Category Archives: Flowers

Desk Orchid

Some days it’s one step forward and two steps back – some days it’s one step forward and at the end of the day you’re so far back that you’re lucky if you’re still in the same ZIP code.

That’s why there are desk orchids.

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Ascutney Flower

It’s been a while since we’ve done flowers.

There’s snow there now (although not so much as you might think) but in June, 2004 there was green everywhere (and we were in the mountains – you do the math) when I found this flower. It must have been remarkable, it’s the only one I took a picture of on a long day of cruising with the top down in a rented Mustang convertible.

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Backwards Fall Foliage Starts In SoCal

Fall may not officially start until Tuesday, but it’s not too early to be seeing some of the traditional, colorful foliage that marks the season.

While in most of the real world that means green leaves turning red and gold, Southern California isn’t actually part of the real world (and there are days when we’re not even all that “real world adjacent”) so things happen a little differently here. There are some imported deciduous trees that do the normal green –> red and gold thing, but the native plants sometimes do it backwards. (Well, okay, the “native” plants are probably also imported, but they’re imported from some dry, desolate, desert location to Southern California, which despite all of the irrigation is a dry, desolate, and desert location.)

Contrary to the pattern of having leaves die and fall off, the holly bushes in our front yard start growing at this time of year, pushing out new leaves all over the place. What makes it colorful and somewhat lovely is that the new leaves are all a much paler shade of green, sometimes almost yellow or white, while the existing leaves are a dark, dark green. As the new leaves mature, they darken, but since they’re pushed out at different times by different branches, you end up with a wonderful spread of shades of green. Then, on close examination, you see some of the very young leaves, which are just opening up, showing a pinkish or purplish color.

Look, but don’t touch! Those points are sharp, the bane of my existence when it comes time to put Christmas lights on them.

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Duke Gardens Flowers

In April we were in North Carolina and visited Duke Gardens. I had the opportunity to wander for an hour or so and did what I do best at such times. I could have wandered for another two or three hours, just in the main gardens alone, where these pictures were taken.

Now I get to share.

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Spring’s Forward Scout

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A barren tree, a wintery blue sky and a few whispy clouds. Could be winter in Minnesota, Maine, or Mississippi.

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With a few days of rain and wind in the last couple of weeks, the last of the leaves are gone from most of the leafy trees.

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But the winters are mild and short in Southern California. There’s no snow on the ground, and it’s closer to 70°F than to 20°F.

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The branches won’t be bare for long.

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99.9% of the branches are tipped with buds, ready to burst, like popcorn kernels that are so close to going off.

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Someone’s got to be first, and this particular branch tip decided to jump the gun. Go big or go home!

A harbinger of better times to come? Or an unembarrassed and unabashed overachiever? Maybe we’re just seeing spring’s advance scout, checking to make sure the bees are ready to come out and play.

{{Note — It’s Flash Fiction Thursday, but I’m still writing my piece and there’s no way it’s done by midnight, so I’ll post it tomorrow.}}

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Random Blatherationings For July 13th

We haven’t done this in a while, and since the muse-driven spark plugs in my brain seem to be missing on all four cylinders (I only wish that there were eight or sixteen), let’s see if this little exercise can jump-start the neurons. Remember, if you think there should be rules, they’re here, but the first rule of Random Blatherationings is that we’re making this up as we go along. What? You mean it’s not blatantly obvious?

Tonight’s three random seed words are “assentatory”, “maleberry”, and “sourwood.”

ASSENTATORY: The short definition is “flattering or obsequious,” but it’s an obsolete term. Apparently over a hundred years obsolete, since the last reference to the word seems to be the 1913 Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. Looking for a reference where the term is used, I get nothing except a prompt asking if I’m really asking about “USS Sentry.”

Sure, let’s go with that! The USS Sentry is an Avenger-class mine sweeper (officially a “mine countermeasure ship”, or “MCM”), commissioned in 1989. She’s apparently based out of San Diego at the moment, with a complement of six officers and seventy-five enlisted, although there is a note on Wikipedia that she’s been designated a reserve ship and only at full crew-capacity when the reservists are aboard. Interesting.

I’m sure when people volunteer or enlist they all imagine that they’ll be driving a tank or on a nuclear submarine or aircraft carrier or flying an F-18. But some end up on the smaller ships that are just as important, just as critical with their jobs. It may not be glorious, it may not be flashy or spectacular, but all of the pieces count in the big picture. Plus, these days, it’s a job, and that’s not to be sneezed at.

MALEBERRY: Isn’t that where Opie, Andy, Gomer, and Aunt Bea lived? While the black and white, “aw shucks” attitude, and happy ending with goofy residents every twenty-nine minutes looks a bit dated, the show still holds up pretty well.

Plus, it gave us Ron Howard, who may have only been six years old when the show started in 1960, he must have really been soaking up knowledge about how things worked. As impressive as his acting credits might be (“Andy Griffith Show,” “The Music Man,” “Happy Days,” “American Graffiti”), his directing credits are just amazing. (We’ll just overlook the live-action version of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”) “Splash,” “Cocoon,” “Parenthood,” “Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Rush,” and those are just the ones that pop out of the list as being fantastic instead of merely good. Best of all, he’s in negotiations to do a film version of Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book”? Please, please, please, please, please make that happen!

