Thursday, December 31, 2009

Images from Some Bright December Days

Just for fun, here are some pictures taken on a few different outings over the holiday period. The first is special because it is of sunset on the Winter Soltice.

The next was a quick shot of a jet contrail as we waited our turn at the car wash on Christmas Eve. We often see contrail along the coastline but not as often across the east-west sky. Besides, it also shows how clear the day was.

The several photos that follow are of this season's version of snow geese. Last Sunday morning I was amazed at the shadows being cast through the house as V and V of honking geese flew overhead. In the early afternoon, we ventured out to Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge where we came upon hundreds of birds. What was different this year was that they were on the opposite side of the road than where they were last year. This is also early in the season so that will surely change.

Below is a view of the other side of the road. It is usually much clearer than it was on this day.

The next two photos were taken on Monday. The area is a field a very short distance from where we live. These farm areas are preferred feeding areas for the geese much to the chagrin of the farmers.

And, now, to the elusive heron. The pond has been very overrun with algae this year and we have seen little of the heron(s). The heavy rains, snow and cold weather have cleared the coves and this guy has returned. No matter what, it is a game trying to get a picture. These are of the heron in a tree as he flew the road just as I was pulling up to see if he were to be seen. At least on this outing I got an image however unclear. I will keep trying.

More outings to come in 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmastime 2009

Putting the Christmas decorations up, mailing the cards and wrapping the presents are among my top priorities of the year. Last year our goal was joyously interrupted by the birth on our grandson on December 12. I think it was mid-February before I completely accomplished my tasks. The decorations were up on time but all else was delayed. This year has been more of a challenge after my health scare of late November and early December and Bill's health issues this year. I vowed that I would not complain about them but they played havoc with my Christmas traditions.

With Erica's help we got our tree the week before Christmas but took several days decorating it. The tree is a Frazier Fir. We have gotten these since we lived in Spokane. Before that it was almost always a Grand Fir or a Noble Fir. The Frazier is a good fir for this climate and is a pretty tree. This year's model is thinner than usual and had a couple of holes that actually added to the beauty. We did not get all of our ornaments on the tree. We did get ornaments from every era of our acquisition of them. The tree turned out quite lovely.

During the days just before Christmas we managed to get most of the rest of our decorations out and up even if not in the originally assigned place. The stockings were hung but the mantel (another story) was not completed with its usual flair. The snowman/woman collections was set out and among the selected areas, it was the most complete. The collection of Santas was put in place and other corners of the house were adorned with lights and/or greenery.

A lack of energy prevented of our more grand d├ęcor but the biggest culprit during the week was the huge storm from the previous weekend. It came and left ice and packed snow everywhere. We were out of deicer and so Bill put kitty litter on the sidewalk to make sure I would not fall. A great temporary decision or so it seemed. Clumping kitty litter causes an incredible tracking mess. Christmas Eve day came and we were mopping for the fourth time three days. Finally, most of the tracks are gone. The downpour of Christmas night helped a whole lot too.

Our decorations usually come down on New Years but this year they will stay up through Epiphany. Most of the presents were wrapped an sent. There are still some stragglers and the cards will go out later this week. The good news is that we had a lovely, quiet Christmas and that we were here to enjoy it.

Our best holiday wishes to all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beyond the Panes

A few days before Thanksgiving I was looking at some pictures I had taken earlier in the fall. This one was there and I wondered how I had passed over it in other viewings. It's a little off kilter and not particularly pretty but for some reason I like this picture. It is the window that is part of the George Washington pew of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia. We were visiting there with our dear friends Terry and Ray from Oregon. The day was very warm and most of my other photos are of our being on the grounds outside the main building.

So, why am I so drawn to the window? Initially, I wondered about the history it saw from both sides. Then there is something about its humbleness. I try to imagine it being a little darker outside and candlelight reflecting through the panes. I am glad I found this picture. I like reflecting on it.

Thanksgiving weekend and the days that followed were traumatic one for me and my family and friends. I am doing well now and am hoping that the good Christmas elves will visit and help me get the decorations out and up and whatever.

