52-Week Project {Everyday Life | 2017 | Weeks 20 ~ 21 ~ 22 ~ 23}

Hello!  We are going to call this an epic catch-up post.  Life, man!  It’s a beautiful thing, and I am absolutely reveling in how blessed and fortunate I am to be busy with a chaotic schedule.  Healthy, happy, active children; a loveable and chewtastic pup and my poor old geriatric girlie; a best friend and life partner who cherishes me more than I deserve.  Work!  Sometimes I get wrapped up in the “what I’m not getting done”s.  Does anyone else fall into that pit?  It’s an ugly place and we should abandon it.  A messy and full life is truly a thing of beauty.  Grab on to the essentials and let the rest go.  (P.S. Posting here is part of “the rest” when necessary.  I knew the risks going in and was prepared for requisite adjustments.)

So, how about some photos??  I’m not sure when this turned into a gardening series.  It won’t last forever.  I don’t think.  But for now, it’s hanging on.  Actually, one of the photos in this catch-up post will break the trend.  But I may well return to it.

~ WEEK 20 ~

For week 20, I bring you lilac buds.  Of the pre-bloomed variety because they are truly SO COOL.  So cool.

Wk20 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 35 mm | f 3.2 | 1/80 s | ISO 100

Have I already claimed a favorite pre-bloomed blossom?  I may have.  Well, right at this very moment, the lilacs take the cake for me.  How crazy are these little guys??  It’s so neat to watch all of these plants change by the day.  And they move quickly.  Even faster than my kids change.  Which is saying something.

~ WEEK 21 ~

So the natural progression is to share with you the {almost} fully blossomed lilac, because at the time I snapped these photos a couple of weeks ago, they were still opening up and I couldn’t find a single blossom with all of the itty bitty buds opened.  And now, of course, they’re spent casings.  If other stuff weren’t so crazy right now, that would be my next part of the series…photographing things post-bloom.  Many plants are just as cool at that stage, and some even more so.  Maybe I will incorporate that if I pursue another photo project next year.  That would be an interesting and moody angle to pursue!

Anyway, on the way to {mostly} blossomed lilac…

Wk21 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 35 mm | f 3.2 | 1/200 s | ISO 100

As lovely as they are, I generally enjoy these from a distance as their odoriferous nature conflicts with my pulmonary functionality.  They are so pretty, though, and my favorite color to boot!

Here is a bonus, a bit closer to fully blossomed.

Wk21-bonus | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 35 mm | f 3.2 | 1/200 s | ISO 100

Ahhhh.  SO lovely.  And short-lived.  Here and gone in a breath.

~ WEEK 22 ~

This next one is crazy.  I’m not kidding.  Or exaggerating.  Even a little.  This is not a flower I expected any surprises from.  I’m not even sure why I bought these because I don’t really like them, truth be told.  I needed the color, but I’m a little annoyed at having them in my pretty areas.  Silly, but they’re just so basic…and I guess uninteresting to me.  Well, they were.  They are now redeemed because their pre-bloomed blossom is NUTS.

Ready?

This is a marigold.  Yep.  A marigold.  That same-old-same-old plant.  I think we all grew them in kindergarten.  I have probably killed the two my kinders brought home because that’s what I do with delicate and loved plants that come home from school.  Wait.  Youngest grew a morning glory, which we did keep alive the summer after kindergarten, but it didn’t really do much, and then by fall, it was dead.  Anyway, I digress.  A marigold.

Wk22 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 105 mm | f 3.3 | 1/800 s | ISO 100

Did you even know this thing looked so cool before it spills forth into its banal and actually-not-rabbit-or-deer-repelling self?  I have to say that I now have a new-found respect for this flower, and I no longer regret inviting it into my gardens for the summer.

~ WEEK 23 ~

Finally, in this catch-up post, we break away (momentarily? or not…don’t know yet!) from pre-blooms, blooms, and discussions of dead things.  And move on to … birds.  A logical progression, in some respects.  They both subsist outdoors, right?  But these are not birds that probably have much interest in flowers.  Actually, I don’t know whether that’s true or not.  I don’t know much about these birds, but I love them.  And I’m not really what I would consider a “bird person.”  I like watching hummingbirds, and birdsong is lovely mid-day, but I want to kill those mothers at 4:30 in the morning with the veritable cacophony they rain down upon my yard.  Loudness!  Backyard camping means bedtime VERY early.  Because I’m going to be awake from 4:30-6 a.m. till those birds are done calling the day awake.  Digression!

Let’s focus on a bird I do like.  The great blue heron.  This is my favorite bird, if only because it’s the one bird I would say I have some passion for.  I really like hummingbirds, but only just.

