Sunday, November 25, 2012

that bitch, sandy. also, bug calligraphy.

And just like that, Thanksgiving has come and gone. Sweetie and I visited his fam in deepest New Jersey, and came back last night.

Stuff I’ve seen lately:


Bug calligraphy in a downed limb in the woods near where I work. This is the day before Thanksgiving.



I’m quite sure that an entomologist/cryptographer would be able to make some sense of this.


Somebody’s seed head. I didn’t visit this guy all summer, so I have no idea who it is.


This is from a sort of mini day lily that’s planted along a pathway. Looks like a set of ribs, no?


Definitely ribs.

There’s even a pond rimmed with cattails.



Onwards to The Garden State.

So, the love of my life grew up not far from Seaside, scene of major devastation from That Bitch, Sandy. In fact, he grew up mere steps from Barnegat Bay, which separates the mainland from the barrier island that Seaside is on. (Oddly, I’m not sure what the name of the barrier island itself is.) The south end of that island consists of Island Beach State Park, a favorite place to visit when we’re there. But access is limited in the wake of Sandy...


Here’s a Sandy-inspired art project in a town park in Shelter Cove. Pretty grim stuff.

To get our dose of nature, we visited the woods just across the street from his childhood home. It’s a former estate that by the time he was in college, had morphed into a park. The buildings have all been torn down and what’s left is a bit of what this part New Jersey intended to be before we came along and paved the hell out of it. It’s got your classic pine barrens/sea coast woods ecology. And deer! We saw two does bouncing along through the woods.

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Plenty of holly.

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Loads of pitch pine trees. Southern red oak, another kind of oak I’m thinking might be black jack, black gum...highbush brier vine.... we could have gone visit the little nature center in the park to learn more...but it was flooded six inches deep during the storm and won’t be open for a while. I hope the turtles in the terrariums there are OK. They are beyond beautiful.

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We saw a ton of downed trees that I couldn’t do justice to with a macro lens. Thanks, Sandy. Actually, downed trees are what make possible the bug calligraphy shown earlier... and presumably the birds go to town on the beetles, so big picture, it’s OK...unless you happen to own a house in Seaside. In which case, you’re quite possibly screwed.

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You get a great view of the back side of Seaside from the park.

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Someone from out there lost their jet ski in the storm, and it floated all the way over here and over the causeway.

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It was a gorgeous day for a walk – probably upper 50’s or low 60’s and not a cloud in the sky.

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I don’t think I’ll be a bird photographer any time soon.

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I made Kevin take a picture of me.

The only drawback of the day? Finding a goddamn tick on me later that evening – my third in two weeks. The first one, a couple of weeks ago, was crawling around on my wrist when I found it and dispatched it. The other two got nice and settled in for a few hours before I found them. Shudder. The internets tell me I should be OK – that it takes 12 to 24 hours before a tick’s been clamped in before you can start getting infected with whatever crap they’re carrying. Blegh.

As for the purpose of the visit to NJ, we had a great Thanksgiving that couldn’t be beat. Awesome food was had. We were serenaded on the saxophone by our 11 year old nephew. I ate too much. I went for a run. It was great.

This morning, I did an eleven miler that about killed me. I am not in as great shape as I was a few months ago, when I was training for the Tough Mudder or my most recent half marathon – largely because I haven’t been lifting weights – but Kev and I took advantage of all the New Jersey pavement (translation: malls) to go to some sporting goods stores. We got a weight bench, an Olympic bar, and weights. Hah. I’ll be lucky if I can bench the bar, let alone the bar with weights on it. Soon you’ll hear the grunts and curses that go along with that particular brand of fun!

Monday, November 19, 2012

saving the world, one photo at a time?

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Another gorgeous, blue-sky morning, the world dipped in frost.

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By the time I nipped out, it was melting.

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Just a few more milkweed seeds left clinging to the mothership. They’ll dry off and float away, eventually...

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Tiny parsley-imitator weeds sport diamonds. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.

