Sunday, February 27, 2011

Green Memories

Another cold winter morning in Central NY, white and calm, and beautiful in its own way.  Still, I am dreaming of spring.  Here are some of my favorite photos from gardens past, to encourage myself that it will be green here soon too:

An unknown iris, mauve with violet-purple shading.

A hot-colored tulip, with narcissus 'Geranium' (I think) behind it.

Tulip 'Flaming Parrot,' backlit by the morning sun.

Oak leaf hydrangea 'Pee Wee' foliage - I loved the spring leaves on this.

Lilac 'Blue Skies' - oh, what divine fragrance!

 My favorite ornamental onion (Nectaroscordum siculum).  
Each pendant flower has a drop of nectar inside, 
and it's petals are flushed with deep plum on pale greenish-cream.

A peony, probably 'Bo Peep.'

 Tulip 'Spring Green.'  This one is so elegant and fresh, I've always liked it.

And last, an unknown daffodil.  I had so many in my old garden, 
I just don't remember what this one was.  It sure was a beauty, though!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Holy Gigglefest, Batman!

Winter 2006 - a dolly with her dollies.  
Where did the time go?

I was brave, or maybe foolhardy, and probably both, but today our daughter had six friends over for a birthday party.  Such giggling and chattering and excitement!  I'm not big on doing birthday parties for our kids; I never have been, although we've had our share. I even managed to do the last couple outside the house (my ideal solution).  I had originally told Princess Yakyak that she could have just a few friends over for something simple.  Hah, that didn't work out like I'd planned at all.  Hosting it outside the house didn't work this time, since I didn't want to spend that much money.  (I don't think I succeeded in saving any money, though, between the craft, the goodie bags, the pizza and the prizes.)   I didn't manage to keep the numbers down, either.  There were a handful of really good friends that she wanted to include, and we couldn't really leave anyone out without hurt feelings.  So, we went with it and made the best of it.

 Almost six years ago.

She helped me plan the day, with a fun craft activity (painting little model horses), pizza (from her favorite pizza place), a decorate-your-own-giant-cupcake contest (with all sorts of candies for decorating, and prizes), finished off with presents and play time, and a goodie bag for each guest.  All the girls seemed to have fun, I didn't see or hear any drama, everyone left with smiles and thank yous, and I guess you can't ask for any better than that.

I'd like nothing better than to just collapse into bed and do NOTHING tomorrow, but the marathon continues.  Tomorrow is my husband's family's big multi-generational birthday bash, our way of handling five birthdays in seven weeks.  This year, it's at our place.  It's always good to see everyone, and we don't often get to host parties since we're off the beaten path (that is, we don't live near most of his family), so it'll be a real treat to see everyone up here this year.  The house is mostly still clean in spite of the girly invasion we just survived, so we'll keep on going with the party thing this weekend.  A little cleaning around the edges, a quick swipe with the vacuum, a fresh tablecloth, my husband is picking up a cheesecake dessert platter tonight, I'll make homemade chicken soup in the morning, and we're good to go again.

But, ah!  Monday!  I am really looking forward to Monday, when my husband goes to work, and the kids get on the magic yellow carpet (school bus), and quiet descends on the house in the wake of winter recess and too much birthday.   Ahhh, I can hardly wait. . . .

Friday, February 25, 2011

Snow again!

Yes, it's still winter in Central New York.  I knew it was, in spite of our brief flirtation with a spring thaw last week.  We always get a good storm in late February/early March, and we're not off the hook for snow until late April most years.  Today we're getting heavy, wet snow, somewhere between 5-8 inches.  The world is white, and beautiful - if you don't have to drive in it.  My husband took my SUV to work today, since I was concerned that his little Escort wouldn't make the half hour (in perfect weather) commute safely.  Later on I'll see if I can get the snow blower going, so he can get back in the driveway.

Tonight my husband and son will be camping with the Boy Scouts.  They're both excited, and I hope they have lots of fun.  It won't be a large group, so the boys will have lots of 1:1 with the adults.  I'm still surprised that our son likes camping - simple living it isn't really in his nature - but tonight at least they'll be in a cabin. He's planning on bringing his camera and his cell phone.  Yep, that's his idea of roughing it.

