Friday, February 29, 2008

Photohunt: Party

My first thought, when I saw that the photohunt theme this week was party, was of a political party. The United States political parties are in the process of nominating a candidate for the general election. My daughter took the photograph below after she heard one of the candidates for the Democratic party speak, Senator Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton. At the same time she got to hear Former President William Jefferson Clinton speak.
One more shot and this is from a different kind of party. My maternal grandmother lived to be 103. For her 100th birthday all of her children (except my mom who died 14 years before the party), all of her grandchildren, and all of her great grandchildren gathered for her party. I like the shot below of my grandmother surrounded by her great grandchildren.In 1940 my grandmother and her husband were part of the Democratic Party's delegation that went to the convention which nominated President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the third time. At my grandmother's funeral my uncle told stories that he heard from family friends who were part of the delegation that rode the train to the Democratic convention. My uncle said that his father was enjoying a party of a different kind from the political one. President Roosevelt ended prohibition during an earlier term, and according to my uncle there was quite a party going on during that train ride from the Appalachian mountains to the 1940 Democratic Convention in Chicago. I was named after my mother's father who died when she was two months old. Granddaddy Pat, the one who knew how to party on the way to the Democratic Party's convention, was my Grandmother's second husband.

Photohunters post on Saturday at the home of the hunt, here

Early birds can be accessed at
technorati here:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Too early I bid the tulip tree blossoms adieu

I know my neighbors thought I crazy all week as I have scurried about photographing the tulip trees every hour or so, trying to catch the blooms as they opened.
I know from experience that if the buds are small enough they can handle some pretty cold weather. However, if they are too far along too soon, all it takes are a few really cold nights and that's it.
There's no way that a tulip tree whose blossoms are almost open, in the North Carolina piedmont, in late February will last more than the blink of an eye or a snap of the camera button.That's why I have taken so many photographs of the tulip trees which have been fooled by some moderate weeks this winter. Since the premature end of the blooms came today, before the blossoms ever fully opened, I decided to devote an entire post to the tulip trees.When I noticed the birds' water dish on my deck was a solid block of ice, I took my camera with me when I went to the bottom of my driveway to get the newspaper. The photographs immediately above and below this paragraph were taken early this morning (Thursday). The first four shots in this post were taken this Monday through Wednesday.
When I went to the dentist mid morning for a check up on my recently pulled tooth, I noticed there was still some life in some of the blossoms I've been watching so closely all week. The check up went fine, I'm healing nicely but alas, by the time I got home, the tulip trees blooms were faded to the browns of winter.
I'm hoping that amidst the brown withered blooms there are a few tiny buds which will make a come back for a couple of full, open blossoms. If it happens, chances are I'll be at the ready for a snap, snap of the camera. Until then I bid the premature tulip tree flowers adieu.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fun scan, thank you, robins

Fun and scan don't usually work together in one sentence but below is the result of my fun brain scan. If you want to get an internet brainscan, you can go to the link below and type in your name. I found out about this scanner at Medblog Addict's site on this post. I think her scan looks more sane than mine. My brain below looks like I am a split personality.

You can get your brain scanned here .

I want to thank SabineM who passed on the friendship award to me. I have been very lucky to have met Sabine through blogging. I value our frien
dship and always enjoy visiting her blog. Trinity at Rooms of my Heart started the friendship award with this post. I found Trinity's blog through the photohunters and Sabine's too for that matter. I thought this was such a thoughtful award badge that Trinity came up with and I also appreciate Sabine for thinking of me for it too. I am going to end this post with some more robin shots. I may get predictable with shots of robins because they are out in full force. They aren't even flying up into the trees any more when I walk out.This pair started out coy. They were pretending not to notice each other as they hunted for brunch. Before the photo session was over they were getting a little more intimate. I decided to leave them alone as I don't want to be a birdie voyeur.
Once spring has sprung they will be flying so close to me when I get near THEIR overgrown azalea bush, I'll fear a collision. They make their perfect nests deep in the bush year after year.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Number 25

