131: Winter fun

I woke up very early on Sunday morning to a winter wonderland.  The overnight forecast was for a light dusting of snow.  As usual, the meteorologists got it wrong and we had a few inches of fresh powder.  What made it more remarkable than previous snows is that it was the kind of snow that sticks to everything so the trees were all covered in what looked like confectioner’s sugar.  It was a beautiful sight.

I had hoped to go out and take a few photos but didn’t find the time.  M and I, a few days before, had decided to pack up our skis and boots and check out the cross-country ski trails at a Nordic ski resort in Pennsylvania.  We had no idea at the time of the amount of fresh snow Mother Nature would provide.

It looked like this when we started out:

(Traveling behind the De-Icer on I-76)

And stopped along the way to find things had changed a bit:

(Rest stop on I-79)

But found we had really entered different territory when started along this road:

(Weeks Valley Road, Wattsburg, Pennsylvania)

I am so thoroughly, utterly exhausted (gotta find a better word for that so I can avoid the adverbs) that you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear the details.

It was an extraordinary adventure.  I saw things I have never seen before.  And I saw myself in ways I’ve never seen before.  Best of all, M and I got to share all this newness together.  It sometimes amazes me that after all this time we still manage to keep things new, as if we’re just starting out on our adventure together.

On that romantic note, I am signing off for the night.  See you tomorrow.  (And for those who asked/wondered…  There WILL be snow.)

130: Be back soon

(Giraffe at the Cleveland Zoo.  2007.)

This was supposed to be an auto-post to let you know that I’m out and about on an outdoor adventure.  For some reason it didn’t post (even though everything looks as it should).

So…  I had an incredible day today which I will tell you all about when I’m settled back at home sometime tomorrow.  Or, if I’m too exhausted after another incredible day of fresh air, snow, and exercise, then I’ll see you on Tuesday with the details.

There will be pictures, too.  I’m excited about that because it meant doing something risky.  I am not known for being terribly risky (I don’t see myself that way).  I’m pretty thrilled.  Even if all the photos are bad, I’m thrilled.

And exhausted.  Time for me to collapse.  Be back soon!

129: King of the Jungle

To me, there is something a little sad about zoos.  I know the majority of us might not otherwise be able to see most of the animals that we can visit in zoos, but still, I find it sad.  That’s especially true when I see the big cats, such as the lion above.

On the other hand, he’s probably living a more comfortable life than a lion in the wild.  Maybe he’s even enjoying it, being able to lounge around and have someone else bring him food.  Oh wait!  That’s often the case with male lions anyhow.  The females do the hunting.  To be fair to the males, they do spend a lot of time and muscle patrolling and protecting their territory.

Did you know that in the 1940’s there were as many as 450,000 lions in the wild?  It may be as few as 20,000 now.  If you’re interested, National Geographic has a Cause an Uproar program to help big cats such as the lion.  They also have a movie, The Last Lions, coming out in February 2011.

Today’s CD

Tori Amos, Boys for Pele.

I’ve been a big fan of Tori Amos for, well, I don’t know.  Since the early 90’s, I suppose.  The person that introduced me to Tori Amos’ music calls her “the goddess of the piano.”

Boys for Pele is not about Pele the soccer player, but about Pele the Hawaiian volcano goddess with the boys being the sacrifices thrown into her fiery pit to assuage her rage.  I was going to write that if you’re not familiar with the music of Tori Amos, you might not want to start with Boys for Pele; however, I’m not sure it matters where you start.  Some of her music can be pretty intense (“Me and a Gun,” a personal story of sexual assault, from her album Little Earthquakes comes immediately to mind) and some can sound almost whimsical in comparison to the heavy stuff while still covering serious or emotional subjects.

Click here to listen to “Winter.”  I picked this song for the obvious reason (it’s winter!).  Or check out Caught a Lite Sneeze (which is from the album Boys for Pele).

More Snow

We had more snow overnight and this morning.  I’m not sure what the total is for the season.  We have about a foot of snow on the deck right now.  There would be more if we hadn’t had a couple of thaws.

(Today’s view of the pond from the cattails.)

It’s still a dark, bluish-gray.  We haven’t seen the sun since last Saturday.  Hopefully we’ll get at least a glimpse of it tomorrow.  I’m told the possibility exists.

(In the woods, by the creek.)