PrincessYakyak had a fun birthday yesterday - presents in the morning, and a friend visiting for the afternoon.  Tomorrow is her party - seven other girls coming over for crafts and pizza and dessert.  She is SO excited, and spent quite a while putting together treat bags for her friends this morning.  I hope it goes well, with a minimum of girl drama.  Sunday we'll have our second party of the weekend with my husband's family here - celebrating 5 birthdays at once.  Today I get to clean the house.  Tomorrow night I get to clean it again after the girls' party.  Sunday night, if it's messy, it can STAY that way until I feel like cleaning it on Monday. . . .

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Birthday Girl

My little girl is 9 today!  Hard to believe, but it's true.  She's been so excited all week, waiting for her birthday to finally arrive.  She's having some friends over Saturday, and more family is coming over Sunday, so her birthday this year will go on for a few days.  Happy birthday, Princess Yakyak!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Doctors and Vets

What I wish I were seeing outside today -  ostrich ferns sprouting.
It was down around 0F again last night - I'm ready for the 60s, thank you.

This has been my week for medical professionals.  I had my own revisit to check blood work results yesterday.  It was such an awesome appointment!  (How often do you get to say that about a doctor's visit?)  It was my first time seeing a new doctor after our regular physician moved to another practice much farther away.  The new doctor was so pleasant and friendly, I was immediately comfortable with him, and during our conversation we realized we're both Christians.  How amazing to not only "take" immediately to a new doctor, but to realize that he'll pray for you as well as treat your physical needs.  To leave the office with not only good advice and referrals for two routine tests, but a Scripture reference for encouragement as well, was really a nice surprise.  On top of that, I got good news:  my cholesterol is down 64 points, and my HDL/LDL numbers are excellent now.  How about that?

Today was vet day for our two senior cats, B.C. and Sophia.  We saw a new vet at the animal hospital, and I like him a LOT.  I'll ask for him again.  No crisis for either cat, just checkups and rabies shots, plus blood work for Sophia (who is down to 7.2 lbs. and probably has hyperthyroidism as well as kidney issues).   B.C.  has a case of "little old cat," but he's actually in very good shape apart from his kidney issues.  They did do a urine test and gave him an antibiotic (an injection, thankfully) for a possible UTI.  The doctor was very realistic about medical costs, checked the price of everything we discussed, and suggested some inexpensive ways we could help B.C. without resorting to prescription meds or budget-busting special food.  He also agreed that new blood work was not necessary for B.C. at this time.  It still cost a pretty bundle for both cats, but hopefully with a little prevention we can extend their healthy lives.

Two old friends sharing a sunbeam a couple weeks ago.

And, as if I hadn't spent enough this week on the groceries, food for two weekend parties coming up, the doctor, and the vet, I ordered a new mattress for Safety Guy.  His old mattress is practically bowl-shaped and sounds like it could be used for cartoon special effects for a haunted house.  (Creeeeeeeaaaaaak!   Sproioioing!  Ping!  Grinka-grinka-grinka bding!  Grrrooaaaannnnnn!)  Since he's right up against 6 feet and not showing any signs of stopping soon, we ordered an extra long twin mattress and box springs.  Oh well, it's only money.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Obsessions and Sound Effects

We've seen a LOT of stimming (self-stimulating behavior) and repetitive questions/comments (perseveration) lately from our son. (I'm not sure why.  Cabin fever? Winter break upsetting his routine? Growth spurt? A hex?  All of the above?)   Thankfully he doesn't hold his breath as he stims (some kids do that to the point of passing out), but he very frequently makes car crashing and/or traffic jam noises just for his own pleasure. (In fact, I had to ask him several years ago to NOT make those noises while I'm driving - hearing screeching tires and honking horns from the back seat was more than a little distracting.)  I heard him making his noises before he was out of bed this morning. When he was little, that's how we knew he was awake every morning - he'd stay in bed until we got him up, and he'd make sounds, endlessly creative sounds. We called him "our son Foley," as in a movie foley artist - he can recognize and imitate just about any sound.  It would be the perfect career for him.