My weekend snaphot will be thematic this week. The theme will be spring is in the air. Where I live, the official last frost date is April 14. Of course we all know that nature doesn't look at calendars.Last year by mid April the gardens and trees were so far along, after a moderate winter, that it looked like summer. Then BAM, on April 20th we had record breaking low temperatures and the leaves on the pecan and mulberry trees died along with a multitude of flowers. Therefore, as happy as I am with all the signs of spring I'm hoping the growing season doesn't plow ahead too fast.
I've already had some damage from freezing rain that pounded on some early flowers. The first shot of the American Robin is a sign of spring I love. Around this time of year the robins begin to forage for food and can be spotted strutting around my back garden. This one flew up to a tree to wait out my photo shoot but the minute I walked on by, it hopped back down to the ground. The second shot is of a magnolia liliflora (tulip tree) which is the first flowering tree I usually see. I found out it is technically a shrub but this tree is at least 18 feet tall. I read that they can get up to 13 feet but apparently this one didn't read that book and kept growing.
My camellia is starting to bloom and is usually the first bush that has blossoms at my house. It also already has some winter damage. You can see the brown in the center of the blossom above. Some of the buds which haven't opened are brown and may not do much but I am enjoying the early flowers anyway.
The narcissus above is holding it's own although it has been slightly bowed down since the freezing rain we had this week. My narcissus usually blooms a few weeks before my daffodils. My daffodils are budding out but they wait for my daughter's birthday to open all the way up. When I went into labor in 1985 there was snow and ice on the ground and nothing was blooming. After my daughter was born the sun came out and when Bill came home to pick up a few things, the daffodils were in full bloom. I told my daughter the story of how the flowers bloomed in honor of her birth. The funny thing is my neighbors daffodils are already blooming but the special ones that I think of as my daughters, are holding out a week for her birthday before they will open. They often do that so I'm expecting to see them wait until March 2 to open.I'll end with my crocuses which are invariably the first flowers to bloom. They've already been beat down by sleet but opened back up and are doing fine. These snow crocuses live up to their name and don't seem to mind the back and forth weather we're having.

You can find other participants here - Weekend Snapshot or on Technorati here -

Friday, February 22, 2008

Photohunt: Wooden

When I saw that the photohunt theme this week was wooden, my first thought was a wooden expression or a wooden performance by an actor. Ironically, my first wooden photograph is of my laughing Buddha who is literally wooden but has a very animated expression on his face. His smile is not wooden at all but is rather happy and full of fun.For the rest of this post I am going to feature my wooden screen. The coromandel screen below is very heavy which is why I wasn't able to do as good of a job of showing you both sides of the screen as I would have liked to.

The screen is in a corner of my living room so you can only see one side most of the time. Each of the 4 panels has distinctive work on each side. I had forgotten how much I liked the other side until I tried to photograph some of it for this post. The first 3 photographs are of the side of the wooden screen that you can see in my living room. When the screen was in my parents' house, they had it turned the other way. I think part of the reason why I have it turned the way I do is that I grew up looking at the other side. When I first moved the screen (or rather had friends move it as it's very heavy) into my house, I decided to try it on this side for a while.
For the purpose of the wooden photohunt, I wanted to shoot both sides of the screen. However, I didn't risk turning it all the way around by myself as it's quite old and fragile, as well as being heavy, and I was afraid of dropping it. I carefully folded it part of the way around and only managed to shoot two of the panels on the other side. Below is what I could shoot of the side which faces the wall.

According to an article I found about coromandel, the technique involves applying layers of wet clay to the wood, baking them in order to harden the clay, then applying several layers of lacquer. Once the lacquer dries, intricate patterns are carved on to the furniture, which is then painted with a protective finish.
I suppose I should try to find out if there is something I can do to preserve it better. I know that it's quite old and there was some damage long before it became mine. Now that I have looked again at the side of my screen which I currently have against the wall (the last 3 shots), I think I realize why my parents, always had it turned that way. Perhaps I'll get Bill to help me turn it that way soon for a change since I've had it the other way now for 10 years.

