— n.
archaic the sky, heavens, or upper air

~ World English Dictionary

I woke up at six o’clock this morning, approximately two hours before dawn here in the Bogs this time of year, walked to the living room and looked out the window at the pond.  The clouds that had been hanging over us for the past few days had finally moved on, leaving a sky glittering and sparkling with hundreds, thousands of stars scattered across the darkness being reflected back at the sky by the pond.  Stars above and below shimmering and twinkling like champagne bubbles.

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Look Up: Geese at sunset

The colors may seem unnatural but it’s the way the camera picked them up when I took these photos on Saturday at sunset.  I used Photoshop to blur out the noise (the geese were already blurry from my unsteady hands).  I did not change the colors.

Here is a fuller view of the sky with the added bonus of the reflection in the pond:

Beautiful, isn’t it?  And a lovely way to end the Look Up theme.

In other news…

M and I spent yesterday morning mixing and pouring concrete.  Fun stuff.  Heh.  Messy too.  I had plenty of it in my hair (and pretty much all over the front of me) by the time we finished.

(The mixer.)

I’m thankful that we didn’t have to do the actual mixing.  M decided to invest in a mixer since we have future concreting projects planned.  It seemed worth the investment when we considered the cost of renting one.

(Mostly empty bags.)

80 lbs. of concrete is hard to lift.  M and I worked together getting that stuff up and into the mixer.  It’s too bad they don’t make some sort of lifter to go with the mixer.

(The trench with the freshly poured concrete foundation.)

The concrete has to cure for 72 hours.  After that the real fun begins.  M will start building the wall.  I think he’s looking forward to it.

Garden notes: Still harvesting asparagus at a pretty good clip.  Shared some with friends today.

M planted tomatoes and corn yesterday.  The peppers I started from seeds are still too small to plant.  They must be very slow growers.  Had to reseed the sunflowers as the rabbits ate the tender young plants during the first round.

Peonies and daisies are blooming.

Finally got some much needed rain today.  More expected tonight, possibly tomorrow.  Hopefully we’ll get enough to raise the pond level a bit.

Look Up: The Garfield Monument

One of the famous (and dead) residents at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland is the 20th President of the United States, James A. Garfield.  Garfield and his wife, Lucretia, are entombed in bronze caskets in the crypt located below the Memorial Hall.

(Statue of Garfield looking up in Memorial Hall.)

James A. Garfield was born in 1831 in a log cabin in what is now Moreland Hills, Ohio.  Garfield, elected in 1880, served 200 days as President of the United States, dying in office from the infection which started with wounds from an assassin’s bullets.  It is generally thought by today’s historians and medical experts that Garfield would have survived if his doctors had been more capable.  Several of his physicians inserted their dirty fingers into his wounds which is likely the cause of the infection that led to blood poisoning which ultimately helped lead to his death.

(Looking up in Memorial Hall.)

The Garfield Monument is a prominent and ornate feature in Lake View Cemetery.  The Memorial Hall contains the marble statue of Garfield, stained glass, and bas relief decorations.  In addition to Garfield and his wife, you will also find historical relics from Garfield’s life.

The monument has an observation deck where you can view the city of Cleveland and catch a glimpse of Lake Erie.

(Hazy day view from the observation deck.)

(Stairs to/from the observation deck.)

(Another view of the monument.)

(Looking up at the monument from the bottom of the hill.)

Look Up: May Moon

This is from last night’s moonrise.  I played around with it in Photoshop so much that I no longer remember what I did.  I’ve taken so many moon shots over the years that I thought I’d try something a little different.  I was trying for a watery effect along the outside edges of the moon.

I haven’t decided whether I like it or not, but at least it fits the Look Up theme.

(Yesterday’s sunset.)

While I’m playing around, perhaps a moon to match the sunset would be nice…

Look Up: In the willows

M and I planted the willow trees on the southern side of the pond about 5 years ago.  When we planted them, they were nothing more than skinny little twigs (about 1-2 feet in length) with a few straggly roots on the end.

They’re magnificent now.

It’s difficult to capture the sense of height in a photo so you’ll have to take my word for it:  they are very tall.