Lately he's also "stuck" on vintage video game systems, and fire alarms. If he's not asking/telling me about obscure vintage system X or Q, he's asking/telling me about fire alarm systems.  His mind is just buzzing, and he has to talk about these things to everyone he meets.  The video games have been a fairly steady interest of his for several years now.  He discovered that there are many kindred spirits on YouTube who share their passion for video game systems.  YouTube is handy because he can see and hear the systems as often as we let him, even though he doesn't have many of his own.

He has a Gameboy Advance and a PS2.  We also have a Wii, a gift from my parents two Christmases ago, but to him it isn't cool the same way the old systems are.  Right now his favorite system is my old Atari.  Yes, I'm dating myself - it's an Atari 2600, I played it for hours when I was his age.  My parents had it and a bunch of games in storage at their house and unearthed it last year.  It was a little like meeting a friend from the past, and a bit like participating in an archaeological dig into my own life.  You'd think we'd given Safety Guy the treasures of King Tut!  Recently his Aunt Teresa gave him her old SuperNES system.  Oh, happiness!  Now our son wants a regular NES as well (they have one new-in-box down at one of the local game stores, and the games are easy to come by).  He bends my ear every day about the Sega Genesis, the Gizmondo, the Atari 5200, Coleco Vision, Odyssey, Vectrix (?), Gameboy Color, Gameboy Micro, the GameCube, and on and on and on.  He compares them, and critiques them, and gets into more detail than I ever wanted to know about ANY technological marvel.  My eyes glaze over when he starts talking about them.  I am glad there are other people out there who are more than willing to talk to him about his hobby, because I am very very very very tired of hearing about it.  I politely listen and comment for as long as I can, then I have to gently tell him, "Honey, I'm just not as into this as you are.  Can we take a break from this topic for a while?"  (Translation:  "If I have to listen to you talk about the minutiae of game systems for one more minute my head is going to implode!")

He also wants to install and test fire alarms in our basement.  Again, there are many guys (and they're all guys, and I'd bet you $$$$$ that most of them have Aspergers and/or OCD) who share their interest in fire alarms and collections of fire alarms on YouTube.  He tried to talk us into letting him buy and install a fire alarm system in our basement so he could test it whenever he wanted.  He didn't understand what I meant at first when I asked him if he really thought the rest of us would like to listen to him test those systems in the house.   He had to think about my question for a minute:  "But why not,  I think they're coo- oh, wait. Yeah. Oh. Oh, I get it."  Yep, son of mine, I'm not going to live in a fire alarm test facility that also serves as an arcade for vintage game systems and a crash test simulation practice center, even if it IS your special genius to love these things. . . .

Monday, February 21, 2011

If I were a. . . .

 Oriental poppy 'Brilliant'

If I were a month I’d be October -

If I were a day I’d be Christmas Eve -

If I were a time of day I’d be just before sunset -

If I were a font I’d be Freestyle™ Script Regular

If I were a sea animal I’d be a nudibranch -

If I were a direction I’d be west -

If I were a piece of furniture I’d be a rocking chair -

If I were a liquid I’d be jasmine green tea -

If I were a gemstone I’d be amber -

If I were a tree I’d be a river birch -

If I were a tool I’d be a garden trowel -

If I were a flower I’d be an oriental poppy -

If I were an element of weather I'd be rain -

If I were a musical instrument I’d be an acoustic guitar -

If I were a color I’d be red-orange -

If I were an emotion I’d be peace -

If I were a fruit I’d be a mango -

If I were a sound I’d be the sound of rain falling through leaves -

If I were an element I'd be silicon -

If I were a car I’d be a 1969 Chevelle Malibu 2D HT 307 -

If I were a food item I would be dark chocolate with candied ginger -

If I were a place I’d be an old-growth forest -

If I were a material I’d be cotton -

If I were a taste I’d be spicy -

If I were a scent I’d be the smell of the earth thawing and sprouting in early spring -

