158: The annual flood

(A crocheted coral reef.)

The photos I’m using in this post were taken at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History when M and I went to Washington, D.C. last December.  The exhibition is called The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef.  This is another of those instances where photographs are not nearly as good as the real deal.  It is pretty amazing what the local crocheters and crochet groups managed to create.  I saved the photos for a watery post.  This seems to be it.

Apropos of nothing in particular:  My mother taught me to crochet.  It has been a long time since I sat down with a crochet hook and some yarn and created something.  Hopefully it’s like riding a bicycle.  All I have to do is pick up a hook and I’ll remember how to do it.

It stormed here in the Bogs last night.  And I mean STORMED.  There were many, many bright flashes of lightning and loud booms of thunder that rattled the house.  The rain POURED.  Torrents of rain.  Early this morning one of the local weather people said we had gotten 3 inches of rain overnight.  The rain, of course, melted the snow.  The result?  Water, water, everywhere.

M went down to the basement to discover that yes, indeed, the water made its way into the basement.  It’s the annual February flood.  Sometimes it waits until March if the rains start late.  One year we had no flooding at all in the spring, but a hurricane blew through and left behind so much water that the ground was over-saturated and there was no place for the water to go except the basement.

Yesterday, without thinking about the rain and the snow melt, I sorted the laundry and left it in piles on the laundry room floor.  We found it all thoroughly soaked this morning so today has been a laundry intensive day for me.  It all has to be washed and dried before it starts to become moldy and musty.  You’d be surprised how fast mold can form.

I had planned to start my Spring Cleaning Fest in a couple of weeks.  Once again Mother Nature has decided I should start earlier than planned.

M and I had to carry out the throw rugs and area carpets that soften up the basement floor.  It’s still gray and misty outside right now, but the sun is supposed to come out eventually and that should dry out the rugs and carpets.

This morning I was thankful for a lot of things, but two stand out.  The first is the shop vac (or wet/dry vac).  It is so much easier to suck up all that water with a vacuum than with a mop.  There is one little area in the basement bathroom where the water continues to slowly stream in, and I’ve had to keep at that all day, going in every half hour or so to vacuum up the new water.  Once that stops, I’ll do a good mopping with some bleach.

The other thing I was particularly thankful for was the return of my photos on the external hard drive.  It just needed a reboot.  But I like to think that talking nicely to it while turning it on helped.

(Hmph.)

Today’s outdoor adventures

With all the early spring cleaning of the basement upon me, I did not have a lot of time to spend outdoors today.  I went out periodically to hang things on the line, to feed the birds, and to get in my full 30 minute minimum.  There is a great deal of water out there.  And mud.  Lots and lots of mud.

The birds are enjoying all the mud and water, though.  There were hundreds of them covering the front lawn when I went out this afternoon.  There was even a small flock of robins.  I haven’t yet seen the red-winged blackbird, our harbinger of spring.

One nice thing is that walking around the pond is much easier without the snow.  I did not go down into the woods as the creek has taken over and it’s mostly flooded.  See the two crossed trees in the center of the above photo?  The creek bank is usually somewhere behind that.  I’d like to take a ride around and have a look at some of the other creeks around here, but I don’t think I’ll have the time for it.

I did find this lovely surprise:

Crocuses!!  The little squiggly green things from a couple of weeks ago are now flowers and leaves.

The daffodils are pushing their way up out of the ground, too.

(The ice on the pond is thawing.)

Tomorrow morning should be interesting.  It’s going down to 20 degrees tonight.  I expect there will be plenty of ice out there in the morning.


157: Sunday signage, a snowman and some tapping

(Sign for s sign store in Mantua, Ohio.)

First things first:  Thank you all for your well wishes.  It must have worked.  After the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks, I woke up this morning pain-free and feeling great.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you.  And you too.  🙂

M and I did go skiing today.  We have to drive through the town of Mantua to get to the place where we most like to ski (Chapin Forest Reservation).  Not everyone appreciates driving through Mantua, mostly because you have to slow down to 25 mph to go through town and the local cops are usually ready, willing, and able to give you a ticket for speeding.  (Frankly, it’s a speed trap, especially in the summer months.)  One of the reasons I enjoy going through Mantua is because it was (well, still is) the home of one of my favorite signs (pictured above).  I love the play on words.  The place is for sale now.  I don’t know if that means they moved or if they went out of business.

(The promised snowman.)