When that is done, I going to start looking for other windows.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful

It is very gray and dreary here today. It was yesterday too. Sunday was gorgeous. I will take what sunshine comes our way. Many of the people we know here have bemoaned the fact that this has been a wet, windy and cold autumn. Last night one woman told me that the days we have been having are supposed to be reserved for January and February. So, the weather and conditions here have not been the best this year. I am thankful the rains have been sufficient enough alleviate the drought situation that has existed since we moved here. I am also thankful for the beautiful sunny days we have had.

Last of Autumn colors taken last week.

Mostly this year I am thankful for my family's health and happiness. I am grateful for the warm feeling that comes with a grin when we receive updates on our grandson. It is hard to believe that he will be one year old in just two weeks. His mother sent this yesterday and told us it was from yesterday's visit to the library – his first "turkey hand."

I am also very thankful for family and friends both near and far. May all of your days be of Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Summer is Gone

It has been a few weeks since I last posted. I have been going through one of the phases when I allow boredom to seep into my pores. I really have no reason for this except that it almost always happen during summer. I have always liked the fall and being here in Delaware has not changed that. Gone are the stifling hot last days of summer and first days of autumn. The first really cooling storms have come and after the storms the days have been extraordinarily clear. The season's change was special for us this year as we were fortunate that our friends Terry and Ray ventured to Delaware from Oregon for a visit. Then a week after their visit, our friends Robin and Dave came from Cape Cod. What a boost to my physic those visits were.

Autumn has come to Delaware. We are not into peak color but that will be in a few short days. I love to load Bentley and the camera into the car and travel around the back roads. I take picture after picture of stuff, mostly trees and come home and look at the pictures and say to myself, "Not too bad."

Here are some photos of the first of such outings. These were taken earlier this week. I hope to be out on Sunday when the changes will be more obvious. I also have to force myself to be more inclined to go out in the morning light, much nicer water scenes then.

The Broadkill River at Milton Memorial Park

Different angle of the same area

Wagamons Pond – sun too bright to show depth of color

There will be more later as I travel around Sussex Country and more.

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Drop in Temperature & A Drop in HUMIDITY

The last few days have become tolerable. The nights are significantly cooler and air has lightened. You can safely bet that I was wishing for a mountain retreat for a couple of weeks. But it is nicer now and the activity in the neighborhood has also increased. Kids have been out of their bikes and rasors. Some of the area schools have started and the rest are set for Tuesday. Every year at this time I want to go back-to-school shopping. Geez, you would think a body would grow out of that.

It has been a very quiet summer. Not much out of the ordinary was done or accomplished from our end. I must have had the "ho-hums." Why else would I get so excited yesterday as I was checking out the in need of clipping shrubbery and saw this "lady." If I remember correctly, this is the first Praying Mantis I have ever seen outside of an exhibition. I wish I had had my SLR but I did have my smaller camera and got a few interesting shots. It amazes me how close in color she was to the shrub. This specimen was much more interesting that the cricket that hopped out of camera case a couple of weeks.

That's about all that is happening here except Summer will officially be eulogized and buried on the beach this weekend in Dewey Beach. The beach aficionados around here take summer very seriously.

Happy Labor Day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Curious Happening

It has been difficult finding or deciding what to post on this blog. Our early and mid-summers were colder and wetter than usual. Hence, some stunted vegetation. Now that the days have warmed the temperature is reaching for all time records. When it is so warm the wind blows it is like the wind is simply sucking the moisture right out of any vegetation. The crepe myrtle which have amazed me with their beauty the past two summers are a little wimpy in color and mass of bloom. Other summer blooms are likewise lacking in typical flash. This strange summer has put me in a funk that makes appropriate posts improbable. Add to this felling a bit homesick I have stayed away from the blog.

The past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about my mom, about some of things we have done that I know she would have enjoyed, about her birthday, her mannerisms, her reactions to having even more great-grandsons and just that I miss her. These feelings have been more frequent lately as I wonder about one of my oldest friends dealing with some heavy issues in placing her mother into an assisted living facility. I thought about writing in this blog about what I have been feeling but decided not to for several reasons. So, you can imagine my reaction this morning when I checked one of the blogs I regularly read. There, right before my eyes, was my favorite picture of my mother when she was a child. Even more surprising was the title "Who is Moggie Loggin?" I first wrote about Moggie Loggin just a few days before her passing.

