Thursday, December 08, 2011

Still here

Stella came to me not long after we returned from Rhode Island. I had "put the word out" so to say that I was ready for a kitten... but I wanted a calico, preferably a torti colored one like Forrest's cat, Jemima. Early one Saturday morning I received a phone call about a teeny two week old kitten at a pet adoption event. No one could take her, all of the agencies were full. So I took her and named her Stella.

She and Jemima have this 'thing' going on and I was intruding when I took this photo, because they were certainly NOT playing with each other... in fact, it was a coincidence they were even near one another... on opposite sides of that little dresser.... in the sun and shadow....

Lots of things are happening right now and I am not in a place to journal it all right now. So, enjoy the photos of my little dilute calico girlie... she has my heart...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Time Passages

Three years ago 2008:


Now, 2011:


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Meanings Aren't Lost on Me....

As I sit here, after taking Lillie to school, watering the front gardens, and playing with Baby Stella, I hear the scrub jays calling for more seed/peanuts. I hesitate instead of jumping right up as they've trained me to do. I wonder if the deer are still around? The deer watch the feeder for regular visits from the birds. They have learned that those regular visits mean snacks. They raise up on their hind legs and kick at the feeder thereby spilling its contents on the ground below. Those girls are smart.

There's quite a parade of deer that pass through the yard every day. We keep a bucket and two birdbaths full of water for them and whomever else passes through. This place is parched. From the ground up. The least we can do is give them water. We owe the wildlife that much.

This morning, as I watered the gardens, a neighbor stopped on her way to work to tell me how much I looked like Snow White. The girls (3 doe) were near me, waiting for the bucket to be filled. That neighbor doesn't know how she made my day. I filled the bucket and watered another part of the garden and the girls took turns drinking deeply. There's something about the quiet of the morning in the yard knowing they're there with me.

The front yard has turned to dirt. The native grasses that used to cover the dirt have given up in this drought. Rocks surface making the well worn deer paths look like they belong in dust bowl photographs of long ago. I studied the dirt and wondered if it still held nutrition to foster life or had it lost hope. Wondering if there are seeds mixed in. Just waiting.

Eventually the rains will return. And all things will relax. And refresh.

Brent and I stood under the grapevine arbor in the back garden the other evening. The sprinkler was on full blast and the water eased through the grape leaves. We talked of feeling like it was raining, the sound of the water hitting the grape leaves, the mulch, the other plant leaves. And the rising fragrance of Garden reminded us of Newport. We breathed deeply and smiled.

Brent dreamed of rain that night.

I watched a humming bird come through the back garden as I watered one morning. She stopped and perched on a grape vine, drops of water dripping on her head. She leaned left and right to get as many droplets as she could. I froze keeping the sprinkler just inches away from her. She chipped when she saw the gentle shower and wove in and out, chirping and hovering. She then landed on a leaf of the nearby sandpaper tree and squatted down into the cupped leaf to wet her belly. Finally, she flew to another branch of grape vine and began to preen.

All of this happened in seconds but I hope that memory lasts my lifetime. The way the sun shone on her excited eyes as she found the water. The glow of the droplets as she danced within them. And her pleasure as she preened, unhurried, in the morning light...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Newport, Rhode Island

Lafayette at King's Point park.

gull prints at the beach.

flowers at the farmers market on Main.

my absolute favorite place in the world. Bailey's Beach. There's no place like home.

historic neighborhood.

I've immersed myself into Place. Fitting into Place. Feeling Place. Feeling this place.

The last couple of years, I've photographed large scapes of this Place--parks, skies, water... and this year I am zeroing in on the minute--shells, flowers, and people. Reflecting.

Sadly, I cannot post the sounds--fog horns in the night time fog, crows calling and passing through, terns circling and calling to one another in their spiral. The breezes through the trees... trees I don't know the names of; trees that I've only seen in books.