(View of the pond from under the willows.)

In between the willows we planted hemlock trees.  The willows are there to shelter the hemlocks from the wind and cold until they are well established.  M has planted a second line of willows behind this row to take over when we cut down the row sheltering the hemlocks.

For as long as I can remember, the willow has been my favorite tree.  One of the my earliest childhood memories is playing under the willow tree when I was very young.  My parents were renting a house with a willow tree in the side yard.  I remember it as being very big and very beautiful.  It was a weeping willow whose branches reached down to the ground.  I would go under the branches and let the tree envelop me in green.

The willow tree can grow up to 8 feet per year.  Pretty amazing.  They like moist soil which makes them perfect for here in the Bogs, especially in the area near the pond where we planted them.  The willow’s sap contains salicylic acid which is the precursor for aspirin.  The wood from willows is used for a variety of things including wicker and cricket bats.  They are also very useful for bio-filtration, slope stabilization, soil reclamation or building, as well as the way we are using them — as windbreaks.

We’ve been thinning out the willows little by little as the hemlocks grow so it’s not quite as traumatic or dramatic as it would be if we were to cut them all down at once.  Still, I dislike cutting down trees and will be sad to see that row of willows go while at the same time happy to see the hemlocks thrive while the second row of willows (which will remain there) grow and settle in. 

Look Up: Bird in a tree

As I approach the home stretch of the NaBloPoMo month of May Look Up theme (that’s a mouthful!), I’m finding it more difficult to come up with something that doesn’t involve the sky and clouds.  I’ll be glad to get to the end of this but have to admit that having a theme for a month has given me some much-needed focus.

I may try this again (having a theme) but I’m not sure I’ll do it for an entire month.  A week or two at a time will suffice unless the NaBloPoMo theme appeals to me as much as Look Up did.  It was the challenge of it that drew me in, and it was the challenge that made me look at things a little differently.

On the other hand, I do have a ton of flower photos from all our visits to different gardens lately.  Perhaps June will be a month of flowers here at Life in the Bogs.

I took the “Bird in a tree” photo during our visit to Lake View Cemetery last month.  I took a few photos of the various objects and decorations people placed on gravesites.  This is the only one that fit the Look Up theme.  It’s also the most interesting of the lot as it made me wonder who put it there and why.

Look Up: Lucy the Elephant

When you first meet Lucy the Elephant, you can’t help but look up.  I first met her when M and I took a two-week vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey in September of 2008.  I had been looking forward to that meeting as I’d heard a lot about Lucy from friends.

Unfortunately I have some not-so-great associations with that trip as that was when my mother was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer.  We were still in denial hopeful mode at that point with no real understanding of what was to come.  I usually try to write a little about the area or the attraction I’m posting about but Lucy will be like the sunflowers that captivated me a year later when my mother was dying, forever associated with Mom, her illness, and her death.  I’m just beginning to be able to look at, remember, think about, and (maybe) write about that time and those things in a way that I hope will transform the way I see them and life in general.

I don’t want to take all the fun out of Lucy (and she is a fun gal!).   I did write about Lucy and her history as a guest post at Stevo’s place, Asian Ramblings.  You can find it here if you’re interested.  Or you can do a web search which I’m sure will turn up plenty of information about the big, tall, and glorious Lucy.

I have to admit that looking at Lucy’s butt up there does remind me that Lucy is about kitsch and fun along with the old joke:

Why don’t elephants smoke?
Because their butts don’t fit in the ashtray.

So maybe this Look Up themed post will help me appreciate Lucy for Lucy and blend in the bad memories the way we do with life in general.  Blending them in is important, I think.  Otherwise it would be too easy to get out of balance, leaning in one direction or another, good or bad, without appreciation for both the ups and downs.  I know it’s difficult to appreciate the downs but I also know we learn a lot from them and sometimes those downs lead to some mighty good ups.

Well, enough philosophizing from me.  I’m sure most of my visitors don’t come here for that (since I generally try to avoid it here at ye olde blog).  How about another look at Lucy?

She’s pretty cool, isn’t she?