If I were a body part I’d be a hand -

If I were a song I’d be "When You Love A Woman" by Journey -

If I were a bird I’d be a great blue heron -

If I were a gift I’d be handmade -

If I were a city I’d be Toronto -

If I were a door I’d be one to a secret garden -

If I were a pair of shoes I’d be comfortable leather sandals -

Please copy and paste...fill in your own answers and leave me a message so I can come to your page and read about you! :)

(I got this post idea from my friend Blondee.  Thanks, Blondee!  It was fun to do this!)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weather Whiplash

The meteorological roller-coaster is in full swing in Central NY over the past 
few days.  Two days ago our weather and yard looked like this:

 Our back yard, in full "spring thaw" mode on Feb. 18th, 
when it was over 50F and had been that way  for several days.

I did some garden inventory, and was delighted to discover that my garlic is sprouting.  I also marked which daylilies were showing signs of green foliage (making them "semievergreen" for breeding purposes).  The snapdragons were also fresh green, and ready to spring into growth at a moment's notice.

I was a LOT less happy to see rabbit damage to several shrubs, and to my 
dogwood tree.  I'll have to wrap/bury them next winter, 
if they survive this damage.

Yesterday the temperature was all of 15F, 
with snow and howling wind from the night before and all day long
(reportedly some gusts up to 50mph during the night and early morning, 
and easily in the 20s and 30s otherwise) - 
the wind chill was somewhere south of 0, and our yard looked like this:

 I love Molly's facial expression here.  It clearly says, 
"You've got to be kidding!  What the heck is this crap?  
Where's my sunbeam?"

The roads were terrible, so of course we had to go out several times.  
Thank goodness for our SUV.

Today, our weather again looks like this, and is up around 25F:

I am quite ready for spring.  Syracuse is up to 143" of snow for the year, and we're expecting more tomorrow and later in the week.  The amount of snow generally doesn't bother me, but it started early in the season with heavy snow right after Thanksgiving, so this winter seems to be really dragging on forever. 

While I could find the back porch earlier in the week, I moved my winter sowing containers to a better spot.  I'll be doing more soon, after payday (when I can buy more soil, and my next seed order arrives).

In spite of my weather blahs, I have really been enjoying my quilting time every day.  Most evenings I can get a couple hours to myself after the kids are in bed.  Sometimes I can snag an hour or two during the day, too,
so I'm making good progress.

 It's really B.C.'s quilt - I just happen to be working on it.  He usually sleeps on it while I'm working on it.  Occasionally he'll march right up on the hoop and plop down on my chest, just so I can't possibly miss the fact that it's HIS quilt.  He thinks I'm letting him lounge on it because it's my duty as a faithful peon I love him and I'm a pushover nice owner.

But this is what I'm really waiting for:  SPRING!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Honey, I forgot to duck.

Turns out I didn't dodge the flu germs after all.  Let's just say, yuck.  After a couple very unpleasant days, I'm feeling almost normal again.  Time to get back to life as usual:  kid stuff, laundry, pet care, house stuff.  Hooray for normal routine!  Although I do need to run some errands, which will be a pleasure today since the weather is actually warm for NY in February.

We're having our midwinter thaw this week.  It's been in the 40s for a couple days, it's supposed to be almost 50 today, and the snow has melted away like magic under a steady southwest wind.  I can see grass in the yard for the first time since around New Year's, and the meltwater is running across our back yard in a thousand gurgling little streams.  I love listening to the sound of the thawing earth, and I even heard some birds chirping yesterday.  Spring is coming, it won't be long now!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Housecleaning, on the computer

A busy bee on Aster laevis 'Blue Bird,' from our old house in 2006 -  
a favorite that I planted again around my blue bird nest box pole last year.

I think I've taken a lot of photos over the past few years.  A LOT of photos.  Thousands.  Our poor PC is groaning under the weight of all the .jpeg files, and running about as fast as molasses in January in Greenland.  It's time to go through the files and get rid of all the ones I don't want to keep.  Like the pictures where I got the foreground blurry, and the background sharp as a razor.  The pictures of stuff I listed on eBay and sold.  Or the picture of my coat, or the ceiling, or the corner of what I was really trying to catch because I was butter-fingered or distracted.  And let's not forget the pictures taken by my kids of their feet and their thumbs; extreme closeups of guinea pig noses, blurry goldfish, and the cats running away.

