Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cheerful sights everywhere I look

We finally had a day of blue skies but are back to clouds and more rain to come. I think we've been having one or two days of sunshine for every five of rain most of the spring. I know that will help in the long run, particularly this summer if it dries up.
I'll admit I hate seeing the blue skies returning to gray so soon. Never thought that would happen. I longed for rain so long that it's taken a full year of adequate rainfall for me to finally have had enough when the rainy days are out numbering the clear ones by far.I was wondering why so many of my dogwood blossoms are damaged. At first I thought it was the extreme cold in early march after they started budding. Then I realized the cardinals are eating the flowers. Cracked me up that the state bird of NC is eating the state flowers of NC.

Nice to see the Japanese Maples leafing out in their fiery glory. They are so beautiful to me.
Several more tulips have popped up although only red ones so far. I also have white and yellow tulips and in another part of my garden I have some lavender ones.
I continue to have more and more narcissus popping up. I have about eight different varieties of narcissus and several varieties of daffodils. They have staggered when they emerged more than usual.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weekend Snapshot and Nature Notes

I am doing a combo post this week for Weekend Snapshot and Nature Notes. Saturday was Earth Hour and this was my second year participating. I decided to expand my participation and not use any lights during the afternoon on through the earth hour until 9:30 pm. It made me realize that I'm ready for a break in the rainy weather. Since it was rainy and dark all day Saturday I was ready for some light by the time I turned them on at 9:35 pm.I didn't think I'd ever grow tired of rain after the 2007/2008 drought we dealt with where I live, but I was thrilled to see a break in the clouds on Sunday. We have had a very wet March. I think what I'm missed the most is natural light. I took the shot below this morning when I saw some blue in the sky. I was surprised to see that even the oak trees are starting to show signs of new life since they are one of the later trees to do that.
Everything smells so fresh and clean from the rainy week but there has been so much rain there is a whiff of decaying matter mixed in with the more pleasant spring smells. Of course decaying matter will be adding nutrients which is good.
Saturday when we had a few moments without rain falling, I darted out to shoot my first tulip of the year. I didn't even know that they had begun to emerge much less bloom, until I spotted this one when the white daffodils were beat down by the rain.
As a matter of fact, when I first spotted the red above the white from my window, I thought it was a pair of cardinals. Below is a shot I took of a brown thrasher surrounded by the fresh rose foliage. I haven't spotted any rose buds yet but the boughs of my climbing roses are leafing out.
On Friday, I drove through my neighborhood in the rain to snap some shots of the trees which are bursting into bloom every where I look. I knew that the rain was going to beat down a lot of the blossoms so I wanted to snap them while I could. I was correct about that because in addition to rain we had fierce winds and a tornado warning. A tornado did touch down outside of town but I don't think anyone was hurt.Most years, I walk around my neighborhood daily in the spring and photograph the changes surrounding me. However, this year the rain hasn't made that practical but it dawned on me that I could do something similar in my car and roll down the window for shots.
Even on dark, rainy days, the cheerful blossoms of spring brighten up my natural world. The birds do too with their constant chatter. I can also spy on the bathing beauties in their bird bath from my deck door.I guess this is getting pretty long so I'll wrap it up with one last shot. The azaleas are budding out earlier than ever, or it seems like that. I hope we don't get a hard freeze because I have too many azaleas to cover and some are twelve feet tall, as I let my azaleas go wild. April 15 is our average last freeze date but last year I think we had a hard freeze at the end of April which damaged trees and flowers alike.
For other participants you can go to the home of Nature Notes, and the home of Weekend Snapshot.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Photohunters: hands

The photohunter theme this week is hands. It is important when gardening to protect your hands. For that reason, I keep my clean garden gloves on a chair beside the kitchen door. That way, I remember (most of the time) to grab a pair of gloves before I head for my garden.
I could use some extra hands to get my wild and messy garden ready for the growing season. Below is a collage of some of the many parts of my garden that need a lot of work. The top row is my front yard, the bottom is my back yard. You can click inside the collage to enlarge it but I'm warning you, it's a messy mess that needs many pairs of hands to sort it out. Unfortunately, I only have two hands and an aging body.Please visit the home of photohunters on Saturday to find other participants.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness

If you want to learn more about Epilepsy please click on the button above for the Purple Day site. I learned about Purple Day on Michele's beautiful blog - The Rocky Mountain Retreat. Michele is a very talented photographer and I have enjoyed visiting her blog over the past few years. She also has epilepsy and has tonic clonic (gran mal) seizures. I have learned a lot from Michele about epilepsy. She has posted that you don't put a spoon in someone's mouth when they are having a seizure and about other common misconceptions.
On March 26 (today), people are asked to wear purple to support epilepsy awareness. Purple Day was started by nine year old Cassidy Meagan of Nova Scotia, Canada in 2008 to help increase awareness about epilepsy world wide.I decided to look through my photo archives for purple shots so I could drape my blog in purple so to speak. The first shot of my clematis which was lost in a drought many years prior to our most recent drought was taken in 1999 with my first digital camera. The other shots were taken in the summers of 2007 and 2008.I hope you will go to the Purple Day site to learn more about epilepsy. Also, if you have never visited The Rocky Mountain Retreat, Michele's photographs of her beautiful Rocky Mountains never fail to lift my spirits.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nature Notes: Change, change, change . . .