Ignoring my blatherationings above, a maleberry is “a deciduous, much branched shrub, Lyonia ligustrina, with dense downy panicles of small, bell-shaped white flowers — also called swamp andromeda.” Oh, yeah, that stuff. (I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it, and if I did, I didn’t know what it was.) Apparently it’s only found in the United States along the Eastern seaboard, inland as far the Ohio River Valley, then in the south along the Gulf Coast as far north as Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

It’s also apparently toxic if your dog eats it. Why your dog might be eating it is beyond me, but dogs do strange things. They’re weird creatures some times.

See, the blatherationings were more interesting! (That’s sort of the point.)

SOURWOOD: This is another word for the sorrel tree, which is great information if you know what a sorrel tree is. For the rest of us… Google it. It’s a big tree with big, long, flat leaves and bunches of little white flowers and pods at the end that look like tiny white bells. It looks like it can grow pretty much anywhere in the US except for the central-northern tier of states, Idaho over to Minnesota. From the pictures I see, it seems that it turns bright, bright colors in the fall, red, yellow, and purple, which I really like, but I can’t say that I remember ever seeing one.

I really enjoy the fall colors when the trees turn, something that I miss here in Southern California. We do have some trees that turn and some of them do so with spectacular color, but it’s a tree here or a couple there, all surrounded by dry brush, palm trees, cactus, and so on. In the midwest, northwest, or up in New England especially, it’s every stinkin’ deciduous tree from horizon to horizon that each turn their own palate of colors, with the pines and evergreens thrown in for contrast.

Of course, that simply a sign that snow is around the corner, and while that’s also something I miss in SoCal, I’m not so sure how well I’ll react to it if and when I end up back in a climate where there are actually four seasons. It should be “interesting” when it happens.


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Filed under Dogs, Entertainment, Flowers, Random Blatherationings

Sitting By A Pond

Continuing to travel, see the sights, get together with friends and family. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing, but (big surprise!) I’m taking LOTS of pictures.

This afternoon I spent an hour sitting by a small pond that’s near our hotel in Saranac Lake. Yesterday, when we got here, there was a large flock of Canada geese on our side of the pond. At least six or seven adults plus nine or ten goslings, at one point all blocking the hotel driveway as they strolled across.

We’re in the Adirondacks, which (obviously, or not) is the birthplace of the Adirondack chair. They’re very comfortable, with a handful of them set beside the pond to enjoy the view and the calm.

IMG_7467_smallMany of the lakes and ponds seen yesterday are “well groomed,” for lack of a better term. They are in the middle of town and the shorelines are to a great extent mowed grass, brick or stone walls, or swimming beaches. Even the parts of the shoreline that are “wild” are still only feet from the sidewalks, running trails, and streets, making them more like “mild lite.”

While this pond is also in town, it has no improvements or “cleaning up” of the banks. It’s marshy, muddy, wild, and weedy. And there are wildflowers everywhere along the banks.

IMG_7471_smallThe irises here survived the rains of the last week. The ones in my mother’s garden in northern Vermont did not.

IMG_7477_smallAcross the pond you can see all kinds of debris and what might be a beaver lodge or some other sort of critter lair. There are also quite a few large trees that got knocked over when Hurricane Irene came through here last year and caused a tremendous amount of damage and flooding.

IMG_7482_smallAcross the pond, maybe 400 yards away, is the flock of Canada geese that I was looking for. It seems that there’s always one adult on watch, while the others eat and protect the goslings that are feeding.

IMG_7494_smallI’ve always been interested in patterns and textures in our surroundings, things that might be taken for granted in the everyday world but which stand out and can be interesting when isolated. For example, the tiny waves pushed by the wind as the sunlight glints off of them.

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IMG_7502_smallOr a close-up of the grasses and “weeds” in the mud along the bank. Of course, here they’re not “weeds” at all, but a source of food, cover, and building materials.

IMG_7503_smallOr the ferns and cattails growing in the shallow waters just off of the banks.


After dinner, when it was almost dark, I spotted the flock of Canada geese feeding on our side of the pond.

IMG_7515_smallThey apparently have no fear of people, since there were many hotel guests standing out there watching them.

IMG_7520_smallIf any of us tried to move and get too close, one of the adults would go on alert. This was a good time to stop and take a step back, since geese can be vicious and aggressive. But as long as we stayed eight to ten feet back, and then didn’t move forward or startle them when they had moved to within three or four feet of us, they were just fine ignoring us.

IMG_7521_smallI was surprised that even the flash from the camera meant nothing to them. Keep your distance, don’t make any sudden moves, leave them alone and let them eat, and they were just fine with you being there watching them.

One of the couples standing there watching them asked if I knew if there were any beaver or otters in the area. (I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if both species lived around here.) They had witnessed something like that swimming across the pond, trying to come ashore near where the geese were feeding, and being driven off by most of the angry, defensive, adult geese.

All of that to see, just sitting by a pond.

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