Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sunshine Came Softly

It's been cold, dull, snowy and blowy for the past several days. I have a few photos which I took around Frank's place a couple of weeks ago when the golden sunshine was with us, along with a couple of shots from closer to home. Please remember to click on each photo to enlarge them.

Sunshine came softly through my a-window today. ~ Sunshine Superman (Donovan)
From my kitchen window, plants soak up the sunshine, longing for summer days when they will enjoy the outdoors once again. (please click to enlarge)

So let us mind what's there to see before our hearts become too cold.
In spite of all that we've been told, some things that glitter may be gold.
~ Some Things That Glitter (Queen)

Along the path, close to home, a lone pine cone lays upon the snow, soaking up sunshine - its own warmth radiating from golden hues. (please click to enlarge)

Seize upon that moment long ago. One breath away and there you will be. So young and carefree Again you will see That place in time... so gold. ~ Stay Gold (Stevie Wonder)
As the sun begins to set, a golden hue kisses the snow surrounding the creek. (please click to enlarge)

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley.
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in the fields of gold.
~ Fields of Gold (Eva Cassidy)

This brush holds itself above the snow and ignites with colour in the light of the golden sun. (please click to enlarge)

Walk in the Light
That shines so bright.
Let your soul feel right
Love is pure gold.
~ Pure Gold (Earth, Wind & Fire)
Golden skies warm the icy waters of the mostly-frozen creek. (please click to enlarge)

When the sun burst through the skies.
There was a band playin' in my head
And I felt like getting high.
~ After the Gold Rush (Neil Young)
As the sun settles on the horizon, brilliant shades of gold blaze across the sky - its beam illuminating the snow. (please click to enlarge)

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hues.
An ever lasting vision of the ever changing views.
A wondrous world of magic in bits of blue and gold.
A tapestry to feel and see impossible to hold.
~ Taspestry, (Carole King)
Warming hues of gold and blue envelope the tree with a goodnight hug. (please click to enlarge)

Golden slumbers fill your eyes.
Smiles awake you when you rise.
~ Golden Slumbers (The Beatles)
After a long walk on a cold winter's night, the crackling fire warms me with its fiery flame and golden embers. Goodnight. (please click to enlarge)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Doggone It!

Last week, I visited my cousin and good friend, Marcy for dinner. Sadly, someone in her family is a kleptomaniac.

Marcy and I had our usual evening of chatting, laughing, eating and drinking - enjoyable as always. Her daughter was out for the evening so it was just the two of us and her three critters.

Ziggy, the oldest, is a cat who is a tad ornery, and has been known to hiss at company for no apparent reason. He's never treated me with anything better or worse than bored disinterest. Mostly he keeps to himself.

JJ is her large, goofy English Pointer. That's his photo up above. He's not the brightest bulb in the chandelier (his dimmer switch is perpetually set to low-lighting) but he loves everyone and everything on two legs or four. And he loves attention. JJ can sit in front of me for hours trading off paws. When I'm doing anything other than giving him my undivided attention, he'll lift a large, clumsy paw and rest it heavily on my forearm. Once this gets to be tiring (after 3 seconds), I'll remove his paw and plant it securely on the floor. He'll immediately lift his other paw and replace the first one with that. He can go on like this for as long as I can endure it, never tiring of this activity before I do. Eventually, he'll realize that I've had enough (when I'm curled up in the fetal position in the corner), and he'll wander off to chase Waffle.

Waffle is the newest member of the household - a fluffy orange kitten who thinks she owns the joint. Playful and rambunctious, as a feline should be, she torments Ziggy and keeps in step with JJ. It's a tad chaotic when JJ gallops through the house in hot pursuit of this little fur ball, but it's fun and endearing to see them play, while Ziggy watches from beneath the table, hoping that they'll just leave him alone.