And today a light rain, a slow cleanse. Making everything shine a little greener. And I sit at a table beside an open window (screen is up too), catching flicks of drizzle that the breeze blows in. I look out the window of this third floor historic house and see as a bird--rooftops, shed tops, but not quite tree tops. The trees are tall here. So very tall. They embrace the homes, not protectively, but expand into the leftover space. In that, they hide the buildings. It's incredible to be passing by what you first think is a growth of green and see in between the foliage a huge mansion.

For this post I am using photos I've taken with my phone camera. I have a nifty app that's called Retro Camera that includes 5 options of camera to use, each with a different result. I find I like the 'Little Orange Box' camera for it's aged and bordered effect.

These are from the camera 'The Barbl':

There are so many more photos that I would love to add... and it seems as time flies every single day that we are here. This Place is so magical for me. It's a place of mystery, of ancient whispers through the tall trees, of grounding wisdom washed upon the short every 7 seconds. I can take deep cleansing breaths here and stand a bit taller. Even though 7 weeks seemed like a long time in the beginning, it's absolutely not enough.

I love you Newport.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Reprieve from Hell

A statue in my garden that I've deemed a Poor Clare sister. She keeps all beings company and is a friend to all.

We had loaded up the little red rental car and were on our way to the aquarium. We needed to get out of the house early in the day--rain was forecast for the afternoon and being inside all day would have meant a tense evening (for me!).
We saw the red tail hawk as we pulled out of the driveway and I stopped the car. She was huge against the deep blue of the sky and was being harassed by 3 of the resident crows. They were doing a dance known only to them. One crow would fly from behind the hawk, swoop beneath her, then pull up so close in front of her face that I was sure they would crash. But they never did. The crows took turns flying this maneuver and we sat in rapt attention.
Soon, swallows, swifts, and sparrows joined in the chase. The hawk never panicked, she just kept gliding. The crows lost interest and faded into the tree tops and Niles noticed one brave sparrow was riding the hawk's back. Sure enough, as we continued to watch, that sparrow would fly over the hawk and land on her shoulders for seconds at a time, then lift off, circle around and do it again! I've seen the photos online of larger birds doing this but have never seen it firsthand. We talked about what we had witnessed almost the entire trip!

We've escaped the torture of Summer in south central Texas and ended up in a bright green and deep blue paradise. We're back in Newport, Rhode Island for the summer. Back to where weather is a kind and gentle partner in life and not out to kill every living thing. Where we sleep with open windows and under comforters at night. When at the height of the afternoon, when the temperatures are at their highest (high 70s!) we have a choice of beaches to visit...

We visited the Newport Art Museum and giggled as we walked up the stairs to the second floor. Paintings of people long gone decorated the walls and Lillie (or Brent... or Niles) mentioned it felt like Hogwarts (the wizard/witch school in Harry Potter) except the paintings weren't moving or talking...

The kids and I took a touristy walk and ended up near some of our favorite shops by the water. I've seen beautiful photographs of boats and cannot seem to catch the same magic. The shops hug the pier and it's unusual to this landlubber to see masts and hulls against the backdrop of shops and restaurants.

OH the flowers that are in bloom here!! I have gasped at the huge flower clusters of hydrangeas and stolen deep smells of the wild rugosa roses at the beaches. But I adore the stands of daisies that are tucked here and there. These are not the short ones either--some are 5' tall!!! I am currently trying to muster the wherewithal to knock on a particular resident's door down the street and ask if I can cut a bunch for our place. It's the small things (or in this case, the tall things) that put me in Place.
I think everyone has that memory they've stored to access when they need a smile or a good feeling... or just embrace the grace and magic that put you in that one place in that one moment. Who can be down when they're looking at a cluster of smiling daisies? They remind me of summer and warmth and sunshine and pastures and horses and hay... Perhaps I will take a photo of the gardens the next time we ride our bikes.

We went to the Newport Kite Festival last weekend and this is my favorite photo of all that I took. We intended to stay just a little while and ended up staying all day long. A wily wind rider in an otherwise serene sky...