Well the mystery as to how that tiny little picture got to Portland, Oregon from here is solved. I am sure that it was in an envelope I used to send my friends information about our area. They will be visiting soon. At first I just could not fathom the picture being there and then I remembered that I had pulled a print of that picture out of the envelope and thinking, "How did that get there?" I do remember that I came across the little photo in much the same way Terry did. In the early fall of 2006 it appeared on the floor after I had spent a few hours going through some old photos that somehow ended up in my possession. I remember being almost mesmerized by the picture because I had never seen it before and because it captured the essence of my mother throughout her life.

Anyway, mystery solved.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer

For sure summer got here two plus weeks ago. Fortunately for us we have not had the high temperatures that our family and friends living in the western United States are enduring. Portland and Seattle are lot convection ovens, for lack of a better description. The big difference between there and here right now is that air conditioning is rather random there given the very mild climate while it is in almost every facility here given the summer heat and humidity. There the air is usually chilled by cool marine breezes. Here the waters get nearly as warm as the air. I am wishing all of you in the radical heat some cool in the coming days.

Monday evening we had a meeting downtown. When we arrived at the library there were two young boys riding together on a bike. Of course, they did not have helmets they were just enjoying zipping around like we used to do on late summer days. As we were getting close to crossing the street one of the boys looked back at me and said, "Nice shoes." I guess that goes to show I might not be as old as I thought (don't I wish). Another highlight of the evening was coming home and having fireflies flitting around in the yard. Fireflies are new to me, we did not have them in the west.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fun Find

It has been a drill trying to get back to this blog. I have not been out exploring the countryside much the past few months. Instead I have stayed very close to home. Perhaps too much time doing this. Recently I joined the Friends of the Milton Library. My first time working in the small gift shop the organization runs was last week. While I was shelving some recently received used books, I came across one that really caught my eye. I flipped through the pages and was drawn to a few drawings and to some very interesting topics like Mosaic of Subcultures, Identifiable Neighborhood, Eccentric Nucleus, Old People Everywhere, Life Cycle, Garden Growing Wild, and many others. The book is in excellent shape and who can resist the price, $ 0.25? Best 25 cents I have spent in a long time.

What an informative book this is. I have not started to read it through but I have opened it just for fun and read a short section wherever I happen to flip it open. For a "technical" book, this is a captivating look at "towns, building and construction." Published in 1977, this is Volume 2 of Center for Environmental Structure Series. The other two volumes are Volume 1, The Timeless Way of Building and Volume 3, The Oregon Experiment. Sometime I will have to check out the other two volumes. Real Estate developers should be required to carefully read these books.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Not Much Going On Here

Unlike the past two summers I have not been out and about much to see the countryside. To tell you the truth it has been crusty here. Today the sun is shining brightly and we have summertime warmth. We had a an almost nonexistent spring as can be evidenced by the lack of annual planting in the front. I realized late last week that winter wheat has been harvested and the corn is growing rapidly. Only three weeks ago I noticed that the corn was about six inches high on some farms and had been washed away in patches on some farms because of all the rain that has fallen. Last week the corn was two-three feet tall on most farms. Local corn, squash and tomatoes soon – yippee.

The photo was taken by either Erica or Bill when they were at the beach the beginning of the month. I never see such fun things here in Milton. I guess I should get out more.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cloudy Days

This spring has been a rainy one. We have had a few sunny days but mostly the days have been overcast. It always takes me off guard when I look outside, the gray clouds are rolling by and the wind is blowing. Then when I step outside and realize it is quite warm. Right now it looks like I should put a windbreaker on to do some errands. The fact is, I will more comfortable in a sleeveless top. Will I ever get used to this?

There are times during most days when I gaze out and see some special moments in the sky. Yesterday, just before dusk, the clouds to the northeast were beautiful. It was a rather pastel sky with light blues and pinks trying to color the clouds. The above photo is a little later on but it does show how lovely the sky was.

Summer is officially here on Sunday and the projected forecasts are for clearer days next week. That will be nice. Even I, the one who does like really warm days, would like a little of the sunshine of summer. The vegetable and fruit stands are opening up, I can hardly wait for local tomatoes and sweet corn.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Different Kind of Weekend

Last weekend was very nice. Our daughter and her family visited. It was a beach weekend for them. Bill is always ready for that. It was especially nice because we got time with our grandson who is growing so rapidly. We even got a little babysitting time.

