Sunday, July 26, 2009

Just Another Walk in Paradise

rugosa rose with ripening hips

fabulous house on the cliffs

triple day lily with friend

incredible ginko biloba tree

sweet johnny jump ups

pelican weather vane

very cool dragon weather vane

dogwood tree after bloom. doesn't she look happy?!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Few of my Favorite Things

The earliest things I can remember collecting were tiny boxes. You know, the clear colored ones at the Container Store, the ones that are sold at nick-knack stores, itty bitty jewelry boxes... anything that could hold something smaller, a minute treasure or sometimes just a secret.

As I've gotten older, I've refined the items I find and keep (though there are those that would argue with me).

I am most often lured to smallish egg shaped rocks--perfectly egg shaped. Some are drawn to heart shaped rocks and others have their specific preferences. But I like egg shapes. There's something about picking up a piece of the earth and having it fit so perfectly in my palm... the stories that are held inside...

Feathers also move me. For as long as I can remember in my adult life I have collected feathers. I have left vast collections of feathers at prior places of work. My locker at my current job was filled with feathers, bones, and other goodies I'd found before I took them all home. Traci was spot on when she asked if I was a collector. Yes, I am.

When we arrived in Newport I asked the kids to take their treasures and place them on their night stands. I wanted them to be as excited as I was to be in a new place and to be able to showcase all it had to offer. Lillie has several large clam shells and Niles has a few things too. Brent has even begun his own night stand show case, but none are as comprehensive as mine.

The above collection includes shells and egg shaped rocks from the beaches we've visited, buttons (one with a killer ship on it that I found while talking with Niles on a walk and a teeny shell button found when Lillie was having a crisis on another walk), cast off silk flowers I've found in streets, a plastic covered cigar band, a gull feather and a hawk feather that I found in the ocean surf, a long pine cone from a pine tree in a cemetery where the most handsome cat was waiting for lovies, and beloved crow feathers that I've found and have been gifted with.

I've come to a huge self realization: I think I was a broody hen in a previous life with a penchant for shiny things.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The View

This is what I see when I look out over my pillows and out the window. You can't tell, but the rain is falling gently and it's about 65 degrees.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Wonderful Weekend in Maine

It's truly amazing (ok, maybe not amazing but you get my drift) to me that having lived in Texas all of my life, that you can actually leave a state within half an hour. That you can actually pass through several states in that same time. Compared to the fact it takes almost an entire day to get out of the state of Texas.

We left Rhode Island for Maine around 1pm. Within just a few hours, we had passed through Massachusetts, a little bit of New Hampshire, and arrived in Portland, Maine before dinner. BEFORE DINNER!!! We settled into our hotel and went about finding dinner. I tweeted about it all, complete with Lillie's breakdown and photos. Dinner was delicious. Becky's in Portland, Maine is THE place to eat. Ask Carol, our waitress. She told us about all of the celebs that eat there when they're in town.

The following day we drove into town and proceeded to walk the entire town. Yes, we know where the YMCA and the Teen Center are (and you know they are not usually located in the *sweet* parts of town!).

We came upon this newspaper bin. I think we were the only ones standing there laughing our butts off seeing how Spock had marked his territory.

Being so visual, I couldn't help taking photos of everything with colors. Portland is a beautifully colorful place. These watering cans were lined up in front of a storefront. I was on my knees getting these shots as Lillie ran ahead of me in hot pursuit of her notebook she had left at the smoothie store. Her impatience showed as she called over her shoulder for me to "come on Mom." in full 8 year old exasperation.

We walked the entire town, stopped in just about every shop, got in the truck and headed to Bath. We were worn out and welcomed a relaxing dinner on the bay.

This guy was our dinner companion. He was relentless in guarding his territory while remaining incredibly handsome and debonaire. He loved bits of bread and french fries, but wouldn't go near the steamed broccoli. Brent told me efforts were being made to teach gulls how to eat fish (their original diet) again since they've become scavengers and eat almost anything.

Up the next morning and off to Boothbay. While not as big as Portland, I still studied the map in order to form the perfect route to hit as many shops as our time allowed. That plan was put to rest when we encountered whale watching trips on the Pink Lady. Brent found out that the tours were 3-3 1/2 hours long (Gilligan's Island theme song anyone?) and we all weighed the thought, waffled about going, and after the coin landed tails up, meaning no whale watching trip, Brent bought tickets and we climbed on board the Pink Lady.

The homes on the bay were beautiful and the boats were picturesque. The ride out was windy, bumpy, cool and wet. Lillie and found our spot on the upper deck at the rear of the boat. We could still see everything and the winds were blocked by people.

As we neared 22 miles out from the bay, our guide told us to watch for the spout of the whale. The spout is formed when a whale breaks the water to get a breath of air and as they exhale, the warmth of their breath looks like steam. It can also reach up to 16 feet in the air. Sure enough, we saw our first spout.

After the spot, the whale broke water and our guide told us that we were looking at a Fin whale. We were so excited! Out guide told us that they will break the water three or four times then can dive and stay under for 7 minutes or so and sometimes longer.

We saw 6 whales--or the same one 6 times. We took a lot of photos and we have tons of memories.

We left Boothbay reluctantly.

Thank you Maine for the most exciting and beautiful weekend! We will be back!

Daylilies near Portland, Maine

I don't know if anyone else loves daylilies as much as I do. I stop whenever I see one and stand, mesmerized by their beauty. So you can imagine my excitement when we stopped at a visitor's center, off the highway, right after we crossed into Maine from Massachusetts. I thought it was some stanky rest stop with fliers in holders and probably all over the floors and rest rooms no one could use.