There is a hill where professional fliers were able to perform and do demonstrations. Below the hill were vendors and fields for everyone to fly their kites. I spent most of the day on the hill photographing the pros. In the afternoon, I took a walk down the hill and couldn't help but smile. There were families all over the place flying kites. Strings held children's wonder and parent's memories of their own childhood. It was an amazing feeling. Kites make people look UP. Everyone looks up... a whole community looking skyward.

On another walk the kids and I found the most amazing Tibetan shop. It smelled delicious and we touched every single item in there. I couldn't help take several photos... while I can't remember exactly the stories the guy there told me about the hierarchy of entities, the whole place was magical.

At the beach. The wind was blowing something awful and we hunkered down against the fence. I looked to the side and couldn't help but take a pic--hope this one ends up in my art. As if the the fence held back the grasses.
Thing is, it was very bright outside, I didn't have my glasses on, and I couldn't see the face of my phone. Basically I shot this blind, hoping the end result was the same as what I had in my mind. And it was.

Watching Niles fly his kite. The wind is gentle, almost too gentle to fly a kite. The sail boats are out in the ocean and the sun is in decline. I lay in the cool sweet grass and am often called upon to untangle string and launch grounded kites. Ahhh the life I live!!

As Niles flew his kite, Lillie and I went sea glass hunting along the shore line. We didn't find a lot of sea glass but did stumble across the Secret Beach of Miniature Shells. Immediately I began collecting the ones that had the curves worn off, exposing the inside spiral. Many began looking a lot like the chambers of the heart--yes, you do hear art in the making!!! The tide was coming in and collecting became a race of getting the perfect shell before the water washed it to another location.

We took a long bike ride after our morning refreshments at our favorite coffee house. We explored a dock where crab traps were stacked 10' tall (I secretly wished them all rendered useless) and explored neighborhoods we hadn't seen before. The streets were very narrow but the homes were all very colorful. I stopped in the middle of the street and took this photo--while it is in black and white, imagine the trees the most beautiful green you've ever seen, the bluest skies, and each home a different color--slate blue, butter yellow, coral, teal, midnight blue, red.... and the flowers--phlox, freesias, daisies, day lilies, roses, hydrangeas--in all colors... a riot!!!

I feel our time here is slipping by faster than I can fathom. There is talk of perhaps relocating here and the thought terrifies me and excites me at the same time. But for now, we relish and embrace everything Newport has to offer.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Month in Photos

I really enjoy going back over photos I've taken--they tell the story of what I've been up to and where I've been, and jumpstart stories and memories...

I have been trying to get a really good candid shot of Sister Girl. She's been with us almost a year and daily I can't get over the change in her. She's gone from a frightened emaciated shell of a dog to a vocal, mind of her own, almost chubby girl. Her coat that was once dull and missing in patches is now shiny and slick (we never guessed she would have chocolate highlights!). Her eyes still sometimes show her painful past but they are so full of love more often than not. She has never shied away from a stranger and loves being the center of attention in groups.
I've considered taking her for training as a therapy dog and maybe someday we will do that. Until then, she is very established in our family pack.

There is a part of one of the gardens that I've not touched in the almost 13 years we've lived her. I've fenced it in and have watched to see what grows. One group of plants I haven't seen in awhile are the native columbine. I've not been in the gardens for the last couple of years so they've been on their own. I love their fern like foliage and star burst flowers. I've never seen the tiny yellow stamens dancing on the breeze.

I haven't seen this penstemon in years either. She's growing behind the columbine. I've been very lucky in that the deer haven't found her so she's quietly going to seed ensuring next year she will have company. I used to grow plants like these when we lived in Clear Lake outside of Houston. What a fond memory to go with such pretty flowers.

I took a trip out to the sanctuary with Lillie not long ago. Since the weather was cool, the residents were available for admiring and even enjoyed Lillie running back and forth behind me... we could only guess what they were thinking about a little blonde girl running around and what size meal they would consider her. (Not the Lemurs-they're vegetarians.)