This weekend is very quiet. It is overcast today, at least it is not raining. There was enough of that during the week. I am glad it is not really nice outside because we would be tempted to go out and explore places. The problem is that Bill had radiation treatment this week. He is a little "hot" until Monday afternoon. As a result, he is confined to the house. He can go out and walk the dog. He is not to have direct contact with other folks until Monday. I was tempted to frame a photo of him with a yellow-orange edge but then thought better of it. The radiation is the step before he starts taking thyroid again. He had a thyroidectomy in early April. A very large tumor on one lobe was malignant. The prognosis is excellent. For this we are very grateful. Be that as it may be, it is still a bit nerve racking.

This curve ball has been just that, a strike. We will adjust our stance and hit the next out of the park.

Monday, June 01, 2009

No 55+ Neighborhood for Me

There are a lot of retired folks living in the subdivision. There are also several families with very young children and some families with kids in adolescent and teen years. If you were inclined to learn the story of each family you would find a patch work of life. You would also find the common threads making the neighborhood. With each individual, couple or family moving in the dynamic of the neighborhood changes a little. It changes more so when they move out of the neighborhood.

It has become more and more popular for retired or more mature folks to seek out the commonality of the 55+ neighborhoods or developments be they single homes, condominiums or apartments. I suppose it would be easier to develop social networks with such living arrangements. But, I, for one, believe that the neighborhood with young, not so young, older and retired is more vibrant than the single focus one. For the last few years I have been struck by the energy that little kids bring to an area. When we first moved here there was only one small girl and one younger boy on our street. The girl has an older brother and sister and the boy has an only brother. There was also a younger boy we did not see much. It was a very quiet place but lacked the vitality active children bring. Keep in mind the small street we live on has over twenty houses.

Last May a young family moved in next door. There were four very young children who ran to their hearts' content from dawn until dusk. Bill became quite enamored with them as they called him Mr. Bill. He liked being called Mr. Bill. By summer's end there were two more families with younger children who moved into the neighborhood. And, by year end there was at least one more family. It was wonderful watching them play. It was wonderful having more than two trick-or-treaters.

Yesterday the family next door moved to Maryland to be closer to the father's work. The day before the little boy and another boy were playing tag or the like when the other boy asked, "Who's that?" To which the neighbor boy replied, "That's Mrs. Bill." I thought that was very cute.

Mr. and Mrs. Bill are going to miss those little rascals.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Curiosity

Yesterday I was putting some things away and required a stapler. Of course, the stapler was empty. I reached into the desk drawer and pulled out the trusty of blue box of staples. I filled the stapler and as I was putting the box of staples back into its drawer, I thought. "We have had this box of staples for a long time." For some reason I looked at the price tag still on the box and was more than a little surprised to see the tag printing, "University Bookstore, $ .95 each."

The curiosity here is that the box of staples has been serving us for a long while. How long is the question? My guess is that it is between 25 and 45 years. I think I shall take on a little exploration to see if I can determine if nothing else the university bookstore where they were purchased.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

More Spring Beauty

This past weekend we travelled to Arlington for a Kentucky Derby Party. That was all fun and good but upon arrival into the area we were awed by the blooming of pink and white dogwoods, other flowering trees and the colorful azaleas. There were places that the colorful bounty resembled poufy pillows. Just as it was when we visited the Cherry Blossoms, the weather was overcast, rainy and very cool for the season. The advantage of this is that on cloudy days it is easier to see the differences in the colors of the foliage, there are a gazillion greens, a multitude of pinks, and wide range of lavender to purple. With this, join me to view some of the highlights of what we saw.

The three views above are of some Erica and Geoff's azaleas.

This is a retaining wall around the corner.

Last year a local acquaintance suggested that a visit to the National Arboretum when azaleas are blooming is not to be missed. We did go last year but we were four or five days past the peak. We decided this year that if what we were seeing in Arlington and the District was any indication, then a stop at the Arboretum on our way home was a must. Because it was raining we did not leave the car. There are many more beautiful sections on the hills above where we were but these photos give a good indication of what we saw and what is deeper in the woods.

Monday, April 20, 2009

“Where’s the Beef?”

