Friday, 23 September 2016

Double Dog Dare Ya

I've been travelling to the nearest town the last few days to help family pack for a move, and the first night when I drove home the sun was just setting.

I pulled out my camera, opened my window and aimed behind me - blindly - and clicked.

I was quite happy with the result of that wild shot:

Now, taking a photo while driving probably wasn't the most brilliant thing I ever did, but I made sure there was no traffic around me, and I used the Smart Auto feature on my camera so I didn't have to think about focusing.

But it made me think about taking chances and risky behavior and dangerous activity, and I thought - not for the first time - that there are things I would do in a heartbeat IF I knew I would not die or be seriously hurt. Things like bungee jumping, parachuting, riding full out on a motorbike, driving a race car, riding shotgun in an airplane with a stunt pilot (since I can't fly myself), snowboarding, windsurfing - things that have a very good chance of killing or maiming me, given my age, general condition, and lack of coordination, and I'm not willing to pay that price.

So tell me, if you are so inclined: what is the most dangerous thing you've ever done? What would you do if you knew you'd live and be fine afterward?

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Butterfly Bush

Last summer we were forced to admit that our  lilac tree was dead. It was a hybrid - a lilac bush grafted onto a dwarf tree (fruit tree, maybe?), a part of the original landscaping when we built our house in 1988. It was planted in a small area surrounded by the house, the driveway, the brick walk and the concrete step. We are not good gardeners, I must confess, and the only food it got was the occasional layer of mulch.  In 2003 it was half uprooted during Hurricane Juan, and it never fully recovered after that. Two years ago it bloomed on only one side, and last summer there were no leaves at all.

And yet, for those 26 years, it gave us incredibly fragrant blossoms every spring. Every fall, its leaves would drop as Hallowe'en approached, and I'd prune it back so the branches wouldn't poke at little trick-or-treaters coming to the front door, and decorate it with ghosts and witches. When our kids were growing up, we decorated for Christmas, too, and the lilac tree was hung with mini-lights and tiny red ribbons.

So it was sad to see it die (shocking conclusion: we should have fertilized it!) but by that point there was no going back to do things over. I went to the nursery to select a new victim, and came home with a butterfly bush.

Here it is last spring:

And now it looks like this:

It has been blooming steadily for weeks. Here's a bloom up close and personal:

They have a very sweet, fermented smell which I suppose is a part of how they attract butterflies. I have yet to see any butterflies on it, but the hummingbirds have visited a few times.

And it's deer-resistant!

Not ant-resistant, though - see the holes in that leaf in the last picture?

Ah, well, can't have it all :)

Friday, 16 September 2016

Grampy Already Covered That Ground, or At Least It Seemed Like He Did

A couple of months ago, I signed up to receive a weekly email from the BBC website. It's called "If You Only Read Six Things This Week ..." and it provides links to intriguing articles on events and ideas that I'd probably not encounter otherwise.

Last week's links included a fascinating discussion on the idea that we could be living in a simulated world where nothing is real, even though it feels real to us, along with the question of whether it matters if it's real or not. The piece is titled "We might live in a computer program, but it may not matter," and was a good read. If you're interested in that sort of thing, you may enjoy it as well.

My grandfather thought about a similar concept around fifty years ago. He always talked to my brother and me as if we were adults, and during one visit when I was about ten years old he speculated about the possibility that the earth was merely a project on the mantelpiece of a vast being who, from time to time, peeked in on us to see how the experiment was going.

I've thought about that idea many times since. I don't know if it was an original thought or whether he simply read about it and wanted to share it. But it tickles my fancy to think that he was wondering about those things so many years ago, and that I've run into the concept again.

"What if none of this is real?"

As long as we feel it's real, does it matter? Pain still hurts, and joy still uplifts.

I watched the cloud formations in the video below shortly after I'd read the BBC article. This seems like a good time to share them. Note the banks of white clouds that hardly move, and the grey puffy clouds that travel along at a good clip. It was a windy day along the river, raw and refreshing, and it made me feel connected to the world and beyond. Illusion or not, I was happy.

You may wish to leave the sound off, as the only audio is wind noise. On the other hand, it does add to the ambience, making the video, on the whole, only slightly less boring than watching paint dry :)


And a photo of the same thing, for those who don't "do" videos; you can see the two layers of clouds, white and grey, the leaves bent by the wind, and the ripples on the water:


This was too far for me to walk, so I drove to the trail and hobbled to the lookout shelter. Illusion or not, my hip still hurt! (Update: since then, my physio person and I have made inroads on my issues - turns out my back is involved, and as that resolves, my pain is greatly decreased. Illusion of joy! and it's pretty nice, I have to say.)

Do you have a place where you connect with nature? What kind of weather makes you feel alive?

Happy weekend, folks!

Monday, 12 September 2016


One day last week I arrived home early from work, as I had a meeting in the evening. There had been a sudden downpour not ten minutes before, and the sky was still dark and the ground was steaming as it was a very warm day. As I turned into our street I realized there were two small deer grazing in our front yard. We have been occasionally having deer visitors in late afternoon but I am not often home at that time, so I was delighted to catch these two in broad - although gloomy - daylight.

They watched as I drove slowly into our lane; then they began to drift toward our back yard. Carrying my camera with me all the time is beginning to pay off; I turned it on before getting out of the car, walked quietly to our veranda and very quietly to the end of it in order to see around the corner ... and this was my reward:


They didn't seem all that disturbed by me standing there and filming them. 

The larger of the two was a nursing mother, and I assume the smaller one was her baby from this past spring - it still had white spots, although they don't show up well in the video. The doe wasn't very large, so it pulled at my heart a bit - like seeing a teenage mother with a toddler.

Other than that, I was very happy to finally capture some of these graceful, beautiful animals on film in good lighting.

Elephant's Child, this is especially for you; an exchange, if you will, for all the lovely kangaroo shots you've shared on your blog and which I've enjoyed so much. It's been well over a year since I started my quest to get a picture of some of these guys. I suppose now they'll be standing six deep in the driveway every day just clamouring to have their pictures taken ... if so, I'll be sure to document it :)

Friday, 9 September 2016

Formatting Lessons? Why Would I Need Those?

This week I thought I'd use Wednesday Words as inspiration for my Friday post, which appears on Saturdays in some parts of the world.  Not at all confusing, is it?

Wednesday Words began with Delores (whose new blog is here), and it's being hosted this month by Elephant's Child. The words this month are provided by Margaret Adamson and Sue Fulcher.

To start, I'll just copy/paste the second list of words from Elephant's Child's blog.

Child's play!

  1. Staggering
  2. Lies
  3. Art
  4. Naked
  5. Preposterous
  6. Windmill.      

  7. Crap how do I fix this auto-numbering??

  8. Grrrrr!
  9. Guess I'll just write my little paragraph as number 12 then. Here goes:

  15. *sigh*

  16. Okay then, my paragraph follows ...
  17. Blogger's promises of "easy set-up" that I relied on when starting my blog have proven to be a staggering bunch of lies! The art of writing is being constantly undermined by the need to figure out how to format my naked thoughts. It's preposterous! I'm ready to go find the nearest windmill and jump off. Fortunately, I believe there's a rather wide ocean between that windmill and me. 

  18. *whimper*

  19. P. S. Have a good weekend, and thank you for visiting ..... :)
  20. (illustration courtesy of Pixabay)