Photohunters post on Saturday at the home of the hunt, here -

Early birds can be found on technorati here -

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Watching the lunar eclipse and garden friends

I am posting two collages today. If you click inside of them they should be enlarged enough to see the individual photographs. First - watching the lunar eclipse unfold. I didn't get any definitive shots so I bring you a hodgepodge.
My second collage is of shots of friends in my garden. There again, the individual shots aren't that great but I thought they would work in a collage.
I don't have much to say, boy that's a first, ha. So I guess I'll leave it with those two collages from my part of the earth.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Message in a Bottle - I love the mountains

Mimi has come up with a cool new meme called the Message in a Bottle Meme. My message in a bottle is below. You may have to click inside the graphic below to read the message which I put in the graphic Mimi created. Note Mimi has set up a new site just for all these messages in a bottle so check them out at Message in a Bottle.
The way this meme works is you copy the blank graphic from Mimi's site on her Message in a Bottle Meme post , you can then put your own message in the bottle and post it. You are supposed to tag a minimum of five people or your whole blog roll. Since I'm too slow for tag, if you want to participate, consider yourself tagged by me and please let me know so I can see your message in the bottle. For anyone who has read my blog, or who knows me, it is probably not too surprising that I'm not going to stop here. Yes, I am going to jump up on my soap box. If anyone is here from Mimi's Mr. Linky and doesn't want to hear my long winded explanation for my message in the bottle, this would be a good place to stop. However, I thought some of you might be interested in the I love the mountains effort.
I love the mountains and I love the beach. Somehow I liked the idea of my message, coming ashore on the blogosphere's beach, being about the I love the mountains campaign to end mountaintop removal. Similarly if I buried a message in a blogosphere mountain, it could be about the destruction of the fragile shoreline ecosystem. I am fortunate to live in a state with mountains at the western end and beautiful beaches at the eastern end. The state I live in, North Carolina, isn't currently using mountaintop removal for mining coal, but when I went to the site about this practice and plugged in my zip code, I found out that my energy company does use coal mined from this practice. Mountaintop removal is a radical form of coal mining in which entire mountains are literally blown up -- and it is happening here in America on a scale that is almost unimaginable. If you go to the I love the mountains site you can learn more about this practice which is going on in KY, VA, TN, and West Virginia, and you can join with others who are trying to stop it.
I should mention that so far as I know, the photographs I'm using for this post are not directly related to the issue. The photographs were taken by me this fall at the James River Park in Virginia. The industrial plant that I shot was on the way to the park from Bedford, VA where we were staying. If you look at any shot of a mountain range and imagine it being blown us so the tops are flattened, you can get an idea of what this practice does. One of my MPIP friends who lives in KY has become involved with a grassroots effort in her community to stop this practice. She attended the I love the mountains rally which you can read about on the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth site. I was pleased to see photographs of people of all ages involved in this cause. Mountaintop removal is devastating hundreds of square miles of Appalachia; polluting the headwaters of rivers that provide drinking water to millions of Americans; and destroying a distinctly American culture that has endured for generations.
The appalachian mountains are near and dear to my heart. My mother grew up in Boone, NC and her mother lived in the mountains her whole life. For that matter, my father grew up near the NC coast at the eastern part of the state. I have roots in, and an affinity for, both of these vulnerable eco systems. It doesn't matter either whether it's in one state or another. It's all part of our finite planet. I also realize that economics come in to play and communities have to be concerned with jobs and the welfare of the people in a particular area. Sometimes it isn't initially clear that accepting certain industries and practices into a community that promise jobs can actually end up destroying the welfare of the people by polluting the streams and air. These can be very complex issues.I've talked before on my blog about how surprising, at one level, it was when Bill and I were struck by a similarity in our respective grandmother's perspectives and how different they were from ours. My grandmother lived in Boone, NC and across the mountain Bill's grandmother lived in Bristol, TN. Both of our grandmothers wanted to show us new developments and shopping centers in their towns. Too us it was sad to see these ugly developments in what were small mountain towns. To our grandmothers who both lived through the depression these were signs of progress, jobs, improving economies. However, if either of our grandmothers were still alive, I have no doubt that they would be deeply saddened to see mountains literally blown up, not to mention the water pollution and wide range of environmental consequences. So here ends my message in the bottle. Between now and earth hour (the top of my blog has information about earth hour), I will try to post about some of the issues that concern the planet we live on.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Taking the edge off and an award mention