Was I wrong! This center looked like the botanical gardens. Burms of pines, maples, and fresh mulch were everywhere. Song sparrows were belting out their songs in the tops of trees. Daylilies were everywhere! And not just you average daylilies, but major banks of them! The foliage came up to mid thigh and the bloom spikes were near my waist--HUGE!!

The blooms ranged in size from almost as big as my palm (the light pink one with ruffles), to the size of a clementine orange (the second salmon/dark pink one.)

I have no idea what their names are but I called them heavenly. Click on any photo for a larger version.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A walk on Bailey's beach

(click on images for larger views)

There's an old wooden piling that can be seen when the tide is out. If only it could speak the stories it would tell! It catches the bits of everything and holds on to them, for comfort maybe?

There are stands of this seaweed on the rocks and when the waves come it, they are flattened. As soon as the wave recedes, they pop back up. Amazing strength!

The colors in this tide pool are breathtaking. I looked for little crabs or other sea life but to my naked eye, the textures and colors were all that I saw.

The rocks from the beach looked black, but when I got closer I found they were covered, sometimes two and three deep, by small little black mussels. They are the kind that when broken open have purple and white on the inside of the shell.

And these little guys were hanging on despite the tide. I didn't even try to move them--they knew where they needed to be better than I.

I find the beach to be so exciting and full of life. All of the different kinds of seaweed, empty shells, cast off debris, and the life that prevails even in the face of humans. Or, in spite of. I don't necessarily need to be in the water. Just being near, breathing the ocean air, hearing the waves and gulls revives me.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The sound you hear is not an injured animal!

When we first arrived here in Newport, Rhode Island, I was incredibly excited to get outside. I wanted to see, feel, and smell the GREEN that was everywhere. Everything was in bloom--hydrangeas were bursting in every yard. Roses were in full color, even in deserted lots. Maple trees were releasing their helicopter seeds to land wherever. And dogwood trees were blanketed in white and pink pinwheels of color.

Robins were everywhere--in the yard, trees, and on rooftops. Calling, singing, barking... it was magical. Other birds fit their conversations in the background--cardinals, sparrows, wrens, finches, crows, even fishcrows!! But there was one persistant greyish bird that would fly by, or just appear in the periphery of my sight. He was roughly the same size of our mockingbird, though certainly not as showy or gregarious. When I would try to get a better look the bird would fly away. I became more aware of this one--how elusive!

My gut said he was a catbird, but, in the beginning, I never saw his dandy black cap or his rufous undertail. Then he landed almost directly beside me as I smelled the roses bordering the driveway. I was able to capture this photo and thereby validate that he was indeed a catbird.

You cannot imagine my reaction to their call, incredibly different from their song. I can be doing anything and hear that call and immediately freeze to figure out where the animal in distress is located so I can run and SAVE them!!! I have to consciously remind myself that the sound is from a catbird and he is only sounding his location, not a cottontail or kitten that is in need of my help.

In the beginning of our stay, as I watched the birds come and go, I began to miss our mockingbirds. I missed watching them guard their territory against other mocker interlopers. I missed their day long songs. However, the more I listened, the more I heard the catbird songs that were similar, though not nearly as complex or varied, to our beloved mocker.

Oh, and here's something that made me giggle. I spotted my first catbird in Michigan several years ago. The "animal in distress" call led me to the edge of a thicket and finally to a sighting. The same call made me even more curious here. However, it never struck me, until recently, that the mew-call would be a direct reference to the bird's name. Mew call=catbird. Get it?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The 4th at King's Park

Niles and Lillie sitting on the ocean breaker wall. The flash was off so my camera took a ton of time to process the photos. While the shutter was still open, I can only reason I pointed the camera towards the fireworks. I think this is the best photo from the night.

Near the finally of the event. It was beautiful. The fireworks were over the water and we were in the marina. You could see all of the masts as you watched the fireworks. Midway through, all of the people on their boats began blowing their air horns. It was sooo funny--first you would hear mwaaaaa--deep. The meeeeee--higher. There was a chorus of horns and it seemed to rock the marina. We would laugh as each round sounded through the park and marina. I took a gazillion photos of fireworks hoping to capture that *one* amazing shot. I got a few nice ones and by the middle of the show, I began messing around with the camera to get some wonky shots.

(click on the pic to enlarge it and see just how wonky it is!)

This is my artistic (read: blurry) shot of Pell bridge all lit up. It's the bridge that connects Providence to Newport. I love the boats in the foreground...

And this is us. We kissed right after this and grossed Niles completely out (he was taking the photo). It was so worth it!!!

Hope everyone had as much fun as we did celebrating and being a part of our community. Even though it was a bit on the chilly side, we all really enjoyed it.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The cottontail makes it all worthwhile!

While we've been here in Rhode Island for just short of 4 days, I've already taken well over 400 photos--of robins, catbirds, butterflies, tons of flowers, the beach, gulls, feathers, and the kids. Yesterday when we got home (here in RI) this little one was in the driveway. Brent had told me of the little cottontail that used to share his mornings in the back yard as he had his cup of coffee, but this was the first time we'd seen her.

We've lived through the sun, wind, clouds, and rain in our little time here. Oh, and Fog. Fog you just don't mess with. You can see it moving between you and the person beside you. And even if the sun is shining at the house, that doesn't mean it's shining at the beach, or is as warm. It can be (gasp) 75 at the house and a mere 65 at the beach. Just boggles the mind.

I hope the next few weeks are as entertaining. I can't wait!!!