Checking out the neighborhood (8)

(Tall ironweed drying in a field.)

It’s day 8 of the great outdoor adventure.  Hard to believe it’s been a full week already.  Time flies, so they say, when you’re having fun.  I have a feeling it won’t go quite this fast in the depths of winter.

I decided to venture off the property and out into the neighborhood for today’s walk.  It’s another foggy morning here in the Bogs.  The air is chilly and damp with a hint of woodsmoke scenting it.  I don’t know if folks are using their fireplaces already or if it’s the leftover fragrance from a bonfire.  We have our bonfire pile set up and ready to go.  It’s just a matter of finding a good evening for it.

(Three crows.)

Wherever crows are, there is magic.  They are symbols of creation and spiritual strength.  They remind us to look for opportunities to create and manifest the magic of life.  They are messengers calling to us about the creation and magic that is alive within our world everyday and available to us.  ~ Ted Andrews, Animal Speak

I heard the three crows before I saw them.  Three is said to represent creativity, birth, and the mystical.  It was the kind of foggy, misty morning in which the word mystical might easily be applied.

(One of the neighborhood barns.)

It’s likely to stay cloudy today.  One of the local weatherpeople on television said we would have “veiled sunshine.”  I’m not sure we’ll even get that much although I did see a light in the clouds where the sun should be.  We’re getting some of the clouds from the remnants of Nicole that are causing all the heavy rains (in the form of a nor’easter) out east.

(Cornfield in the mist.)

It was fairly quiet out there this morning.  Only a few cars went by as I walked down the road.  I do wish we had wider berms (shoulders) as some drivers tend to want to swerve towards me rather than away.  I always wear bright, bright colors when I walk the neighborhood.  If someone should hit me with their car, they won’t have the excuse that they didn’t see me.

(Weeds in the corn.)

I didn’t see any of the farmers out and about.  The neighbor ladies who usually spend most of their days gardening and mowing their lawns weren’t out either.  Just a guy riding his bicycle, swerving back and forth on the road.  And the crows, of course, as well as a pair of doves were out there keeping me company.

(Variegated leaves.)

The colorful sunsets have returned.  Last night’s was so beautiful that I almost forgot to grab my camera.  M and I stood out on the balcony and watched for a while as the sky turned a variety of colors.

Pretty, isn’t it?


In a fog (7)

Most people look for the sacred in the unusual and the often dramatic, supernatural experience.  But the irony is that the Divine mysteries are found in the ordinary, the mundane and the natural aspects of life — softly whispering to us.

~ Ted Andrews

I went out into the fog this morning for my walk.  It’s a thick fog.  The pond seemed have disappeared until I was practically walking in it.

My walk this morning was a lovely, peaceful, quiet kind of walk.  It was a good way to start the day.

A couple of weeks ago, Bo at Seeded Earth Studio started a series titled Why Photography? She put out a call for guest posts and I am one of those who happily volunteered.  Please join me over there to read my post:  Seeing in Frames.  You’ll also get to see one of the Colorado photos that I’ve been saving for a special occasion.  Thank you, Bo, for the opportunity to share my views and one of my photos.

(Peering through the fog at the reflections in the pond.)

I played around with a couple of the fog shots I took this morning.  The one just above was tinted and flipped (it’s a reflection of a tree in the pond and should be upside down).  I like the way the tinting and the fog combined to create a vignette effect and some graininess.

Busy day (6)


Sometimes I think the autumn season is the epitome of the idea of wabi-sabi.  It’s on days like today that one can really see natural processes at work.  It is, in many ways, the season of decay.  The gusty winds have torn more leaves from the trees and the air smells earthy, with that underlying scent of dying vegetation.  In other words, it looks and smells like autumn.  More like later in autumn, but everything seems to have come early this year.

