(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

31 07 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


29 07 2008

I grew four of these annual vines again this year. This incredibly beautiful vine blooms mid-summer to fall. The Latin name is “Mina Lobata.” The common name is “Spanish flag” or “Firecracker vine.” I posted a photo of my first vine (grown from seed!) here. Today the vines were chock full of these tiny flags, waving in the breeze.

Learn more about this exotic vine here and at Taunton’s Fine Gardening site here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

The color of a sunset

29 07 2008

Introduction to daylilies:

Where to plant daylilies:

How to plant daylilies:

How to divide daylilies:

How to deadhead daylilies:

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

‘Mater Melvin

28 07 2008

I just picked these little jewels from the garden this afternoon. As I was carrying them inside, I thought…hmmm…two yellow ones…they look like big orbs…with eyes! And I have just enough new cherry tomatoes to form…a smile….oh, and what looks great with bright golden yellow and orange-red? Cornflower-french blue! Oh, and what about rosemary eyebrows?

While I realize the concept of playing with your food (and photographing it) isn’t a new concept, I felt (creatively) compelled to do it anyway. So…voila! I present to you—‘Mater Melvin. How can this colorful little concoction not make you smile? Step away from your desk and go grow something!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Lady Margaret

28 07 2008

I added another passionflower to the mix in my backyard garden this year—Passiflora ‘Lady Margaret.’ It hasn’t been as prolific a bloomer as my other plant, though (see photos of those blooms in previous Backyard blooms and In the garden again). And it’s a little more difficult to photograph because of the structure of the flower (upright and more skyscraper-like). The other passionflower can be easily photographed from the top and sides and still maintain good focus throughout. ‘Lady Margaret’ is a smaller and much more dainty flower, too. With about 500 species of these flowering plants, I have a ways to go in assembling my collection!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Today’s bountiful harvest

27 07 2008

Okay, so “bountiful” doesn’t really apply in this case. And I most certainly would lose weight if all I ate was what I grew. Nevertheless, my meager bounty certainly makes for a lovely still life, doesn’t it?

The beautiful yellow ‘Jubilee’ tomato is courtesy of my client and friend, Sophia, who generously gives me several exotic tomato plants (that she lovingly grows from seed!) each gardening season. This is the first large yellow tomato I’ve grown in our garden. There’s another almost-ripe one hanging on the vine—I can monitor its progress through the studio window. I’m the ultimate multi-tasker—I can design on the computer, run out and photograph something blooming in the garden, pet the cat, feed the fish, talk on the phone, and be on “tomato watch” all at the same time.

The only true tomato harvest we have ever had was when we first started the garden almost seven years ago. Michael planted four Roma tomato plants and by the end of the season, I had picked well over 500 tomatoes! Every few days I would run out in my pajamas (yes, I sometimes work in my pj’s if I’ve pulled an all-nighter working on rush projects—working in your pj’s is one of the perks of self-employment) and scoop up ripe tomatoes in my pockets. I picked so many I was giving them away to strangers in the neighborhood (In case you’re wondering, I did get dressed for the tomato deliveries!). At that time I wasn’t a tomato lover—that came later in life, but I love them now and would be a bit more hesitant to share (particularly since we reap much less than we sow these days). We haven’t had that kind of harvest anomaly since.

The green beans are Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans. I grow these every year (and harvest just enough to fill a bowl). I also love to grow the Yardlong Beans just because they’re so long! They can grow up to three feet long, although they’re best if they’re picked at 18 inches or less. Highly-prized in Asia, these pencil-thin beans are also known as long-podded cowpea, asaparagus bean, snake bean, or Chinese long bean. Sometimes, if there’s room (there never really is, but I manage to squeeze them in anyway), I’ll grow Tricolor Bush beans from Renee’s Garden seeds just because they’re colorful!