At one point in the evening, I asked Marcy for a particular phone number and she wrote it down for me on a small slip of paper. I have a tendency to misplace small items like that, so I decided I'd best put it in my wallet immediately. We continued chatting and enjoying our Cuzzie time for a while, but eventually it was time to go. I grabbed my purse and found it to be unusually lightweight. Hmmm. a quick look inside confirmed that I didn't appear to have replaced my wallet. I began looking for it in the kitchen, which was where I accepted that phone number. It wasn't there. Marcy has an average-sized home. It's neat and uncluttered, and I hadn't been in too many rooms, so my wallet shouldn't have been hard to find. A first, second and third check of the dining room, living room, kitchen and bathroom did not reveal my misplaced wallet.

I began to wonder if I had even brought it with me. Perhaps I'd left it out at home, and I never even put that phone number into it. I didn't actually recall handling it, and neither did my cousin remember seeing it. In that case, the phone number would mostly likely be in one of my pockets, but they were empty. No, I had my wallet - it was just missing. Eventually, it occurred to Marcy that however unlikely, maybe JJ stuck his nose into my purse and took it. As a last resort, we went upstairs to where she keeps his crate and looked inside. There, along with a tissue and a small stuffed animal, was my missing wallet.

It turns out that JJ is a lot smarter than I thought, and Marcy has him trained well. Imagine what she could do with a pet monkey.

Below are a few photos taken from the last couple of weeks. Please remember to click on them to enlarge.

Mid-morning, the sun was hazy as it peeked through the branches of the trees. The surrounding grey-blue sky gave it an eerie glow. (please click to enlarge)

I was having a bit of fun with the macro setting. I found this string of dried out seed pods beside the pond and thought it made an interesting shot. (please click to enlarge)

There's a lovely old willow tree which grows across the dock and suspends over the pond. A few of its branches are in the foreground of this image which shows some unusual crack-like shapes on the surface of the snow-covered pond. (please click to enlarge)

A hanging willow branch as seen from directly below. (please click to enlarge)

This wayward branch reaches out over the lake and away from its surrounding brush to find sunlight. (please click to enlarge)

Cardinals and Sumac seem to add a splash of natural red to the winter landscape. Last week I posted Cardinals. Today the Sumac proudly flashes its colour against the backdrop of the icy pond. (please click to enlarge)

That hazy orb of golden sunlight rays reflects in the duck pond. (please click to enlarge)

Zoomed in a little closer, you can see one of the ducks having a good wing-flap in the water. (please click to enlarge)

Back on the macro setting, you can see the little barbs at the end of these spiky burrs. No wonder they stick to clothes like Velcro. (please click to enlarge)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Depths of Winter

This year is beginning to seem like a repeat of the previous one. We've had a number of snowfalls so far but we probably have a way to go before we approach last year's records. Most of these photos were taken shortly after the most recent accumulation. A couple are from last winter. Please remember to click on each photo to enlarge it.

“There is still vitality under the winter snow, even though to the casual eye it seems to be dead” ~ Agnes Sligh Turnbull
I'm not sure how this plant looked in the warmth of summer, but you can still see where its flowers bloomed. (please click to enlarge)

"It's snowing still. And freezing. However, we haven't had an earthquake lately." ~ A. A. Milne from Winnie the Pooh
Most of the pond is frozen over, but the ducks work hard at keeping a small portion of it open throughout the winter. (please click to enlarge)

"Nature is full of that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand." ~ Henry David Thoreau
Just some snow on the bark of a tree - up close and personal. (please click to enlarge)

“Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into, the mind.” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Usually a welcoming site, this park bench was just a tad inhospitable after the snowfall. (please click to enlarge)

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?" ~ J. B. Priestley
I've posted photos of this spot before. The tree branch which extends over the pond catches my eye in all seasons. (please click to enlarge)

"The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only." ~ Joseph Wood Krutch
Here's the same tree as seen from its pond shore, further along the path. (please click to enlarge)

"Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem." ~ William Hamilton Gibson
A small sprig of needles which fell from a nearby evergreen, partly buried in the snow. (please click to enlarge)