This blown-up doll of a snowman was not the only snowman we saw today.  The snow has finally acquired a texture good enough for making snowballs, snowmen/women, snow penguins, and snow forts.  It’s been a strange season in that regard, with snow so fluffy and dry that making a snowball (much less a snowperson) was almost impossible.  Kids of all ages must have been out having a good time yesterday and today, building snowpeople in their front yards.  We passed quite a few of them on our way to the ski trails.

We had a great time skiing.  I almost didn’t want to stop.  We went further than we have before, which is par for our skiing course.  Each time out we go a little further, a little longer.  This will probably be out last chance to ski this season.  Rain will be arriving tonight and it will be warm tomorrow.  It will cool down a bit after that, but it won’t be a major winter-type cool down.  Upper 30’s, low 40’s.

(Do you know what this is?)

I was thinking of leaving that caption hanging out there without an answer but that hardly seems fair.  One of the other things you would see right now if you were to drive through Mantua are collecting buckets hanging from the maple trees.  Any idea what they might be collecting?

I wrote this post a couple of year ago, describing the annual tradition that involves maple trees, taps, and collecting.  I didn’t have many visitors to this blog at that time.  Perhaps it’ll get a few more readers now.  Just in case you don’t feel like visiting an old post, I will tell you that the bucket represents a sign of spring in these parts.  The maple trees are being tapped for their sap which will be turned into some of the tastiest maple syrup you’ve ever had.  I know most folks think of Vermont or Canada or other places up that way when it comes to maple syrup.  But Ohio has some really tasty maple syrup, too.  If you want to read more about it, go see that old post I linked to a few sentences ago.

We capped off our day with margaritas on the porch.  The sun was shining, it was warm and lovely out there, and it seemed a good day to do a little celebrating.  M is firing up the grill for our black bean burgers as I type, reminding me that I should get upstairs and get to work on the rest of our dinner.

The only slightly sour note to the day is that I seem to have lost a year’s worth of photos from my external hard drive.  C’est la vie.  We’ll either figure it out and find them or we won’t.  I’ve been having a series of problems with the computer lately, things working off and on, and M did some maintenance on it today.  It may be time to look into getting a new one.  In the meantime, I will continue to sing love songs to my current computer as it seems to me electronic equipment (and cars) work better for me when I tell it how wonderful it is and give thanks every time it works.

It is a custom that began with my first car, a 1960 VW beetle.  The car was only 15 years old when I started driving it, and it lasted a few years after that.  M and I gave it up when the front end fell off on our way to a picnic.  The guy at the shop said you can only weld so much before there is nothing left to weld on to.  We replaced the VW with a 1963  Ford Ranchero.  But that’s a whole other story…


156: The male cardinal

The male cardinal came around at lunchtime yesterday and posed for me.  If I’d known he was coming, I’d have set up the tripod.  But I don’t think I did too badly given the distance (and the window) between us.

I’m still not feeling all that well.  A little like this:

I’m hoping by tomorrow I’ll be more like this:

I’m heading outside in a little while to meet my daily commitment.   I doubt I’ll wander far or for longer than necessary.  The sun was out earlier but it’s cloudy now.  Light snow is in the forecast for tonight, then a warm-up starting tomorrow afternoon that will bring rain with it.  I’m guessing by Monday evening most of our relatively new snow will be gone.

M and I are planning to get up early and go skiing tomorrow.  I’ll take the camera along if we do.  Perhaps I’ll have something more exciting to blog about after our excursion.


155: A flower

(A spot of color on a snowy day.)

Another winter storm came through last night and this morning.  Rain, freezing rain, sleet, then snow, all with a generous helping of wind.

I went outside briefly this morning and will fit in more time here and there as the day goes on.  I’m not feeling particularly well and would much rather stay indoors.

I’ve gotten behind in noting comments and visiting other blogs.  I don’t think the situation will improve today as I can’t stay at the computer for very long.  I’ll catch up with you all when I’m feeling better.

The flower is from a bouquet I bought to make things a little brighter and cheerier.  I think it’s working.  🙂


154: Stylish Blogger Award

I was recently awarded the Stylish Blogger Award by Bearyweather of the blog Bear in Mind.  Thank you so much, Bearyweather.  I am flattered that you picked me, and will try to meet the requirements without breaking too many rules.  The first requirement is that I link back to the person who gave me this award so we’re off to a good start.