I may only pick a handful (or two) of each edible thing I grow, but it still makes me feel like a productive urban farmer. Of course, if I tallied up the cost of seeds, stakes, containers, potting mix, Miracle-Gro, and watering, I’ll probably end up with a result like William Alexander, the author of The $64 Tomato, did. Speaking of which, it’s a really great book; I highly recommend it…and check out his blog here. My beans are probably worth about $5.00 a string! And don’t even get me started on how much the cherry tomatoes are worth…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Drawn to the sun

22 07 2008

I must confess that the sunflower fields at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area were a bit overwhelming at first. It was so much to take in visually! After climbing a ladder we had brought (as did a dozen other photographers sharing the field with us) to get a sweeping overhead view, I lost my sense of direction (physically and photographically) for a moment (or two). Once I shot the overhead perspectives, I had to narrow down my field of view to concentrate on closeups of individual flowers. The sheer number of flowers and insects buzzing about made that a bit difficult! To give you an idea of the number of sunflowers in the main field (there are two separate areas), I’ll upload the panorama-like shot on a separate posting. These four below are some of my favorites culled from Saturday morning’s photo adventure.

The downside about this place (my personal opinion) is that it is a public hunting area, no permit required. Read more here in a Washington Post article about why the sunflowers are really grown.

I knew there was an association for virtually everything, but I just discovered there is one dedicated just to sunflowers—the National Sunflower Association, located in Bismarck, North Dakota. Sunflowers have become an important agricultural crop for U.S. producers.


Ah Sunflower

Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!

William Blake (1757-1827)

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Blooming in the garden today…

22 07 2008

Since I began gardening about six years ago, I’ve become smitten with coneflowers (Echinacea). So much so that last year I added several more colors to the front and backyard gardens. I have the standard purple coneflower, white (‘Jade’), orange (‘Orange Meadowbrite’), buttery yellow (‘Sunrise’), deep fall gold (‘Harvest Moon’), reddish orange (‘Sundown’), a doubledecker purple one called ‘Doppelganger,’ and my new favorite—Echinacea Summer Sky, a gold coneflower that graduates in an airbrushed fashion to red toward the cone! I love growing them because a) they’re perennials, b) they are quite photogenic, c) they love the sun, and d) bees and other insects love them, too, so there’s always a subject to photograph! I also have some in partial shade but their color doesn’t seem as deep as those growing in full sun. My purple and white coneflowers are all in bloom now. I’ll deadhead the spent blooms tomorrow since I just read that the blooms could repeat if deadheaded (now why didn’t I already know that?) These North American native perennials are drought tolerant, long blooming, and low maintenance. The name ‘Echinacea’ means spiny in Greek (echino) and references the flower’s pincushion center. The name “coneflower” comes from the way the petals sweep back and down, forming a cone. If I had the room in my garden(s), I would add all of these on this site. Hmmmm…I feel a purchase (or two or three) coming on!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Blue Chicory

21 07 2008

Blue Chicory
It has made its way, on wind
far into the city, and it nods there,
on street corners, in what July wind
it slips garner. Since childhood
I have loved it, it is so violet-blue,
its root, its marrow, so interred,
prepared to suffer, impossible to move.
Weed, wildflower, grown waist-high
where it is no one’s responsibility
to mow, its blue-white
center frankly open
as an eye, it flaunts
its tender, living lingerie,
the purple hairs of its interior.
Women are weeds and weeds are women
I once heard a woman say.
Bloom where you are planted, said my mother.

Catherine Rankovic (reprinted with permission)

Learn more about Catherine here: http://www.catherinerankovic.com/

I photographed this tiny pastel-blue flower against a grand backdrop of sunny yellow sunflowers at McKee-Besher Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, MD this past weekend. Here’s a map showing the location. Learn more about this wildflower’s history, growth habit and herbal use here.

Photograph © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

I will be the gladdest thing

21 07 2008

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Afternoon on a Hill”

I ventured out to Green Spring Gardens this morning at about 9:30. Even at that time, it was already getting too hot to stay out long, so I shot less than 50 images total (and that’s quite low for me). There were some really beautiful flowers in bloom this morning, particularly the thistle flowers, which were humming with bees.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Really, really clever!

20 07 2008

Katie, a frequent visitor to my blog, had this posted on her site. It is really clever! I haven’t learned how to embed videos onto my blog (yet), so I’m directing you to Katie’s site to view it. Click on the link below and then click on the video to begin playing:


Thanks for the frequent comments, Katie, and thanks for sharing this really fun video!

Worth standing in the July heat for…

20 07 2008

While the sunlight was just too intense to photograph the Lotus blooms at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. this morning, I had a great time (often in the shade, as you might imagine) observing and photographing the dragonflies near the visitor’s center. I got my best results using a 150 macro lens on my Nikon D300.