I find it interesting to note that at the height of summer’s growth and the beginning of autumn’s decay, the colors are somewhat similar:

It rained like crazy here this morning.  It was the kind of morning that encourages you to curl up in a comfy chair to read a good book or just relax as you listen to and watch the rain.  I was not able to do either of those things as I had errands to run this morning, including a much-needed and long-overdue hair cut.

(Looking out the window at a rainy day.)

I did get my walk and outdoor time in this afternoon.  The heavy rain had stopped and we were left with a misty kind of day.  Stepping out the garage door I was greeted by…

… a green frog.  We frightened each other.  You can’t tell by looking at him in this picture but he is a pretty big guy.  I knew I had frightened him when he puffed all up, trying to make himself look even bigger.  (I missed that shot.)  We may have to rename Breezy Acres and call it Frog Land or something of that sort.

(Wind in the maple.)

Since it is such a gray day, I went out in search of color.  There was one red leaf in the branch pictured above that grabbed my attention.  It almost looks as though someone shined a light on it.

The rain has perked up the jewelweed so it might be around for a few more weeks.  Did you know you can use jewelweed as a poison ivy remedy?  It’s pretty handy, too, as it often grows right next to poison ivy.  To use it, crush the stems to extract the juice and apply it to the affected area.  The crushed leaves, applied as a poultice, are also said to work.   I can’t vouch for it, though.  I’ve never tried it.  For most of my life I was not allergic to poison ivy.  I could go out and pick it with impunity.  Whenever we had it in our yard, I’d be the one to go out and pull it.  That worked fine until I was pregnant with our youngest son.  I got my first good rash from poison ivy during that pregnancy.  I’ve been allergic to it ever since.

(Water above and below — leaves floating on the pond after the rain.)

Well, I’d better get back to work.  I have a few chores to do before I can settle in for the evening and relax.  I’m almost hoping the rain continues into tomorrow so I can sink into a comfy chair and read a good book.  Or just listen to and watch the rain.

(This morning’s view of the pond.)

An insanely long post (5)

(Balloon reflection.)

It’s day 5 and I’m feeling like I somehow got far behind where I thought I’d be right now.  However, when I think about that statement, it makes no sense.  I am right here, right now.  Where else could I possibly be?

M and I have been so busy getting out and about, and there is so much of it I’d like to share.  I’m going to have to learn how to sum it up quickly, I think.  Otherwise, I’m always going to be a day or two behind in my blog posts when what I’d rather post about is the current day.

(Raindrops on asters.)

Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the ‘right stuff’ to turn our dreams into reality.  ~ James Womack

It is raining here in the Bogs today.  I thought about putting off my outdoor time until later in the day.  I had just finished my yoga and meditation practice, and I was feeling pretty relaxed.  I decided relaxed is a good way to feel when stepping out the door (not the back door, by the way, with the frogs but the door to the garage which is a favorite spot for spiders but they don’t fall on my head).

Rain is one of those weather conditions that usually keeps me indoors.  When I was a young girl, I used to love to go outside and play in the rain.  I did it every chance I got, something my grandmother, who was often babysitting my brothers and me, wasn’t always pleased about because I also had an affinity for mud.  Jumping and dancing in puddles was a favorite pastime.  I’m not sure when that changed.  No matter.  I’m going to learn to enjoy the rain again.

(This morning’s view of the pond.)

As I debated whether or not to take the camera along, the rain stopped so I strapped the camera around my neck and took my new camera bag along with me just in case it did decide to rain.  It’s not waterproof but it’s water resistant and would keep the camera dry long enough for me to find shelter since I decided I wouldn’t stray too far from home.  I have promised myself to leave the camera behind the next time it rains.  That way I can go out and enjoy it without concerns about what I’m carrying.

The decision to stay fairly close to home slowed me down on my walk which made me more aware of what was happening around me.  Or so I thought.  As I was slowly, almost meditatively, walking along the pond, peering into the meadows to see what was going on in there, I heard a splash up ahead.