After this brief foray, I headed over to the hospital, where I give Reiki to patients receiving chemotherapy (Reiki = sure-fire way to improve Mondays). One tiny problem: workers on the roof were busy installing new equipment, which was sending propane fumes into the air vents. The pharmacists making up the chemo treatments had been forced out of their lab. We all stood around the nurses’ station, waiting to see if the problem could be fixed. I quickly realized that I would not be able to tolerate the fumes, so after checking in with the few patients present, I left and came home.

An unexpected consolation prize:

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I am helpless before these. Dozens of shots.

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I like the intersecting curves on this one.

And for this next one, I like the bit at the top that didn’t quite open up completely.

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This particular one is lighter in color, because it’s older. It’s from the very first set that opened this past summer – Remember Big Sis, Little Sis, and Baby?

Up in the woods, a particular puff ball aster is down to its last few seeds.

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The camera (via autofocus) and I (via manual focus) each tried to focus behind the delicate fluffies to the dark brown  seeds still anchored in the flower head.

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Neither of us could figure it out!

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But it was fun trying!

And then, later in the afternoon, this conversation showed up in Facebook. A college friend – a great musicologist – posted this:


To which I responded...


To which a mutual friend of ours responded...


Ah: that’s what I am doing here. I hope.

Friday, November 16, 2012

freedom through discipline. or something.

Discipline, discipline, discipline. That’s what it’s all about, baby. As stupid as it sounds, I have to be disciplined to do the things I love most. Even a paramecium knows how to avoid pain and seek pleasure – you’d think I wouldn’t have to train myself to do this. Discipline might also involve not yelling at myself for the fact that I have to be disciplined about these things...

Enough monkey mind! Show me the pictures! The first batch is before breakfast.

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Today it’s pine needles instead of grass.

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And...I’m going to go with hemlock.

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Hi sweetie!

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Also brown-eyed susan, but this one’s kinda falling apart.

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Um. Uh...Goldenrod? No. Aster? Hm.

Then it was work, work, work. I headed out again in the afternoon with the Mighty Lumix.


Queen Anne’s Lace.


Milkweed in the breeze. Good for the soul, no?



This can’t be good. This tree already has a bit of black knot fungus on it – now it has this unfortunate thing going on as well.

Ah, the Lumix. The Lumix has an LCD screen and no ... whatever you call the bit you actually look through...You can only reference the panel on the back as you take the shot. I had to remind myself how it works. Mostly it’s a matter of just framing the shot and trusting the autofocus to do good things.


These could be angels, but it’s also entirely possible that they are three rosehips, one still covered in white papery stuff, that the Mighty Lumix didn’t feel like focusing on.


There we go! They still could be angels, though, for all I know.

Then I got into it with the sensuous ironwood. I’d post some pictures, but your computer would catch fire. So hot.


Tall anemone, aka thimbleweed, is all crazy Einstein bed-head. To refresh your memory, here is what this looked like a few months ago:


September 27


June 24.

Isn’t this cool, getting to know a plant all the way through the year? Yes ma’am. It is.


Aster of some kind. That’s our brook. “Our”. We share it with plenty of other people, duh.

And now for the curly deliciousness of goldenrod leaves:



And so, to bed!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

your ordinary miracles will tend to hide in plain sight

We got a sudden drop in temperature – from the 60’s two days ago, to frost this morning. That’s fine. This IS Vermont, after all.

I snuck out for a few minutes before firing up the work laptop this morning.

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Grass is one of the few fellows happy to keep up with the photosynthesis.

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Not sure what this is. Could be cat’s ear, which looks like dandelion. So called cause it had snuggable fuzzy leaves. But I doubt it, for some reason. I expect my friend Arianna to weigh in on this in the comments.

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This milkweed pod should look familiar.

Here’s some wild rose:

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And now, for that which sustains me...

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The brown-eyed susans.

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Yes, those are ice crystals on the side in shade.

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Heaven, heaven, heaven, just waiting for someone to take notice.

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Farther afield, here’s a cluster of that sexy ironwood (Carpinus caroliana) I’ve seen up in the woods. This is along the shared driveway, hiding in plain sight, as most of your miracles tend to do.