Safety Guy when he was well over a foot shorter, 
and four and a half years younger.  Molly was a kitten then, obviously.  
She loved to "help" him play with his Thomas the Tank engine stuff.

It's been fun going through the photos.  I really, really wish I'd had a digital camera when the kids were really little.  I didn't get one until 2006, when Princess Yakyak was 4 1/2 and Safety Guy was almost 8.  I still can't believe how much they've grown since then.  Has it really been almost 5 years since I took those pictures?  Where did my little boy go?  When did my little girl get so tall?

Princess Yakyak running to her Daddy, 
at the Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, PA, 
about four years ago.

I also copied a bunch of flower/garden photos to disc for my sister Tracey to use.  She paints in watercolors, and asked for some photos to use as inspiration.  I put a bunch of the photos (okay, over a couple hundred of them) on my husband's Mac and ran it as a slide show to a classical guitar version of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."  I was dismayed to realize that seeing the pictures from my old garden still makes me sad.  (It's been almost two years now, but I still remember every plant.)  But at the same time I was pleasantly surprised that so many of the photos were pretty good, and the plants looked healthy.  And, seeing them enlarged on the Mac really made me appreciate the details of the closeups even more.

Watching the slide show through a couple times even helped me decide which of the plants I had before I really still want to grow in my new garden.  I sent a small order out today, for fern leaf bleeding hearts (Dicentra eximia) and dark orange Asiatic lilies ('Commander in Chief,' since my old 'Avignon' aren't available any more).  That's the bleeding hearts to the right.  The Asiatic lilies were the most intense, smoldering red-orange color, and looked like banked coals burning in the garden.  I really wish I'd brought them with me when we moved, but I just ran out of time.  I'm sure I'll have new favorites in this garden - already jasmine tobacco and nasturtiums, sunflowers and sweet Annie are racing up my list of favorite plants.  They can join the old friends that traveled with me from the old house:  peonies, daylilies, irises, and hyacinths. 

I can hardly wait for spring. . . .

 Asiatic lily 'Avignon'

Monday, February 14, 2011

It Must Be Love

My husband and I aren't usually very romantic about Valentine's Day.  That's probably a good thing, since our romantic lunch plans for today got torpedoed by the kids being home from school.  (We had planned to go out for lunch to our favorite sushi place, but I forgot there was a half-day at school.  Nuts!)  No big deal - we'll try again another day.  Tonight he's working later, and he'll be helping me with house cleaning, our usual Monday routine. 

I guess we've settled into "old married couple" land, knowing that the little everyday kindnesses mean more than the yearly Hallmark-mandated holiday.  After a really difficult time last year, we seem to be finding a new "normal" in our relationship, and it's a good one.  Helpfulness, kindness, respect and affection are worth more than any short-lived emotional passion.  Passion fades; love lasts forever.  (But a bit of passion now and then is still a very good thing!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dodging Germs As Fast As I Can

 It was busy at the feeder yesterday - Molly was enthralled.

It's flu season, and I'm dodging germs as fast as I can.  Clorox wipes, hand disinfectant, antibacterial soap - I'm armed and dangerous.  And, while it's probably futile to think I'll avoid every bug going around, if I can avoid even one I'll be happy.  I would really, really like to avoid the flu that took out our daughter a couple days ago.  So far, so good, but we'll see what this week brings.  My husband is under the weather now, although thankfully he doesn't seem to have any inclination to lose his lunch.  The jury is still out on our son.  I definitely hope he doesn't get the flu - vomiting is one of the all-time worst things for him to be sick with, a sensory nightmare.  Stay tuned for updates from the germ warfare front.