The second requirement is that I share seven things about myself.  Honestly, I think I’ve shared so much about myself already that there’s not much left, but let’s see what I can come up with…

1. I experienced my first ice storm (or at least the first ice storm I can remember) while living in South Carolina.  It happened sometime during the first few years M and I were married.  Although it was destructive to trees and power lines, it was still one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.  A thick layer of ice covered everything and when the sun came out, Everything Was Illuminated.  (The book title I’m borrowing from, by the way, is Everything Is Illuminated: A Novel.)  There have been other ice storms since but none as beautiful as that first one, perhaps because it was the first.

2. I collect rocks.  Most of the rocks in my collection are not as polished as in the photo because they are usually rocks I pick up while out walking or hiking.  I particularly like round and egg-shaped rocks.  They tend to show up quite a bit more than I would have expected, or else I have an eye for them and so it just seems that way.  I’ve been collecting rocks of some sort since I was a child.  Is it any wonder that one of my sons got his college degree in geology?  And then moved to Colorado?  (I told you three things here, but I’ll be nice and carry on with a full seven categories/things.)

3. I used to collect feathers too.  Now I collect them by taking photos rather than picking them up and bringing them home.

Perhaps I should start doing that with rocks, too.  Before my home becomes a big rock pile.

4. I was so taken with the book Where the Wild Things Are (even after reading it a few hundred times to my youngest son) that when I saw a Wild Thing in small shop in U City, Missouri (just outside of St. Louis), I had to buy it.  Eighteen years later, it still hangs out with us in the room we turned into a library/guest room.

The chair he is sitting in is The Comfy Chair.  It is The Best Comfy Chair Ever.  It’s where I love to sit when I’m settling in for a long session of reading.  The best thing about the chair is that I can get comfortable in it no matter how I sit.  My feet touch the floor when I sit comfortably in this chair.  Not all chairs are designed for us shorter people.  (I’m not unusually short or anything.  Just enough that sometimes it’s hard to be comfortable in chairs or on stools because they seem to be designed for folks taller than me.)

5. I hoard unread books.  Not on purpose, mind you.  People (usually family) know I like to read.  They give me books.  In the meantime, I buy books I want to read.  And before you know it, I have a HUGE collection of unread books.

I have read the books in the back on the bottom shelf.  Looking at this photo it occurs to me that I really should go through this stack of books because I’m pretty sure there are books in there that won’t appeal to me.  I can eliminate those pretty quickly with my 50-Page Rule.  (If I’m not into the book by page 50, I give up and donate it.  There have been exceptions to that rule, books I felt I should press on with because there was something there that did interest me.)

6. I am a terrible liar.  I can prove it:  Lie to me.

7. I have always wanted to learn to draw, but have not really taken the time to do so.  There was a brief period in 2007 when I gave it a try.  I was having serious back problems, living in a great deal of pain and barely able to walk.  It gave me something to do other than feel sorry for myself.  After a few months of a physical therapy plan I designed for myself, I was once again able to get out and about with the camera so the drawing attempts were put away for another day.  The things I did learn to draw during that time were cartoon animals which I turned into cards and/or postcards for my oldest granddaughter (only granddaughter at the time).

I’ve been thinking of giving it a try again.

Okay, then.  That’s two requirements met and I haven’t broken any rules yet.  I will do so now. The third requirement is that I should pass on this award to six bloggers I feel are Stylish Bloggers.  Honestly, I think you are all Stylish Bloggers.  Pick up your award if you want one and run with it.  Follow the rules, don’t follow the rules, but make sure you have fun with it.  I learned early in my blogging career that sometimes awards are not appreciated so I’ll leave it to you as to whether you accept or not.

I am, however, going to tell you about (and link to) a few blogs, old and new to me, I have been wanting to share with you all.  I’ve been meaning to do this for a while and this gives me the perfect excuse to do so.

  • Grace-full Thoughts.  I have been visiting Sister Catherine Grace’s blog for a few years now.  She is currently posting a chapter a day of a wonderful video series, Our Cosmic Origin Story.
  • Pat Bean’s Blog.  Pat and Maggie (Pat’s 13-year-old Cocker spaniel) are in their seventh year of traveling in a small RV.  I really enjoy her snippets on life, travel, and nature.
  • reinventing the event horizon.  Kathy is a writer and artist currently living Haiti with her partner who works for an international NGO that is helping with earthquake recovery.
  • Poems ‘n Stuff.  Meet the LadyP (or Pen) and enjoy some of her poems and stories.  She has quite the imagination and sense of humor, as well as a wonderful way with words.
  • Magnificent Minimalist.  Seriously.  MM’s stuff is funny.

I haven’t included any of the wonderful photography websites this time around.  I’m saving that for another post.

