.  Maybe tomorrow I will.

I am pondering… how to current with all the blogs I follow and enjoy.  I don’t want to cut back on reading them, but I am not keeping up very well.  There’s so much good stuff out there, but it’s zapping time for my own things.  I am also pondering creating essays for publication based on the life lessons learned from my maternal and paternal grandparents.  My favorite boy toy surprised me today when he enumerated all the things he’d learned from my grandparents.  I had no idea he’d listened that closely to them.

A favorite quote for today…

. . . middles are often defined by what they are not:
the space, the years in between that which is no longer
what came before and that which is not yet what will come later.
. . . the term “Middle Ages” implies that the stretch of time under
consideration is less interesting than
the exaltations of classical grandeur
or the wonders of today. 

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner

One of my favorite things… is talking to my daughter most days.  I’m enjoying relating to her as an adult, getting her input on problems I’m having at work, and hearing about her days.  We’re much closer than I thought we would be at this time.

A few plans for the rest of the week… it’s quarter close and my team is running late.  Monday everything must be done.  Hopefully there will not be unusual overtime next week though.  The process has improved a lot since I first started working at my employer.

Here’s my the new header picture for my blog.  This was taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens a week ago.

Thoughts on Not Traveling Light

One thing about my favorite boy toy and I is that we do not travel lightly.  Not only do we have our clothes and toiletries, but we also have our cameras, tripods, laptop, iPads, and books.  Depending on how long I’m gone, I may even have my work laptop with as well.  Of course, we are driving to our destinations and not flying.  If we were flying, there would not be as much going with us.

There are some very good arguments as to the need to travel lightly.  This includes physical security over your possessions, ease of travel, flexibility especially for public transportation, and simplicity.  They all make sense to me.

But. . . my fun would be greatly diminished.  I enjoy taking pictures.  I like downloading them, blogging, and reading my E-mails.  I read during downtime, before bed, and when my boy toy is spending yet another hour waiting for something to be just thus and so to take his own pictures.

Alexandra Stoddard, a philosopher of contemporary living, has a wonderful essay on traveling heavy in her book, Things I Want My Daughters To KnowShe tells how she loves things and she loves to travel.  She says that each time she travels lightly, she’s regretted it.  She tells her daughers they will be the happiest when they are prepared and that “being self-sufficient in a strange place is empowering”.

I particularly liked this quote from the essay:

Travel heavy to live big, significant lives. Have a stimulating career.
Have children. Have a dog. Have plants you need to water.
Have a personal library. Have dinner parties.
Collect inanimate objects simply because you love them.

The beauty you surround yourself with enriches your soul. . .
Now is the only time to enjoy these possessions that make you happy now.

When I read this years ago, I realized that my traveling lightly was not serving me well.  I didn’t like going on the road only to have no way to relax except by watching television.  I made sure to travel with a few books, a small piece of needlepoint, a yoga DVD and a yoga strap.  It made my business travels much more enjoyable.  Of course, since I was flying, I had to leave my good needlepoint scissors behind and instead take a pair of child’s blunt nose scissors for cutting my threads!

I don’t want to drive with so much stuff that it takes multiple trips to empty the car.  But I do want my possessions that I enjoy, the things that make my trip worthwhile.  If I can’t take my pictures, download and enjoy them, why bother traveling?

Alexandra Stoddard’s quote is also talking to the bigger issues of life.  Does a minimalist life serve us well if we feel deprived of the things that bring us joy?  Dogs are expensive, children even more so.  Yet both bring love to us.  Flowers bring us beauty, whether from the store or in our yard.  Do we not spend money on them and therefore not enjoy?

If you prefer or need the flexibility of traveling light, do so!  But for me, I’d rather not.

The Bradford pear trees on Brown’s Island are in full bloom.  As I took pictures, the petals were falling as fast as snow, making it like a wonderland to walk beneath them.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

For some resources on traveling light, read here and here.  For a good article on traveling heavy, read Bill Kennedy’s article on the personal article he takes with when he travels.

Spring at Pennsbury Inn

One of the things we like about Pennsbury Inn is their gorgeous grounds.  Although they are several weeks behind Virginia, spring has arrived there also.

I noticed the pretty smell when I walked past this.  It smells like lilacs and looks like lilacs, but I forgot to ask if that’s what it was.

The pussy willow was also in full bloom.  I haven’t seen one of these in years.

The side garden had a beautiful Lenten Rose.

I flipped one over to show you the inside.

Notice how the low trees are red tipped with new leaves?

Here’s a close-up of the little red leaf buds.

Okay, so this looks like it hasn’t been cleaned for spring yet.  Except that when I approached it, there was all kinds of splashing, then silence.  I waited a while and got this:

Here’s what was really there though – if you double click to blow it up, I’ve marked seven frogs in the pond.  There could be more, but unlike the child’s game Where’s Waldo, the frogs are not brightly  marked!  If they’d not gone splashing around, I’d not have noticed them.

Here’s the rose garden from last year.  The daffodils were pretty, but the roses were not yet swelling with buds.

It was warm enough that I could sit out in the gardens and just relax.  And take pictures from where I was sitting.  I liked this picture because of the symmetry of the curve in the sky.

I took this one from the chair too.  I don’t know why those couple of branches are so dark.  That’s not a camera effect – it truly looked like that.

Anyhow, enough sitting around.  During my walk around the grounds, I took this picture  just because I thought it was cool.

And I liked the texture in this one.  Aren’t these trees just huge?

Every garden needs a touch of red.  I took this from the window of our room the next morning.  Can you tell that it was quite a bit colder by how fluffy the cardinal is?

So that is spring at Pennsbury Inn.  Click here for a prior post about Pennsbury Inn and click here for the next post about visiting Chadds Ford.

Bye To Winter

Earlier this year, I started taking daily photos.  It was a challenge for me to find something every day to photograph.  The various articles that I’d read (see the sidebar for links) encouraged it as a way to increase creativity, improve photo technique, and at the end of the year, have a visual diary of one’s life. 

Initially it was hard to find something every day to photograph.  I started photographing downtown when I went on my daily lunchtime walks, then found I had some good pictures – better than I expected.  My favorite boy toy loved mugging for the camera.  The dogs didn’t care as long as they got treats.  When all else failed, I took dog pictures at night and even that didn’t happen very frequently. 

When I started this though, winter was still in full swing.  I practiced patience by reminding myself that without the leaves, I saw much more than I would otherwise see.  Things were more open and less hidden.  But it felt like the days of  bare trees and brown grass just went on forever!

And then one day it didn’t.  I finally felt like I said bye to winter. 

Word for tomorrow – ATTAIN.  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”.