“Sunshine cannot bleach the snow, Nor time unmake what poets know” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
This Downy Woodpecker was partially obscured by a small branch. Photoshop is my friend. (please click to enlarge)

“There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.” ~ William Sharp
This one was actually taken last year, immediately following one of our many snowfalls. (please click to enlarge)

"When they looked out into the whiteness of the world the wind flung it sharply at their narrowed eyes and foreshortened their view of everything." ~ David Guterson from Snow Falling on Cedars.
Another one from last winter. (please click to enlarge)

“It snowed last year too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea” ~ Dylan Thomas
I snapped this shot this morning from inside my kitchen. The little boy next door built this snowman a couple of weeks ago. It's still standing, clothed in hat and scarf, ready to greet passersby. (please click to enlarge)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Benny and Other Flakes

Walking and photography go hand in hand for me. I only need two hands to operate the camera but the challenge comes into play when Benny joins me. Now, ordinarily Frank handles the leash, and he endures the arm-jerks which signal Benny's desire to forge ahead. I can roll my eyes through his quickly-executed run-jump-tackle sequences which he does with all four paws when he's impatient and wants to move on, but his Herculean tugs and jolts make sharp pictures an impossibility. This past weekend, Frank wasn't feeling tip-top, so I was dog-walker and frustrated photographer rolled into one.

The snow poses yet another difficulty where Ben is concerned. When walking alongside me, he looks at every wayward bit of snow my boots kick up, as a contest. In his frenzied little doggie mind, he believes he has to consume each and every flake. So he hovers near my left foot, and watches each time it lifts a clump of snow. Then he pounces on the newly-landed white stuff, and devours it. That was how the first third of our walk went. Hover. Pounce. Devour.

The second third consisted of him shivering uncontrollably and stopping every three minutes to pee what appeared to be enough urine to overflow from an elephant's bladder. And yet he managed to repeat that shaky stream no less than three times over the next ten minutes. When he wasn't peeing, he was barfing. That crazy little pup was filled to capacity from one end to the other and his body did what it could to expel the volume of snow he ingested. Shiver. Pee. Barf.

During this same phase of our walk, I tried to distract him and keep him moving, so that he'd warm up. Benny can't resist a stick. If I have one in my hand, he wants it. He'll jump alongside me, trying to clamp his teeth down upon it. Once he gets it in his possession, he'll challenge me to come get it back, stick at his front paws, tail wagging, head cocked to the side and eyes locked on my hand. If I make a move toward it, he's off like a shot, prize in mouth. In fact, the only way to get it back from him is to find another. Once he sees the new one, he'll drop the first, leaving it forgotten while he tries to master a new conquest. I kept him occupied this way, occasionally allowing him to chase it down and trot along with his trophy. Jump. Chase. Trot.

On the final third of our walk, Benny had warmed up considerably. He was no longer shivering, and both his stomach and bladder seemed to be devoid of melted snow. This of course meant that he was ready to go back to hover-pounce-devour mode. The cold discomfort he suffered minutes earlier was already forgotten. Such is the nature of a terrier. Silly. Little. Twit.

Despite Benny's antics, I still managed to take a few shots of our snowy surroundings. Please remember to click on each photo to enlarge it.

Here's Benny, tromping through the snow, waiting and watching for when I take my next step so he can kill that clump of snow. His face is all frosty from this activity. (please click to enlarge)

The tree branches were weighted down by the snow but the tips of its pine needles glistened in the sunlight. (please click to enlarge)

There wasn't enough snow to disguise this recent branch break. (please click to enlarge)

There are many apple trees along the path. This one has seen better days but it's probably been sitting here since autumn. (please click to enlarge)

The pink pods of the Spindle tree have faded since autumn, but they still contrast strongly beneath their white caps of snow. (please click to enlarge)

Back at home, the fresh snowfall drew several Cardinals into my yard. This beautiful male watched me through the glass door - his mate partly hidden behind him. (please click to enlarge)