I have a few personal connections to blue herons that have probably triggered my love of this flighted giant.

Connection 1.

While I was in high school and college, my parents would rent this rustic little cabin on Cranberry Lake in the Adirondack Mountains.  I usually slept on a cot on the front porch, which faced the lake rather than the road and actually seemed like it should be called the back porch, but I’m told that’s because I’m not lake people.  Every morning around 5, I would hear the deep swoop-swoosh of a heron’s wings as it left the cove our cabin was nestled in…most likely in search of its morning meal.  It was loud but soothing at the same time, and I’d smile as I heard it leave for the day and then fall back to sleep in the silence it left behind.  (THAT is an acceptable and even enjoyable early-morning bird event.)  This occurred summer after summer after summer.  I actually can’t remember a time I slept on that porch and didn’t experience the heron’s morning exit from the cove.  It’s one of my favorite mental/aural images of an area that holds a very special place in my heart.  I credit this repeated experience as the foundation of my fascination with this animal.

Connection 2.

I worked for many years in downtown Rochester.  I parked, as pretty much anyone who works in downtown Rochester does, in a garage and trekked a short distance to my building.  Even when weather was rough, I generally loved this brief outdoor morning time.  Breathing a little fresh air is a great way to get the brain fully rolling.  Part of my trek involved crossing the Genesee River, and from the bridge on Broad Street, I would spy a lone heron down on the rocks.  It was there pretty much every day.  I looked for it as I crossed the river, and it gave me a nice glowy feeling to spot it standing stoically among the gulls, ducks, and detritus of the river.  There was something about that little slice of quiet that filled me up.  I think it pulled me to my happy place in the mountains.  Whatever it triggered, it was good.  I miss seeing that heron in the mornings.  We occasionally see them at home, but it’s a rarer event.

Connection 3.

Oh, and hubs and I attended a prom at the Blue Heron Hills Golf Course back in the day.  I can’t remember if we attended that one together or if that’s the one at which we decided we liked each other even though we were there with other people (hi Dave and Robin!).  But, that’s another connection of sorts!

Yes, a stretch.

¤¤¤

These birds are amazing.  They’re huge and graceful and use their beaks like a spear.  Can’t get much more wicked than that.  And they don’t chirp at 4:30 in the morning.  At least my Cranberry Lake heron didn’t.  They’re majestic.

Beau and I snuck a date day while the boys were at school and decided to check out Montezuma.  We weren’t sure whether it was something the kiddos would enjoy or not.  We tend to prefer get-out-and-be-in-it nature experiences, and we weren’t sure how much of this one required remaining in the car.  It was mostly by-car exploration, but there are a couple of trails and much animal eye candy, so we’ll be revisiting with them over the summer.

Anyway, there were herons everywhere we looked.  It was amazing.  We watched them stalk fish.  We watched them hunt and eat.  We watched them squabble.  We watched them glide gracefully through the quiet gray sky.  It was awesome.  Despite the remarkable experience, this is not a remarkable photo.  But it does show three herons.  And it was a shiny moment.

Wk23 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 105 mm | f 5 | 1/160 s | ISO 100

Thank you for your patience over the past several weeks of absence.  I do apologize.  I won’t even suggest that this neglect will not be repeated in future because I’m sure that it will.  Life is raw and real and it dictates priorities as much and often more frequently than we dictate them.  It is an ebb and flow, and I’m most successful when I allow myself to move with the current.  I wish you a beautiful week, with great hope that I will be posting again before it’s time to wish you a beautiful beginning to your summer.  Until next time!

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52-Week Project {Everyday Life | 2017 | Week 19}

I’m stretching these weeks into…more than weeks, but I’m rolling with it!  Kids rested, kids fed, kids dressed (preferably in clean-ish clothes), kids’ homework done, oh and most importantly kids loved…that is my must-do list every day.  I guess there is must-do time for the dogs, too.  OH!  And the husband.  He is still my favorite, so he might not count.  That’s time for me, too.  Anything I accomplish beyond that is a MAJOR bonus.  So the blog is definitely at risk of being back burnered when any of the above takes more time than normal.  Which happens regularly through just about every hour of every day.  😀

Anyway.  Here we are in week 20, with the week 19 post.  That’s pretty close, right?  The track is just right there juuuuust a smidge in front of me.

Many of the photos I’ve taken for this project haven’t been what I might consider photographically inspiring and have, rather, probably been more inspired by a topic that was spinning about my brain and needed to be written.  This week’s photo is one I do find photographically inspiring.  I love tulips.  I know they are basic perennial staples in many NE USA gardens, but they’re so pretty.  And happy!