Today’s Walk

It dreary here today.  We had some rain early this morning.  There is snow in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning.  I didn’t do anything exciting.  Fed the birds, walked around in the slush a bit.  Good enough.

They can’t all be mesmerizing days.  Things would be rather flat if they were, with nothing to contrast or compare them to.


153: Foggy and frosty

(Morning sun burning through the fog.)

Foggy and frosty.  Sounds like it should be the name of a cartoon duo.  I need a lesson in blog post titles, as well as how to title your photos.

We had fog here in the Bogs during the early morning hours.  Fog plus cold temps (the low was about 4°F) often equals frost of some kind so I went out early today to see what had developed.  Hoar frost!  Nice, big, feathery, fluffy hoar frost was covering just about everything. The closer to the pond and to the ground one got, the bigger and fluffier the hoar frost.

Unfortunately for me, the best of the hoar frost involved a lot of white on white.  Beautiful to look at.  Difficult to photograph.

Last year I was lucky enough to catch the hoar frost on a sunny day so I could shoot upwards, towards the sky, which gave the photos much-needed contrast.

All I could do was work with what I was given.  I tried a variety of settings on the camera, played with the white balance, and ultimately ended up doing a lot of tweaking in Photoshop to bring out the contrast.

The pond was a big help.  Adjusting the levels and contrast resulted in the ice on the pond looking blue.

I wish you all could have been there to see it.  Mother Nature seems to have decided to go all-out this winter, putting on the best of her winter displays.  (Reminder:  Click on the photos to see the slightly larger view.  You can see more details that way.)

I was out for a little over two hours.  It had warmed up to about 10°F by the time I went out, and it felt quite cold at first.  Eventually I didn’t notice the cold at all.

This morning’s yoga and exercise is what I think of as The Photographer’s Workout.  It involved a lot of walking, including a nice, big hill, as well as bending, stretching, squatting, and lying on the ground then pushing back up to a standing position.

It’s a fun way to work out.  And that last hill got my heart rate up and helped me work up a sweat.  I wonder if I could market this workout?

That’s about it from the Bogs today.  I’ll leave you with a few more photos of hoar frost, and a few of the sun.  As of early this afternoon, it still had not managed to burn through the fog.  The hoar frost, by the way, was gone by 11:00am.  You have to get out early if you want to catch hoar frost.

Oh!  I almost forgot.  Yesterday’s sunset lit up the ice hanging from the clothes line.  It was some of the prettiest stuff I’ve ever seen hanging on the line.  Not the best of shots, but it will give you some idea of what it looked like.

See you tomorrow!


152: Mesmerized

Usually I attempt to title my photos.  I won’t be doing that today.  I just don’t want to put a name to anything I saw today.

Usually I place the photos in such a way as to tell a story or to at least correspond with my babbling what I’m writing.  I won’t be doing that, either.  I will put them up as I took them on my walk today.

It was so beautiful when we woke up this morning, a beauty way beyond any words I can think of to try to describe it.  The sky was clear and blue.  The sun hitting the ice and snow was a magical sight that the camera just couldn’t capture at all.  You had to be there.

I hadn’t planned to stay outside beyond the minimum thirty minutes.  I started the day with a pretty long to-do list so it seemed important to go out, take a few photos, and get on with the rest of the day.  Of course that was wrong.  Being outside was the important part of the day, not the to-do list.

It wasn’t until the freshly-charged batteries in my camera died that I realized I’d been out there well beyond my planned time.  As it turned out, I was out and about for two hours, completely mesmerized by Mother Nature’s display.  I believe this is what people must have been trying to achieve when they first started decorating trees for the Winter Solstice or for Christmas.

I also believe this may well be the first winter in which I have truly appreciated the season.  I have always enjoyed frost, snow and ice, and how beautiful they can be under certain circumstances, but I don’t think I appreciated the season as a whole in the way I do now.  Each day of stepping outside to meet my outdoor commitment has brought something new, even those days when I had a case of the blahs and thought it was dull to be photographing the same things over and over.

Winter is a season in which things can change drastically overnight.  One day everything is dull and brown, wet and slushy, and the next day you wake up to find the world sparkling with ice and snow.

Best of all, things you couldn’t quite capture before are suddenly handed to you.  But you have to be in the moment, paying attention to the now, or you might miss the gifts you’re being given.

I think I fell in love with winter today.

I’ll have to go back and look but I’m pretty sure I had a similar moment during the autumn months, my first season of this commitment.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to come away from this year-long commitment with a love, or at least an appreciation, for all of the seasons?

I think that just might happen.