On a positive note, I'm still working right along on my quilt.  In fact, I think I'll grab some time this afternoon, right after I make a fresh pot of decaf.  I'm really enjoying the hand-quilting process.  I'm stitching a leaf in the middle of each square, freehand.  All kinds of leaves, mostly from trees, although a few other garden plants have snuck in as well (clover, and rose leaves).  I haven't decided how to handle the border yet - but I'm thinking I'll opt for a simple straight line defining the edge of the blue fabric.  By the time I finish those dozens and dozens and dozens of leaves, I won't want to do MORE leaves all the way around the edge. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mom's New Groove

If you have kids, no doubt you've heard of the book, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."  (If you haven't, it's a classic - everyone of all ages should read it at least once a month, because days like that happen to everyone with about that frequency.)  My daughter is having a day like Alexander's, both yesterday and today.  Yesterday after school she got a mouthpiece put in by the orthodontist to expand her palate (which means no gum, no caramel, no fun gooey foods for over a year, and now her mouth aches), and early this morning she woke up with the flu.  The barfing kind.  (Barfing + dental mouthpiece = grossness multiplied x10.)  Which means her sleepover tonight with her friend has had to be canceled.  She's definitely having one of those days, for two days running.  Right now she's asleep on the couch, with "The Emperor's New Groove" running in the background.  Well, actually the menu music on the DVD is playing ad nauseum, since she slept through half the movie and it's over, but I don't want to wake her up by changing the background noise when I turn off the movie.  So I've been listening to those tunes for quite a while now.

I know the critics panned "The Emperor's New Groove," but I really like it.  It's funny and quirky, and full of great catch phrases and awesome voices.  What's not to like about David Spade voicing Kuzco, the spoiled-brat-Inca-emperor-turned-fugitive-llama, and Eartha Kitt as the scheming sorceress/royal adviser who turned him into a llama in the first place, or John Goodman as Pacha the llama herder who helps Kuzco regain his throne (and learn to be a nicer human in the end)?  I think I could learn something from this movie this week.  Like, I'm not the center of the universe, so get over myself.  And, stop moping just because I've got the winter blues and cabin fever and my daughter is sick and the cats keep leaving hairballs where I'll step on them.  Or, get out and do something for someone else so I'm not focused on my own navel.  I need a bit of an attitude transplant, and maybe a talking llama, an honest herdsman, and a scary-beyond-all-reason sorceress with the attitude and voice of  the Catwoman can push me over the edge to living my life with enthusiasm and fun again.

[Kuzco the emperor/llama and Pacha the herder are tied to a tree branch floating in a river]
Pacha: [facing downriver]  Uh-oh.
Kuzco: [facing upriver]  Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall.
Pacha: Yep.
Kuzco: Sharp rocks at the bottom?
Pacha: Most likely.
Kuzco: Bring it on. 
 Nowhere near as impressive as the waterfall Pacha and Kuzco went over, 
but you get the idea.

P.S.  To top off the day (and it's not even lunch time yet), my husband just called, and he had a flat tire on the way to work this morning.  We had to laugh - sometimes life is just ridiculous and you have to roll with it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eye-Catching 1

Lately it seems like I've been more tuned-in visually than usual - more attuned to art around me, more caught by shapes and shadows, light and color.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe trying to rediscover my own artistic inspiration and get-up-and-go is part of it.  Maybe I'm just tired of living in a white world, and winter seems to be lasting ever so long this year.  Whatever the reason, I've been drawn to looking at art on the internet as well as looking for it in situations and things I see in my everyday routine.  I'd like to share a couple artists whose vision has caught my eye lately.

The first items I'd like to share are from an art installation by Motoi Yamamoto, at the Fondation Espace Ecurueil, a gallery in Toulouse, France.  The pictures and information are from here.  His medium?  It's salt.  A couple thousand pounds of table salt, laboriously hand-poured bit by bit from a small oil can with a fine spout into a wonderfully complex pattern, freehand.  Mr. Yamamoto's "Labyrinths," which he started creating after the death of his sister over a decade ago, are magnificent in their simultaneous complexity and simplicity.  Mr. Yamamoto's amazing, peaceful, meditative works really appeal to me, both in their almost OCD level of detail (I can relate, lol), and in their transience.  Go to this website to see another, larger installation of his at a church in Cologne, Germany.  It's really amazing.  I especially love the overhead view, where you can see that the pattern also resembles a relief map of a river delta within the outlining circle.