I have quite a few colors to look forward to each spring–lots of red, and also yellow, pink, purple, and a very cool orange.  They are little pops of joy scattered among the greens of lovelies that will flower later in the summer.

Simple and sweet!

Wk19 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 105 mm | f 5 | 1/125 s | ISO 400

52-Week Project {Everyday Life | 2017 | Week 18}

Last week, I teased with an almost daffodil, and this week, the sweet reward of patience presents…the blossom in all its glory.

I have a long garden that runs the length of the side of my yard.  Someone lovingly planted it many years ago with a perennial plan in mind … and I have been abysmal at maintaining it.  It was a point of guilt for me for many years.  We talked about turning it over and just seeding with grass more than once.  But the flowers are so pretty, and even though I hadn’t kept up with the weeding regularly and didn’t replenish the mulch often enough, the flowers grew on.

Well now that my babies are, well, not even remotely babies any more, I’m able to do a bit more tending than I have been able to do, and I love it.  I love seeing whispers of sprouts in the spring and getting excited about them rather than just seeing one more chore I’m not getting to.  It feels great to have made some headway, and while my yard is far from what others would probably consider neat, it suits us just perfectly.  I always say we run a much more Weasley-ish ship than a Dursley-ish one.  (If this reference is lost on you, you should read Harry Potter.)

So the daffodils are thriving, and now that I have finally cleared at least most of that long garden of weeds and encroaching grasses, I’m seeing that those posies have become a bit scattered.  I moved a few plants earlier this spring, but there is more work to be done.  It’s neat to be able to get a sense of the planned layout and also to see how the plants have taken on a mind of their own and not stayed in neat rows.  I prefer some randomness with just loose patterns, so this year, I’m looking for areas that are bare right now and making notes about where to add some early spring perennials for next year.  All-in-all, though, it really looks pretty great considering that this is my thirteenth spring overseeing the garden, and probably only my fourth with any real effort.  It has held up spectacularly despite my neglect.  And I’m super grateful for that because all those blooms are a thing of beauty each day.

Wk18 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 105 mm | f 5 | 1/125 s | ISO 400

52-Week Project {Everyday Life | 2017 | Week 17}

We have another pre-blossomed bloom this week.  I won’t make you guess, and NEXT week, I’m bringing you the bloom!  I get more and more excited about the yard each year…probably because I have more and more time and make more and more headway in claiming our outdoor spaces each year now that my boys are entertaining themselves at least some of the time.

So I probably don’t need to tell many of you this is a daffodil.  I know only enough to be dangerous in my garden, but even I can identify these just from the greens in spring.  It’s so amazing to me to ponder how all of these flowering plants got started.  I mean, science is awesome and just thinking about the complexity of the human body kind of blows my mind, but flowers are complex little creatures, too!  Over the course of a week, I’ll see a pod, then I’ll see this miniscule glimpse into the very end of the pod like today’s photo, then I have a loverly bloom bringing a little sunshine to my yard during the rainier and transitory days of spring.  Crazy!  And so cool.

It’s incredible to me that the entire blossom is packed all neatly in this perfect little protective shell until it has achieved just the right conditions to gently reveal itself.

Simple beauty.

Wk17 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 105 mm | f 5 | 1/125 s | ISO 400

52-Week Project {Everyday Life | 2017 | Week 16}

I will be continuing my “yard waking up” series for the next several weeks.  Spring is good for the soul!  I’m always super reflective in spring…and also cheerier than usual.  I don’t think about myself being negatively affected by winter because I truly love winter.  But.  I definitely don’t have this fresh-and-fully-alive feeling through the winter.  It’s more a hunker-into-the-blankets-unless-we’re-sledding mode 🙂

This week, I bring you baby sedum buds.  They look like itty bitty flowers almost right out of the gate.  I love the greens as the sedum starts out, and I enjoy each stage of the plant all through the growing season.  I have this all around my front tree.  I purchased one plant several years ago to help fill out the space, but most of this has been transplanted from along the house in our backyard, which is currently given over to berry-bush snarls.  I find and move more every spring.  Which reminds me…that’s some spring work to add to the list.

The “crop” expands each year…slowly.  It always looks a bit sparse in spring when the patches of green first begin to sprout.  They’re very randomly scattered, too.  Sometimes I move them around to try to fill in balder spots–I’d love to get to a point where the whole area is blanketed.  I may plant seeds to encourage the expansion.  I had better get on that unless I want to wait until next year as I think I’m in prime sedum seeding season right now.  (Try to say that five times fast!)