I decided a while ago to try and combine photo shoots with doctor's appointments to take the edge off the nasty stuff. When I went to UNC in September for my routine surgical oncology check up, I was able to go to the NC Botanical garden's art in the garden show. I went to the NC art museum art walk after a pain specialist appointment in October. There have been photo shoots after other appointments along the way and it helps. In January when I had the consult with an oral surgeon at Duke, I took a few pictures. However, it was barely above freezing and pouring rain, so I didn't get very far with it. Today (Monday), I went back to Duke, to have the abscessed tooth pulled (not too bad all things considered) and again it was rainy. However, I took my camera in case I arrived early and it stopped raining. I lucked out.
It stopped raining and I had a good 15 minutes to kill before my scheduled extraction. The first shot is of Baker House where the oral surgeon's office is and I was able to get more detail than when I shot it before. In the second shot you can see the Duke Chapel Steeples in the background. The chapel isn't as close to the out patient clinics as it appears in the photograph, but the steeples are easy to spot from the parking lot. After I parked, I took a few shots from the fourth floor of the deck, so I could get the steeples in a picture. Most of the photographs were shot after I left the parking deck.I like the details on the clinic building's windows and doors. I'm not going to say that having an interesting building, that is aesthetically pleasing, to go into for a tooth extraction actually makes it a pleasant experience to get a tooth pulled. Hell no. That would be absurd.However, if you have to get a tooth pulled anyway, it might as well be in a building which lends its self to photography. The weather was even better when I left but I didn't feel like taking photographs afterwards so I'm glad I got some half way decent ones beforehand.
Duke hospital is a modern building and has some unpleasant memories for me in terms of the end of my father's life. Therefore, I was glad the oral surgery clinic at Duke was in Baker House. When I go to UNC hospital for my melanoma follow-up, I am not in the older part of the campus where the beautiful old stone buildings are. I did get some pretty good shots last time I saw my surgical oncologist at UNC of the clouds reflected in the nuclear science hospital. Perhaps, next time I go to UNC, I'll make a point of going to the older part of campus for a photo shoot. I know I enjoyed my photography session at Duke today, in spite of being there to get a tooth pulled.
Last but not least I want to end this post with a thank you to Starnitesky who blogs at From My View for mentioning me for the E for Excellent award in this post. Starnitesky is studying photography in college and specializes in landscape and floral photography. I am so glad to have discovered From my View as I enjoy the photographs and posts at From My View.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weekend Snapshot: Number 24

Bill and I went to Lake Lynn for our Saturday walk. I usually post photographs from Shelley lake which is in my neighborhood. However, Lake Lynn is only about 2 miles from me and has a thriving population of wildlife which in some cases differs from what is found at other near by lakes. I am always struck by the muscovy ducks at Lake Lynn, but yesterday is the first time I went there armed with a camera.
The muscovy ducks are not the least bit shy. I found the biggest problem with photographing them is that when they realized I was there, they would start waddling towards me.They are quite large and look a little bit like a cross between a rooster and a duck, at least that's how they seem to me.
At first I was surprised by how unafraid of people they seemed to be, until I realized they were begging food and quite a few people were tossing them treats.
No, my camera is not a treat. Back on off big fella so I can get a better shot.
I don't know what kind of ducks the pair swimming above are, but they are pretty wild looking. They are as big as the muscovy ducks and have red faces that are similar. I read that muscovies will breed sometimes with other ducks so I guess they could be a cross between a muscovy and another type. If anyone recognizes them, I'd be curious if they are a type I am unfamiliar with.
There were also some more common ones like the mallards above.
The big white duck above reminds me of a duck that used to chase us around a lake when I was a teenager. I'd go quack, quack, quack, and this one duck would literally run straight at me. Taught me a lessons about speaking a language I didn't know. No telling what I was saying in duck speak.

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