There is a new meme at Rambling Woods which I was intrigued by. To learn more you can click on the badge above or Rambling Woods. Basically all you need to do is step outside, pay attention to what is going on and post a photograph, art, poem, anything you want to serve as your nature notes. Then leave a comment and link at Rambling woods to let her know you have participated.All of the photographs I'm using for my first nature notes post were taken yesterday and change is in the air, on the ground, every which a way I look. The dogwood branch above is the first thing I see when I step out my side door and the buds are getting plumper by the hour. Before long they will open for the dogwood flowers I enjoy.
When I step into my back garden I am practically knocked out by the scent of the daffodils and narcissus. I had early yellow daffodils and narcissus that were zapped by snow the first week of March but a second round are blooming. These are almost all white ones.I do have a number of different varieties blooming and some have yellow, orange, or red centers.When I went to get my mail, the male cardinal stayed up in the tree above my mailbox singing at the top of his lungs. I realized the female was deep in the bush which is behind my mailbox and I suspect she was protecting her nest.
When I was walking in my back yard I spotted my first clusters of wild violets which was a treat.
If you have any nature notes you would like to post, please visit Rambling Woods.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weekend Snapshot: Water Towers and World Water Day

I had the idea of featuring water towers for my Weekend Snapshot since today is World Water Day. The first water tower was shot yesterday so it's my official weekend snapshot since all the others were shot a while back. As it turned out, I was driving home with Bill Saturday when I spotted the water tower below. Since I was at the wheel I said, hey Bill grab my camera and take a picture of the water tower please. He complied and did pretty well since he had to get the camera out of the case fast and figure out how to use my camera with zero notice.
The next water tower is one I photographed when we were at Atlantic Beach, NC back in June of 2008.It's sobering to think about the fact that there are over a billion people in the world without clean, safe drinking water and that 2.6 billion people in the world lack adequate sanitation services.
The water tower pictured above is less than a mile from my subdivision heading in one direction and there is another water tower less than a mile from me heading in another direction. Looking through my photographs of water towers brings home to me how fortunate I am. I posted a lot during 2007 and the first half of 2008 about the drought my area went through, but even at the worse point there was never a question about drinking water, or water to wash clothes. Basically the most we had to do was be more careful about wasting water which is what I've tried to continue with after the drought ended. The farmers were hurt by the drought in my area but the issues for me personally were minor (my landscaping losses during the drought aren't worth mentioning given the realities some people face). I took the two photographs directly above in early March when I was at the NC fairgrounds which is on the other side of town from where I live. I was on my way home from an appointment and stopped to take some pictures and looking in one direction I saw the blue water tower with Raleigh painted on it and in the other direction the larger white water tower.
On the right hand side of the photo above is a white water tower at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC. The buildings in the photo are all part of the UNC Hospital complex. The buildings immediately to the left of the water tower are the new cancer hospital which is nearing the end of construction.
The water tower above is visible from the Durham, NC offices of the company I work for. Something I found interesting reading about some issues relating to water was that over 45 percent of the land surface of water is covered by river basins that are shared by more than one country. There is a lot of information on the World Water 2009 site about shared water. It is remarkable there aren't more water disputes than there are considering its scarcity, in some parts of the world.

To find other weekend snapshots please visit the home of Weekend Snapshot.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Photohunt: Yellow and Sunday is the World Water Day

The photohunt theme this week is yellow. I'm not sure if my neighbor planned for their yellow car cover to match the bush when it bloomed.Another neighbor is from Sweden and their Swedish flag has a cheerful yellow cross.
This building will no doubt end up with the same off white color of the rest of the buildings around it but during construction it has a yellow side.
Last fall/autumn this tree caught my eye with its yellow leaves so cheerful before they fell off.For my last yellow shot I'll include a collage of yellow flowers. First, I wanted to mention that a fellow photohunter Mar told me about World Water Day coming up on March 22. You can read about the UN resolution of 1992 on the World Water Day site. The resolution designated World Water Day to call attention to the plight of the more than 1 billion people who lack access to clean, safe drinking water. You can also check out another World Water Day site which discusses transboundary Water issues and has a lot of additional information.
To visit other photohunters please visit TNChicks home of the hunt.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Earth Hour is in 10 days

If you are interested in participating in Earth Hour this year, you can go to here to sign up. At the end of this post I will insert the video which tells you more about earth hour but all you have to do is join people from around the world and turn off your lights on March 28 at 8:00 pm (your local time) and keep them off for an hour.
Last year for earth hour I didn't use any electricity all day which included not turning on my computer. I may do the same this year, especially since it falls on the weekend again so I hopefully I won't need to work on my computer. I also remember that I tried to start walking for many of my errands which were near by as part of my efforts to be environmentally conscious. I hate to say that I didn't keep that up although I did for several months. Theresa has been posting her Kermie tips on her blog this year, leading up to earth hour. She has some great tips for going green. I have to believe that doing something is better than doing nothing.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weekend Snapshot: Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain

It has rained all weekend long but not knowing what the summer will bring, I am grateful for the spring rains.
I took the first shot from under my umbrella in my back garden and the next two shots were taken through the windshield of my car.
It's such a mix of spring and winter. Many trees are still bare but there are also a ton of buds and flowers.
I'm relieved that some of my camelias are doing okay. Many got brown spots on the buds from our early March snow but I found a few perfect ones to photograph in my front garden.
I'm relieved that the temperatures are staying above freezing for now because of all the spring growth which has taken off. The redbuds in my back garden are already blooming.
One last shot from my back garden. My poor little daffodil bowed by the rain.
To find other weekend snapshots please visit the home of weekend snapshot.