I just found a great online resource for identifying dragonflies. It’s the Digital Dragonflies Catalog, by Forrest L. Mitchell, and sponsored by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. If I go on the assumption my dragonfly is a Skimmer, then I would click on the photo opposite the “Libellulidae” box and find one that looks like it. (I haven’t found one that matches it yet). Any takers?

Another good online reference is Mangoverde Dragonflies.

Whatever kind of dragonfly it is, it was certainly a great model. Even when startled enough to fly away, it always came right back to this spot. I think I shot well over 100 views (let’s blame my photographic delirium on the heat, shall we?). His (her?) stripes were a beautiful metallic rust-red and shimmered in the sunlight. Every shot I got shows a different position (tail up, tail down, tail straight up, just landing, flying off, etc.). He pulled out every trick in his bag and I recorded every one of them! This is one of my favorites. And, as always, a special prize (honest!) to the first person to correctly identify (with supporting evidence, of course) this beautiful dragonfly!

UPDATE, JULY 24: While photographing the American Horticultural Society’s National Children & Youth Gardening Symposium on the University of Delaware’s campus this morning, I thumbed through a book on butterflies and dragonflies written by author Jane Kirkland, who was the dynamic and wildly entertaining keynote speaker at the opening session. The first page I flipped to had a photo of this exact dragonfly! Thanks to Jane’s book, I now know this is a “Halloween Pennant” dragonfly. This was an omen that I had to own the book, so I bought it and had Jane sign it for me! Jane created a field guide for teachers entitled, “No Student Left Indoors,” and she is also the creator and author of the award-winning nature discovery books— Take a Walk Books. You can read Jane’s blog here. Jane has also appeared on Animal Planet TV and PBS.

For more about the Halloween Pennant dragonfly, click here. Read photographer Bill Horn’s tips for photographing them on his Photo Migrations site.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.wordpress.com

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

20 07 2008

Bright and early this morning (too early), Michael and I headed out to photograph the sunflower fields at the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, MD, then headed over to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to photograph the Lotus blossoms. We first learned about the sunflower fields from my friend Nanda, who went to see it after reading about it in the Washington Post here. We’ve gone the past two years and have gotten there either before the blooms appeared or too late in the day when they’re spent and facing downward. This year, thanks to advice via e-mail from fellow blogger and local photographer Patty Hankins, we finally got to photograph the flowers at their peak! (Patty shot some really beautiful images; you’ll see them on her blog). I’ll be posting the sunflower photos later.

After an hour and a half of photographing sunflowers, we headed to Kenilworth in Washington, D.C. And once again, we arrived during the Annual Waterlily Festival and the Lotus Asian Cultural Festival (I thought it was next weekend). Since it was later in the morning than we had expected to get there, it wasn’t the optimum time for photographing Lotus blossoms because of the harsh sunlight. Despite that, photographing the myriad dragonflies ended up making it well worth the trip anyway!

To see the Lotus blossom images I shot at Kenilworth in 2006 and 2007, click here and here.

Here’s an article from the Washington Post about this “oasis in the city.” If you’ve got the room (and the pond!) to grow these beautiful flowers, read these growing tips from Doug Green. And take a look at Patty Hankins’ Lotus blossom photos and glean some great photography tips on her blog here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

wordle and how many of me

19 07 2008

Wordle is a really neat website that I found on Rik & Michelle’s blog. It takes text, a blog, an URL or RSS feed and creates a word cloud with the most frequently used words. With wordle you can customize your layout, color, font, or even let it generate at random. I had wordle generate some fun ones for me from this blog’s address—see the colorful and graphic selections below.

And here’s another neat site that Rik & Michelle found: www.howmanyofme. Pretty cool! I ran my name through it and discovered that there are 292,450 people in the U.S. named Cindy. There are 63,973 people with my last name, Dyer. And there are only 61 people in the U.S. named Cindy Dyer.

I ran Michael’s name through it and there are 4,022,709 Michael’s in the U.S. (it’s the 4th most popular first name!). Fewer than 335 people have his last name: Schwehr. And there are 4 or fewer with his entire name—Michael Schwehr. Oh, and just because I had a few more minutes to kill, I typed in…you guessed it…”John Doe.” There are (unbelievably) 300 people with that name. Try it for yourself!

I put Rik & Michelle’s blog on my blogroll some time ago because a) the postings are really fun to read, and b) they find the neatest links and share them with us. (Check it out when you get the chance). Thanks, Rik & Michelle! 