Thursday was Bill's birthday. He gets the day off and has to take that day or he loses it. We decided to take a drive up to Lancaster County, PA since it has been some time since we last were there. It was a beautiful day. And we are glad we made the trip which has become one of our favorites.

We have yet to make a visit to this country and not see laundry drying on a clothes line. Thursday must be the day for light colors and whites. Other trips we have made on Saturdays the clothes on the line are always dark. We can say that the two photos below can be called "Going Green."

Wash Day

Alternatives to Fossil Fuels

When we got to the specific spots we were wanted to visit it was past lunch time. We did not find restaurants immediately with good access from where were situated on the busy roads. We made a couple of stops on our trek to find a descent lunch. We stopped at the farm where we get homemade root beer and then the site of the farmers' market we always visit. We got root beer but the farmers' market is closed on Thursdays. That was where we could get an excellent sandwich. Well, we finally stopped at very big restaurant. It was well after 2:00 p.m. by then. I was trying to find just the right combination that was satisfying and healthy. Bill went for sausage and from the huge list of vegetables he took mashed potatoes and white corn. I finally decided that it has been a long time since I have had a good burger that that is what I would order, healthy just got tossed out the window – it was to come with onions, homemade relish, pickles, tomatoes and lettuce, all on a Kaiser roll (some healthy).

Our order came and Bill dug right into his selection. I put some ketchup on the side with the tomatoes and onions after which I closed the sandwich. I thought it a little odd that when I closed the burger the roll's bottom was on top. The vegetables were hanging well out of the burger. I started to eat it by cutting into it and eating with my fork. I have done this for a few years. I did not cut in half like I usually do. I took a couple more bites and decided I should adjust the innards as I thought the burger had slipped to the back. As I did this I realized that there was no beef. I was momentarily taken aback thinking that the healthy food gods were laughing at me. I had not eaten any beef and I swear I looked under the tomatoes and under the lettuce. Where's the beef? Not in that burger for sure. After everyone had a good laugh, a new burger was delivered.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It is a Really Gray Day in Delaware

It has rained all day. Not a light rain but a get down and do it rain. Entirely appropriate for April 15. That might be, but I could use some sunshine. To make the day worse my printer is broken and I am hoping it can be fixed. It has been a great printer and I do not want to fork over bucks to replace it.

Tomorrow is Bill's birthday. He gets the day off so we are going to drive to Lancaster County for a day trip. It is supposed to be nice tomorrow. Let's hope so.

It is so wet out I have no desire to take my camera out of the bag. Besides, the Delaware countryside is almost invisible in this weather. What's the best thing (always the best) to post when no new photos of Delaware are available? It has to be a new picture of our grandson taken by his mother on Easter Sunday. It was taken while he was in his carseat. Those eyes make me forget about the clouds.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Some Final Views of 2009 Cherry Blossom Visit

The 2009 edition of the National Cherry Blossoms was one where the blossoms reached their magnificent peaks last weekend. That was about four days after our visit. The weather remained chilly through most of the week. That slowed the fullest of the display of blooms until Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It would have been wonderful to be there then but there are no regrets from us. We still enjoyed a wondrous display.

Each time we visit the area we see from afar and sometimes close-up the Washington and Jefferson Memorials. How close we get to them and others depends on what activity we are planning. The first year we visited the cherry blossoms we opted to walk past the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Last Year and this year it was a highlight. Included in the following images are some of the monuments. I never seem to tire of seeing them.

Last year while going through my Cherry Blossom photos I lost the external hard drive where I had stored the photos. Fortunately I was able to find someone who was able to recover most of the files and replace the hard drive for me. This year I have been much more cautious and therefore slower in getting these posted.

So, here is a final look at our version of the National Cherry Blossoms 2009. (click on photos for larger view)

One of several views of the Washington Memorial.

The headquarters (Castle) of Smithsonian

Jefferson Memorial – Look closely and you can get a glimpse of him looking out.

Along the way we encountered this. Even I had to duck.

Blossoms look as if they were placed on a mirror.

A canopy of blossoms

The rear entrance to the FDR Memorial

There was some blue sky

A dark cloud came over the Basin

The water looks so very cold.

The sun came back.

FDR words on civil rights relevant today.

Words of FDR still significant.

The Lincoln Monument from the front entrance of FDR Memorial.