Four deer ran through the outside meadow.  I also saw a red-tailed hawk and a couple of small woodpeckers along with the usual chickadees and doves.  The only other wildlife I saw was M speeding down the hill on a sled.

(A few spots of color.)

I looked hard for something different to photograph.  I’m sure it’s out there.  I just can’t see it.  Yet.  Winter is starting to seem long and slow, stretching into forever.

(In the meadow.)

Of course that isn’t true.  Spring will arrive eventually, followed by summer, autumn, and another winter.  That’s how the wheel turns.  But winter has a way of making it feel like the wheel has paused.

128: An elephant in the room

(An elephant at the Akron Zoo.  Taken in April 2007.)

I have all these critters in my photo archives who suddenly want to come out and play.  It makes me wonder why I take the photos if I’m just going to let them sit on the hard drive.  It’s time to bring some of them to the blog.  Just for fun.

I took this one at the Akron Zoo when we were last there with our oldest granddaughter, the Exquisite Emma.  It was the year the baby snow leopards were born (2007).  I didn’t realize it had been so long since our last visit.  This might be the year to go again.

Today’s CD

Orishas, A Lo Cubano.

Orishas is a Cuban hip hop group, influenced (obviously) by the hip hop movement as well as Cuban and Latin rhythms.  A Lo Cubano was released in 1999.  You can listen to one of the songs from A Lo Cubano here.  (The link takes you to a video on YouTube.)

This CD had me dancing around the house.  It would be impossible not to dance or move in some way while listening to the Orishas.  I’m sure of it.

(Warm and fuzzy with snow.)

Hey!  It’s snowing!

I know, right?  You’re surprised.  Me too.  Heh.  We’re supposed to get another 4 inches or so tonight.  Tomorrow will be a good day for skiing.  Heck, today is a good day for skiing.

(White pine captures snow.)

I was going to wait to go out when M got home from work since he’ll probably go skiing.  But I already put in a 5-mile walk/run this morning (on the treadmill) and thought a leisurely stroll back to the woods was more my speed this afternoon.

(Hemlock captures snow.)

The snow is all fresh and white and clean again.  It has been coming down all day.  The snow is falling slowly, softly, gently, almost floating.  While walking to the woods I had a brief flash of apple blossoms drifting on a gentle spring breeze.  It was nice to feel/sense that touch spring, if only in my mind.

(Queen Anne’s Lace captures… well… you get the idea.)

I disturbed a pair of ducks (mallards) when I slid down the hill to the creek.  I didn’t even notice them until they took off, startling me.  I noticed while they were in flight that they are almost the same color as the creek looks right now.

(The mallards were here.)

A chevron of geese flew over as I was making my way up the hill towards the house near the end of my walk.  I stopped for a few minutes to watch and listen.  They were heading east.  Perhaps they’re looking for the sun.

(Prayer flags in the woods.)

127: Musical interludes


One of my resolutions this year is to include more music in my life.  To sing, to dance, to listen.  I have been turning on the radio every day while I exercise or clean.  Or I go to blip.fm if I’m in the mood to make my own playlist or listen to something specific while I’m at the computer.  Or I visit Radio WTH for a dose of “Just Damn Good Music.”

Today as I was dusting (somebody’s gotta do it) it occurred to me that M and I have a mighty fine music collection of our own that I could be listening to.  While we do have plenty of vinyl (and a turntable to play it on), I decided to start with the CD’s.  I realize CD’s seem to be almost as obsolete as vinyl now that most people have some version of an MP3 player, but our CD collection is fairly up-to-date within our range of likes.  However, being a pretty extensive hodgepodge of music, pulling one at random meant a blast from the past.

Today’s CD:  The Pat Metheny Group’s Still Life (Talking).

It’s been a long time since I last listened to Pat Metheny.  The music took me back to our time in Chicago and a summer night lying on the grass listening to Pat Metheny at an outdoor venue (the name of which escapes me at the moment and I’m too lazy to look it up).  I was not too lazy to wander over to his website, though, and spend a little time listening to Pat Metheny radio.  Head on over (click here) and check it out.

Outdoor adventures

M and I went to Quail Hollow State Park yesterday for an hour of cross-country skiing.  The trails were a little slick.  Not really icy, but with hikers having packed down the snow by walking all over the ski tracks, our skis would slide all over the place in spots.  Most spots.  It wasn’t comfortable skiing, especially when the legs slide in different directions.