Usually when there is a great blue heron feeding from our pond, they fly off as soon as anyone starts down the big hill towards the pond even though there is a good distance between the top of the hill and the back of the pond.  I was surprised and delighted when I turned my head to look in the direction of  the pond and saw this heron feeding, not all that far from where I was standing.  It had a long string of pond weeds in its mouth and it was chewing away at it a little at a time until it finally gulped the last 4-5 inches down in one swoop.  Or one gulp.

I watched it for a while and then remembered I had the camera.  I took a few shots.  I slowly tried to get a little closer, more for the sake of a photo than to actually see it.  My movement frightened it away of course, so I had to settle for listening to the sound of its wings flapping and watching it fly away.

There’s a lesson in that.

The Mum Fest

M and I had a good time at the Mum Fest.  The day was chilly and cloudy, but I think the cloudiness contributed to the way the colors of the mums popped.  There were 20,000 mums arranged in beautiful stripes of color throughout one section of the park.  Vendors were scattered around the block on the streets, and a water ski show took place at various times throughout the day on Lake Anna.  There was also a variety of music.  While we were there Heartbeat Afrika were playing their drums and keeping a good beat going.

For more about the Mum Fest, follow me after the break (in other words, click where it says “read more…”).

Read the rest of this entry »

The Queen of the Mums

This is a Sunday Bonus Post (because I don’t usually do two posts in one day).  Scroll down if you want to see/read my day 4 outdoor adventures post (or click here).

I’ve been lurking for a while over at Views Infinitum, Scott Thomas’  Photography blog.  Sometimes I even do the assignments, but I either keep them to myself or keep the reason behind the photo to myself.  In other words, I don’t officially participate (because, you see, I’m shy that way).

Scott’s latest assignment involves Portraiture.  Karma tried her hand (or camera, as the case happens to be) at it here.  Kathy helped spread the word about the assignment here.  With all that blogging about it, I thought, “hmmm…might be worth a try.”  But portraiture?  I dunno.  I don’t have much interest in it as far as my own photography goes, and I am not very good at it.  It is possible those two things are related, but this is about portraiture not self-analysis.

One of the things I have been trying to do recently is shake myself up in a creative way.  Try something new.  Approach things with a different perspective.  So.  Portraiture.  Why not?

Well, I have no willing victim subject.  There is a shortage of people here in my household.  My husband doesn’t want his handsome face on the internet so there was no point in asking him.  The cats were not appropriate because the assignment clearly states it should be a portrait of a person.  Friends don’t want their faces posted.  My children and grandchildren are not nearby.  That left one possibility:  Find a willing stranger.

I’m not in the habit of walking up to strangers and asking if I can photograph them.  It’s something I should probably learn how to do, but since my preferences in photography don’t include people (with a few exceptions, mostly family and friends), I haven’t been in a hurry to practice those kind of skills.

While at the Mum Fest today I spotted the woman above posing for photos with children, with adults, and by herself.  She obviously dressed for the occasion and didn’t mind all the picture taking.  There was quite a line of people, cameras in hand, waiting for their turn to photograph her so I tried standing back and taking a few shots.

Although it was an overcast day, the light coming through the clouds at the time was a little harsh.  I softened her up with some pink tones to go with her dress, and added some glow because it seemed to suit her and her attire.  I obviously had no control over the background since I was taking a (sort-of) candid shot.

On our way out I saw her sitting by herself, the legion of camera-holding fans having departed for a brief moment.  I asked if I could take her photo.  She agreed and here it is…

Once again, I did a few things in Photoshop.  To be honest, I don’t remember what as I played around with the photo for a while, saving it several different times after doing several different things.  I obviously used the diffuse glow feature once again.   I decided against posting the unretouched photos.

Other options (which I prefer, to be honest):

And that, folks, is why I don’t do portrait photography.  😀

A cycling day (4)


The days are flying by, filled with plenty of outdoor adventures.  I’m already getting a little behind in my posting.  I may switch to posting in the evening instead of in the morning or early afternoon.  I’m not sure how else to keep up and fit it all in.  Things will settle down when the winter weather and winter months arrive, but for now, it’s going to be like the Calvin and Hobbes book title: The Days are Just Packed.