When I took this photo, Lillie had just run away from me while I was trying to get one more Easter photo. We were at Daddy's place and we all put out our best effort to get past the wind's obnoxiousness and enjoy the moment. If the eggs hadn't had so much candy in them I'm sure they would have been blown against the pasture fence nixing all of the 'Easter Bunny's' hard work!! One perfect moment with so much magic and grace and bliss... It was a trying Easter with emotions from one end of the spectrum. But we got through it and are all better because of it. Next time it won't be as hard and the next might be a little easier...

Out in the back yard, I've begun to fight the grass and put the raised garden back into production. I've neglected it for several years and am finally back to wanting to be outside with my hands in the dirt. Upon getting rid of all of the grasses, I had to cut back the native mustang grape vines that had almost completely encircled the top of the fence that protects my garden from at least deer (bunnies and dogs have found their way in). We now have an agreement--any stray arms that are disrespectful get whacked.
So one day while I was threading wayward growth into the range fencing, I happened upon a little finch nest about nose high. I sneaked a peak and saw one tiny egg. Two days later, I saw three and the following day there were 4. I never thought to get my camera out early on, but when I did, I had to hold grape leaves back with one hand while holding the camera above my head and hope I got a good photo.

And finally, being outside can bring many gifts, and in the spring where storms brew in a moment, migrating raptors are right up near the top of my list of amazing experiences for me. We saw these guys, maybe 30 at a time, sail over the house. Some were so high they were specks, and others were so close you could almost see individual feathers. After the third group passed over, I finally got my bird book out and discovered they were Mississippi Kites The storms had either flushed them up from the south or they were just pushed inland by the circling storms. Not that we got any of the rain, but they made my day anyway.

I've been in the gardens far more than I have in years. I've relished getting back in touch with the deer, birds, and most definitely the earth. I've also mourned the loss of the finch nest and eggs by forces unknown and wonder what the house finch couple will do now--return and begin another family or have they deemed the grapevine too dangerous. Against all odds, the lone tomato plant has one little tomato on it and I hope that means the rest of the garden is just waiting--for dirt, mulch and love. Mostly though, I have had the time to get myself back together and that's probably my greatest feat.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


I heard the wrens talking about it before it got here. They were around the house even when it snowed. Then two of them came in the back door one morning when I had it open to enjoy their songs. They both made it out, however one will be re-growing their tail feathers for awhile.

Then the snowbells broke ground and I knew it was just a matter of time before warmer weather and sunshine would be here to stay.

Working in the yard for the last few days, I discovered the agarita in full bloom. It was a windy day the day I took these photos so there were few bees. Know that they are now here in full force, pollinating away! When the day warms up, the breeze dances with their honey fragrance all over the yard...

And what would a spring time post be without a tribute to the peach trees?

And, the resident mocker is here, always on, always watching. His songs permeate the walls (and windows) of the house and I have found a comfort in his joy of storytelling. He's now added the barn swallow song to his repertoire... purple martin calls will be added next as they're just arriving in the area. As I water the gardens he shows up and serenades me from the top of the trees and sometimes in the lower branches.

And my pasture friends accept the season's change as they do everything else--in stride.

Happy Spring to you--

Friday, February 04, 2011

Sicka than a dawg...

This is a photo that melts my heart--the whole event melted my heart and I had to capture the moment.... Lillie had been sick for about 2 days (the flu hit her school like a tornado and fully 2/3s of the kids were out sick before it was all said and done...) with fever and stomach issues and all she did was wander pitifully around the house, no purpose and no comfort to be had.

Brent was geared up to make bread and invited her to help. That changed her washed out ill demeanor completely. Although I am not even allowed to touch Brent's kitchen aid mixer, sweet sickly baby had permission to RUN the thing...

Watching her brought back memories of my own self at 9 years old, making brownies all by myself and feeling quite accomplished. And even though she lost interest when the dough had to 'rest' the first time around, we all ate the bread knowing that this would be the first of many accomplishments in her life.... and we could taste the possibilities, warm from the oven, slathered in butter....