This was the first perennial project I tackled when we bought our little house.  Eldest was a wee babe the spring I first began the relocation.  I put his pack-n-play in the yard and cleared out a big ring around the tree.  I then dug up every bunch of sedum I could find and moved it up to the new plot.  I can remember being so excited when the buds popped up the following year.  I really hadn’t considered myself a person who enjoyed gardening until then.  It was very satisfying to achieve a reorganization and have the plants survive!  Prior to that, I had only managed to keep a potted philodendron alive.  Everything else I had ever tried to have–all in pots either in college or in our apartment–had died fairly quickly.  It was such a boost to move something successfully and have it live and thrive.  I’m grateful for it as it springs up from the dirt each spring.

It was very moody out when I snapped this photo.  I love the moodiness of spring!  Maybe because I feel like I fit right in–haha!  I’ll aim to post pics of the fiery, pink blooms in August.  They are really lovely.  And then again in fall when they are lovely in a wholly different way.

Wk16 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 105 mm | f 3.2 | 1/125 s | ISO 400

52-Week Project {Everyday Life | 2017 | Week 15}

I do love when my flowers start blooming, but I almost equally love the blossoms of each plant just before they bloom.  They’re these {often} weird, stiff bodies of something that seem too uniform to become a billowing bloom.  But then they do.  The pre-blossomed blossoms are a promise.  They’re neat, and I love exploring around the yard and watching all of this wake up around me.

This week, I thought I was sharing wisteria with you.  Just before the blossoms came alive.  They have now opened up and are lovely.  Hmmm…maybe I should catch a snap of the bloomed plant.  When I looked up wisteria, though, to make sure that’s what this is, I found a fairly different plant.  I’m not sure what this little beauty is.  If anyone knows, please enlighten me.  It’s cool, though, and I rarely get the end of the garden cleaned up early enough where this little guy sprouts up each spring until after it has already blossomed, so I had never noticed the pre-blossom stage.

I also appreciate some of what blooms after the “beauty” has faded.  Probably most especially my sedum around the front tree.  It has cool pink blooms in August, and then into the fall, they dry out and are equally beautiful.

I hope that you are all enjoying your own welcoming-spring traditions and that you’re little corner of the world is seeing some glimpses of nicer weather.  We certainly have been.  The boys are in shorts more often than not already.  I’m not at that point yet, but I’m certainly loving the milder weather.  Yay for flowers blooming!!

Wk15 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 105 mm | f 3 | 1/125 s | ISO 400

52-Week Project {Everyday Life | 2017 | Week 14}

You know what comes out in the spring?  Frogs.  We see them pretty steadily through the spring, summer, and fall.  There is a monstrous toad that lives in and around our fire pit (don’t worry–we check to make sure he’s not in it before we start a fire).  He sometimes ventures up to the garden by the door and startles me while I’m weeding.  Or sits right on our welcome mat, just inviting disaster.  We also have a garter snake that I’m a bit fond of.  Outside.  I really hope the two never meet.  I think the toad is big enough that the snake is not a threat, but I have seen what snakes can do to accommodate a very large meal.  Anyway.  I digress.  Frogs and toads emerge in spring.

And then sometimes we find one on our door.

Yes, you read that right.  ON our door.  A frog.  Just…there.

It can be a startling moment. When I open the storm door laden with a bag of garbage to deposit in the big can around the side of the garage or, worse, balancing (probably on someone’s recycled homework paper) a stink bug that I’m relocating to anyplace that is not inside my house, I do not expect to have an animal encounter facing me down.  I just want to get outside, do whatever task I’m trying to do, and come back in.  These aren’t bad encounters, though.  Once I get past that initial surprise, I’m always impressed that these frogs are just hanging out on my door.  As in vertically.  And just chill as can be.  That’s impressive.  I’m tired just looking at them!

Usually, they’re clinging to the window of the door.  It has only ever happened at night, and we are fairly certain they are just trying to get as close as possible to the outdoor light so as to better reach the bugs that congregate there.

Well, we had a door visitor this week.  A very tiny little visitor who was positioned a bit more carefully than our froggy friends usually hang.  This one was at least using a minuscule ledge to hold himself to the door.  I didn’t want to startle this little visitor with a bright flash, so I monkeyed with settings and made a go at snapping a photo before the frog decided to move on.  The outcome is quite grainy, but I’ll take it.  I was excited to have a quick snap to share with the boys when they woke up.

We’ve been in our house for almost 13 years, and this has really only been happening for about the last five.  Have any of you had a frog hanging out on your door or window?  I’m just curious as to how “normal” this event is.

More signs of spring, my friends.  It is arriving, piece by piece!

Wk14 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 105 mm | f 5 | 1/100 s | ISO 12800