(The Cuyahoga River at CVNP.)

Yesterday morning M and I went to Peninsula where we rented bicycles which we then rode on the towpath trail for a couple hours.  I think we went a grand total of 9 miles.  Maybe a little over that.  Not much, really, on a bike but about all my bottom could handle.  We’ve only recently started getting into cycling and I haven’t quite toughened up yet.  That may change as we are now almost convinced it is time to buy our own bikes so we can go out whenever we like (rather than wait for a rental shop to open).

(Same river, slightly different view.)

We took the part of the towpath trail located within  Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  The day was almost perfect.  Cool, breezy, and mostly sunny with occasional cloudy spells.

(On the towpath trail.)

There is some change to the foliage, but not a lot yet.  Yesterday’s gusty winds brought a lot of leaves down from the trees, most of them not having had the chance to change color before they were torn from their branches.

(Old barn in Boston Mills.)

(Going under a BIG bridge.)

I had a wonderful time.  Fun, that’s what I had.  Pure, unadulterated, fun.  It was the kind of fun that fills your soul with joy and keeps you smiling the whole time and for many, many hours — days, maybe — after when all that’s left of it is the memory (and a dozen or so photos).

(Flower in the woods.)

Later I got to thinking about when I first started blogging and began some of my blogging journey with Bountiful Healing, a blog I started purely for me at a time when I needed a great deal of healing.  I’ve come a long way since Bountiful Healing was created.  I’m walking, hiking, jogging, and now spending a good part of the day bicycling.  Hard to believe that there was a time I could barely walk and my days were spent trying not to think about pain.

Ain’t life grand?

(Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.)

We had lunch at the Winking Lizard in Peninsula.  M and I both ordered from the Seasonal Menu which included a good variety of vegetarian wraps and sandwiches.  One of the great things about the Seasonal Menu is that they buy the veggies from local farms.  Way to go, Winking Lizard!

(Caboose near the visitor’s center.)

The food was delicious, the service was good, and we were able to sit out on the patio and enjoy the wonderful weather.  I had the Hummus Vegetable sandwich (“The ultimate multi-grain bun stuffed with a roasted vegetable medley of zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, tomatoes and red onion. We add  hummus, alfalfa sprouts and melted Muenster cheese”) and M had the Roasted Veggie wrap (“Grilled portabella mushroom with roasted zucchini, yellow squash, red   onion and red peppers, stuffed into a warm flour tortilla with fresh spinach, cheddar and Monterey jack cheese”).

The train (Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad) came through after we finished lunch.  This eventually gave me a chance at a do-over, something we don’t always get in life (or photography) as the train is pulled by the diesel engine in one direction and the steam engine in the other.  The steam engine is the very same one I photographed last weekend with the result of not one good photo in the batch.

(This place is famous for their sweet corn.)

We stopped by Szalay’s for some corn.  They are famous (in this area, at least) for their sweet corn.  M and I have never tried it before.  Having cooked some up for dinner last night, I can unequivocally say (and write) that their reputation for the best sweet corn in this area is well deserved.  It was amaizing.

(Szalay’s pumpkins.)

They were all decked out for Halloween at Szalay’s.  The pumpkins are looking good.  Like everything else in the fruit and vegetables families, they are a few weeks early this year.  I don’t know how that will play out when it comes to keeping a pumpkin on the porch until Halloween.  We don’t put one on our front porch because we live out in the country where the kids are easily amused and entertained by stealing and smashing pumpkins.  I wouldn’t mind providing one for them, but M is against encouraging that sort of behavior.  (He’s probably right.)

(Hay bale spiders.)