The second eye-catcher I'd like to share is artist Liu Bolin, who takes the art of camouflage to its extreme - and makes "Where's Waldo?" look totally easy.  Really, I never would have imagined that someone would do this, and do it so well at that.   Here's a slide show of his incredible (and fun) artistic vision.  The picture of him sitting in the theatre seats was the first that caught my eye - I thought it was a digitally altered image, not an image of him sitting totally camouflaged in plain sight through the use of face and body paint.  I think my favorite image is him standing in the forest, though.

I'd like to make "Eye Catching" a regular feature on my blog, since pieces of art are always grabbing my attention.  I hope you enjoy seeing different artists, and I'd love it if you'd share in the comments about artists that have caught your eye.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Traveling Sunbeam Club

 Molly Meow lounging as only she can lounge.

I can tell spring is on its way in this new house by watching the pattern of sunbeams in our living room.  In the depth of midwinter, hardly any sun hits the floor directly.  As the new year grows, though, the sunbeams from the front windows gradually return.  Today must have been the big moment of "The Return Of The Sunbeam," because when the sun hit the front window and the sunbeam began to progress across the floor, all three cats homed in on it.  Within 10 minutes all three had had a go at it.

I love how a cat will wander into a room and spy the sunbeam.  They casually walk up to it, just to check it out.  They stand in it, and sniff the air (why, I don't know - do sunbeams have a fragrance?).  Then they relax into it.  Sophia crouches in it and blinks at the light, her fluff turning to a halo around her.  B.C. marches into it and owns it.  He soaks up the sun at all seasons, his midnight-black fur heating up in seconds flat.  Molly doesn't want to look too eager to follow the others.  She approaches the sunbeam cautiously, sniffs to make sure it's okay, then stands in the sun for a moment.  They, as if she's melting into it, she reclines and stretches out.  Oh, happiness!

B.C., King of the Sunbeam.

As the sunbeam crept across the room, it passed over Sophia's favorite chair, the computer chair.  She curled up in it, and was totally blissed out.  Some days I wish I could be my cat.  (I have been known to stretch out on the floor with them in the sunbeam.  Maybe I'll get that opportunity again soon.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Light and Shadows

Last Friday I went for a drive, hoping to enjoy the clear, sunny day.  I don't mind the clouds of winter generally, but I really felt the need to be outside in the sun that day.  The quality of the light was wonderful, and I took my camera so I could catch some pictures.

 Shadows on the Erie Canal, Canastota, NY.

Lately I find myself fascinated with shadows on snow.  (Maybe that's because that's a lot of what there is to see around here lately!)  I find both their shape and their color endlessly interesting.  Shadows on snow aren't just gray - they're often a soft periwinkle blue tone, or a deeper washed out navy shade, or a thousand varieties of lavender and aqua and slate and sky. I had to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road, because my gaze was often drawn to the shadows of trees and buildings sweeping across the fields under the morning sun.

These sumac stems look like modern sculpture to me, 
silhouetted against the field and the sky.

Not far from where I live is a little old cemetery on a back road.  It's a peaceful place, and I took a number of photos there.  This shot in particular stuck with me.  It appears to be a family - mother, father, and probably a child.  The mother's headstone indicates she died in 1855.  The carving is beautiful, but I didn't get up close to look - walking on the pristine blanket of snow just seemed wrong, and I left their resting place undisturbed. 

I don't find cemeteries to be creepy at all, but beautiful and sad, meditative and hopeful, serious and whimsical, all at the same time.  It's not a bad thing to be reminded of the beauty and brevity of life.

Finally, as I drove by a farm I saw a Clydesdale horse resting in the sun just outside their barn.  They looked so content, just standing there, soaking up the rays.  Ah, what bliss!   I could just imagine how good the warm light felt to them after days of staying in the barn or standing in the falling snow.