When the male moved to the feeder, I could see the female, looking inquisitive and bright. Despite her subdued colours, I think she's even more lovely than the male. (please click to enlarge)

More snow later in the day. I had seen the apple on one of the trees to the left of this path. (please click to enlarge)

Big, fluffy flakes. (please click to enlarge)

The only open water in the pond seemed to have a dull, pink-hued colour. I don't know what caused it but it cleared up by the next morning. (please click to enlarge)

The geese appeared quite unaffected. (please click to enlarge)

Monday, January 12, 2009

All the Night's Magic

"And all the night's magic seems to whisper and hush. And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush"

The above lyrics are from the song Moondance by Van Morrison. It ran through my head the other night as I walked around the lake, full moon up above. The sky was cloudy, but there were clear patches and every so often the moon would come into focus. Below are a few photos taken around the nearby park paths and pond. Please remember to click to enlarge the photos.

The fresh-fallen snow helped to reflect the light. This light source is a nearby lamp post. I just like this tree and photograph it fairly often. (please click to enlarge)

Moon and clouds worked together to tease and delight. (please click to enlarge)

High above the pond, the moon made a brief appearance before disappearing to await the approaching blue sky. (please click to enlarge)

As the wispy clouds threaded their way across the sky, the misty moon peeked through the branches of the trees below. (please click to enlarge)

A lovely golden orb balanced on delicate tree fingers. (please click to enlarge)

There were times I felt that I could reach out and touch it. (please click to enlarge)

Along the tree-lined path, I was interested in capturing the moon's light, but discovered that lights from the homes across the pond were perfectly lined up to appear at the left of each tree. (please click to enlarge)

As my walk neared to a finish, I paused to watch the geese swimming in the amber light of the lamp post. (please click to enlarge)

It was a marvelous night for a moondance.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bricks & Clicks

It's snowing pretty heavily right now, with a threat of freezing rain sometime in the next twenty-four hours. It's unpleasant but my son and I feel safe and warm inside the walls of our home. My pillow and blanket beckon, and I'll surrender to them soon. I feel grateful that those comforts surround me. Others are not so fortunate.

On Sunday morning, fellow blogger Travis Erwin's (One Word, One Rung, One Day) house was ravaged by fire. Thankfully, he, his family and pets (except for one turtle) were unharmed but they lost their home and belongings. His detailed story can be found here.

If you can find it in your heart, and if your finances permit, please visit Habitat for Travis where some of his devoted friends have set up a fund to help rebuild his home. They're requesting donations of $25 (U.S.) a brick, but I'm sure that any amount would help significantly. Times are difficult these days and that's certainly understandable. If you're unable to manage a donation, please offer up your best thoughts for the Erwin Family. I'm certain they will be well appreciated.

Thank you kindly.

Below are a few photos taken over the past few days. Please remember to click on each image to enlarge them.

Despite his safe distance on a limb above me, this little guy kept a wary eye as I approached. (please click to enlarge)

Whereas this brave little sparrow appeared quite unconcerned. (please click to enlarge)

The pond freezes over in winter, but the local ducks and geese usually manage to keep a small area open for themselves. These ducks are swimming close to the border where water meets ice. (please click to enlarge)

A closer look at that patch of ice. It reminded me of an eagle's profile. Do you see it? (please click to enlarge)

And speaking of strange things that I see in inanimate objects, I thought this piece of fallen bark looked like some sort of fish. (please click to enlarge)

The afternoon sun flickered and danced across this tangle of burrs and branches. (please click to enlarge)

The roadside brush seemed reluctant to relinquish the comforting rays of the setting sun. (please click to enlarge)

A gaggle of geese loudly announced their evening departure. I clicked just in time to catch this flurry of wings. My next frame was of bare sky. (please click to enlarge)

Behind the trees, the sun departs in a blaze of glory. (please click to enlarge)

And its final rays brand their reflection into the powdery snow. (please click to enlarge)

After dark, the lamp post resumes shadow duty where the sun left off. (please click to enlarge)