They have hay rides and a corn maze (a maize maze!) at Szalay’s.  I’ve never been in a corn maze.  One of the farms located near us has one so M and I are thinking about going over there and checking it out.  More fun.  Yay!

(Rockin’ dead near the entrance to the corn maze.)

While at Szalay’s we noticed people lining up along the railroad tracks.  The steam engine was going to be making an appearance.  We purchased our corn and set off down the road to wait for the train along with a lot of other people.

(You gotta wonder about people...)

I took a few shots.  While they aren’t the best, they are better than my last attempt.

Not too bad.

(This morning’s view of the pond.)

Today will be another packed day.  We’re off to the Mum Fest in just a bit, and then we’ll stop off at New Baltimore.  Today is the last day of the New Baltimore ice cream season.  The stand will be closing for the season so this is our last chance to have a cone or a sundae until next summer.

As you can see from this morning’s view of the pond, we’re having a cloudy day today.  That’s the result of the cool air over Lake Erie.  It’ll probably be like that all day.  If we’re lucky, we’ll get some rain tomorrow.

It’s raining frogs (3)

(September 1, 2010)

Do you remember this guy?  I posted about him way back on September 1st in my post wrongly titled The Toad.  I’m pretty sure it should have been titled The Frog.

(September 19, 2010)

You see, I don’t think toads can do what this little guy (or gal) is doing in the above photo.  It’s clinging to the side of the house after having climbed up the side of the house.  Way up.

This little guy (or gal) has also taken the injunction to be fruitful and multiply to heart.  There are now several of the cute little guys and gals hanging out on the deck.  And on top of the back door.  Hanging out on the back door seems to be a popular spot with the frogs.  It’s not so popular with me as I really don’t care for having frogs fall on my head when I open and step out the back door.  In fact, stepping outdoors via the back door is no longer appealing to me at all so I take other routes out of the house for my outdoor excursions.

(September 24, 2010)

I have noticed that these guys and gals have put on their fall outfits.  As you can see from the photo I took yesterday, there is very little of the light green left.  He (or she) is beginning to resemble the flagstone it is sitting upon.  The one which lives under the umbrella stand (that would be the guy/gal in the first picture) was the same color as the wheels on the stand along with stripes the color of the granite stand.  I haven’t lifted the stand lately to have a good look at him/her to see if there have been any changes.

I think our new guests are  Gray Treefrogs.  They might also be  Cope’s Gray Treefrogs.  Apparently the two are indistinguishable in the field.  They do have different calls, though, so I may have to sit out there some evening and listen for a while.

I’m not sure why they prefer our deck, house, and top of the back door over all the trees in this area.  I would think, especially in the case of the one that keeps raining down off the top of the back door, that a tree would seem a much more hospitable hangout.

(Yesterday’s sunset.)

Last night M and I took the peddle boat out for an almost-full moon ride around the pond.  It was lovely and still quite warm when we went out around 10:00pm.  The gusty wind, which kept changing direction as the cold front approached, moved us around the pond while we sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the moonlight on the water.  In the woods the Great Horned Owl whoo-hoo-hoo-hoo’d.

(This morning’s view of the pond.)

Today we spent pretty much the entire day outdoors.  I would love to tell you all about it but I need to upload the pictures, sort through them, and then write something up to go with them so I’m going to leave it until tomorrow.  It was a very full day of walking, bicycle riding, train watching, and pumpkin picking.

I’m thoroughly exhausted in that relaxed way you get after a full autumn day of sunshine and fresh air.  I’m glad I wrote up this frog post this morning.  Otherwise I’d be rushing to put something together before this day is through in order to meet the blogging part of my commitment.

Oh, and before I forget again…  I posted a static page (look up near the header for 365 Life in the Bogs Outdoors Challenge).  On the page I’ve included a slide show of some of the photos from my outdoor adventures.  I’ll be adding and taking away as time goes on.  Sometimes I put in a few photos that didn’t make it into the main post for the day so you might want to check it out once in a while.