(In the woods at Quail Hollow.)

We haven’t seen the sun since the weekend.  It has been dark gray and gloomy.  The snow had taken on some of the grayness but we’re getting a fresh coating today which has brightened it up.

(Skiing at Quail Hollow.)

I’m heading out in a few minutes to do some skiing around Breezy Acres.  I need the practice, and that will help me meet my outdoor commitment for today.  Even when it’s gray and gloomy, I gotta get out there.

126: The Marmot

(Marmot.  Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  August 2010.)

I asked this marmot to step in as a placeholder of sorts for me and he (or she) has graciously agreed.  I need a little break from my usual rambles and long blog posts.

The break will give me a chance to catch up on email, read blogs, leave comments, and all kinds of other good stuff.

Today’s outdoor time will take place late in the afternoon.  M and I are going cross-country skiing at a nearby park.  I’ll take the camera along in case I have time and light to hike around a little after we ski.  Even after taking the ski lesson, I am not confident enough to bring the camera along while I’m on skis.

P.S.  After doing the post about spacing and handwriting (see This and that), I’ve read a few other blog posts on both subjects.  I particularly like Quinn’s post, Bye-Bye Handwriting.

For a sample of my handwriting, click here.  It’s an old post at my other blog, Bountiful Healing.

125: Olives

(Olive plate.)

It’s that time of the year again.  Time for the semi-annual trek to the dentist for a cleaning and check-up.  This is not something normal people celebrate.  But M and I do.  Because it means we also make our semi-annual visit to DeVitis Italian Market where I almost drool over the olives, the pastas, the cheeses, the wines, the pesto, the rapini!  (Well, maybe I do drool but I am very discrete about it.  You’d never know if I hadn’t just told you.)  It is worth enduring the torture of the oral hygienist to spend some time in DeVitis loading up on scrumptious foods.

(Olive plate #2)

Once we got home and unpacked all of our goodies, of course I had to plate the olives and see what I could do with them.  The deadline for Scott’s Assignment 11:  Food Photography is midnight tonight.  Most of what I’ve been cooking lately didn’t translate well into photographs.  I had high hopes for the olives.

(Fruit, cheese, and olives.)

I played around with bowls of fruit, cheeses, and the olives.  The three shots above were the best of the lot.  I think the last one has too much going on, but that could be because I wanted the olives to have a starring role (which is why I prefer the second shot over the other two).

All three photographs have been processed in Photoshop.  To me, there is something romantic about olives so I wanted the photos to have a softness to them.

The assignment is over but I’m hoping to get a chance to play (photographically speaking) with the olives again over the next day or two.  Maybe do something a little more creative with them.  Take some toothpicks and make olive people and march them around the kitchen.  Or something.

Today’s Outdoor Adventures:  Warm up!

After the Blue Wall experience this past weekend (you can catch up on the adventure here and here, if you missed it), life here at Breezy Acres and around the pond seems almost dull in comparison.

(The Blue Wall.)

(Today’s view of the creek.)

See what I mean?  How about another comparison?

(The Blue Wall.)

(Today’s view of the pond.)

I know.  It’s not fair at all to compare the two.  First of all, the Blue Wall is one of those things that you don’t see every day.  And if you did see it every day, you might take it for granted or find the beauty starts to fade with daily visits.

Second of all, the weather makes it a doubly unfair comparison.  It was cold as the dickens on Saturday, but it was sunny and beautiful.  There was much more color to the day.  Not just at the Blue Wall.  The forest and ravine were dotted with hemlocks which leant their greenery to the scene.

So, one more look at the Blue Wall and then it’s back to Breezy Acres and the Bogs.

The temperature here is above freezing today, melting things slightly.  It is, as you can see from the above photos taken today, cloudy and gray.  The January Doldrums, when even the weather can’t get excited about the day.

My walk was fairly uneventful.  I took a tumble or two going down hills due to some slipperiness under the snowpack.  I was also overdressed.  I ended up taking off a few layers on my way back to the house.  I have to admit it was nice not to be freezing for a change.  (Don’t worry.  Those tumbles were not at all serious.  All those layers make me bounce right back up.)

And that, folks, is it from the Bogs for today.  See you tomorrow with more from the great outdoors.