Junior high school revisited

18 07 2008

All this talk of the Donna (Texas) High School Class of ’78 reunion has made me wax nostalgic over the past few days. I wasn’t able to attend our 30th reunion at South Padre Island this past weekend. (Egads, my age is showing!) From the flurry of e-mails from those who attended, I’m so regretting that I missed it. I do hope we can arrange some mini-reunions and not wait until there’s a 40th! Any takers?

So I’m checking my e-mail a few days ago and I get one from a girl who was my very best friend in the 7th and 8th grade (junior high)—Sylvia Gomez. She also graduated with me from Donna High in 1978. She asked if I remembered her and a flood of memories hit me. I called her Wednesday night and we talked for an hour and a half. It’s amazing how much we remembered after all these years. I promised her I would find these photos I had kept all these years, so here they are, Sylvia!

These are photos that my (Dad? Mom?) took of us on the front porch of our vinyl-siding-clad white house with green shutters (109 North 10th Street, Donna, TX), just before we walked over to LeNoir Junior High School for our 8th grade graduation. (Was color film not invented at that time or what?). Our dresses were almost identical and made in the same fabric—lightweight cotton with raised flocked flowers in vertical stripes. I think Sylvia’s dress was light blue and mine was beige. Both had pink and yellow flowers as I recall. I’m pretty sure Sylvia’s mother’s magic sewing lady made these dresses for us. That woman was simply amazing! Mom would pick out patterns and fabric, draw on the front to indicate if she wanted shorter sleeves, longer hem, etc., and then Mom would pick up Mary (Sylvia’s Mom) and we would drive over to the magic sewing lady’s house (she didn’t speak English, and Mom could only say “Hola,” and “Gracias,” if that). Mary would translate for us. Less than a week later the magic sewing lady would have a pile of clothes ready for us for a ridiculously low price. I recall my younger sister’s frou-frou chiffon band banquet gown cost something like $10 or $12 to make. This woman could sew without a pattern, too. You could leave her your favorite blouse, a chunk of material, threads, buttons, etc., and she would duplicate it exactly. Now that is talent! And if memory doesn’t fail me, I recall her name was Trini.

Dig the hair parted in the middle. Shades of That 70s Show, huh? And we look so serious. What in the world would 8th graders have to be so serious about? (I’m thinking we resemble either the Stepford Children or maybe Children of the Corn—only without the blonde hair). You can take it to the bank that I’m thinking, “Heavy sigh. I made it through 8th grade math—it’s only going to get worse from here on out.” (And it did—thank you, Coach Gutierrez). I’m not sure what was on Sylvia’s mind. I think she was better at math. She wore glasses so she had to have been smart. The really smart kids always wore glasses. (Sylvia tells me she has graduated to big girl contacts since that time).

Billy Green must have been our shared best boy friend at the time because he appears in several photos taken that day—in a smart plaid overcoat—his Sunday best (or, at the very least, ready for a golf tournament).

Late-blooming Clematis & name that bug

18 07 2008

This unknown (at present, to me) Clematis flowers well after the Nelly Moser Clematis grand showcase of blooms. This morning I went out to photograph the shaft of sunlight on this flower and as I was focusing, this little beetle-like visitor came into view…unexpected, tiny, and barely over an 1/8 inch long! While the depth of field is not optimal on such a tiny element, I loved the graphic pink and green wedges framing him, so I’m sharing it anyway!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Last of the lilies to bloom

18 07 2008

I give you my magnificent Stargazer lily, blooming on the front porch this morning.

Until the early part of the last century, only wild lilies grew in parts of Europe, Asia, and America. They weren’t cultivated until the 1920’s when horticulturists began experimenting with the first hybrids. Oriental lilies began to appear in conservatories, and were wildly popular because they were easy to grow and offered such dramatic flowers. We have hybridizer Leslie Woodriff to thank for the stunningly beautiful Stargazer lilies. Learn more about Woodriff (with all his eccentricities) here.

The Stargazer is very fragrant, too, and does well in full sun to partial shade. Stargazers produce six to nine blooms, 6-8 inches in diameter. You can actually watch these lilies bloom in a time-lapse video here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Why I’d make a terrible papparazzi

17 07 2008

I just can’t do it. Even when I have all my pro equipment with me, I can’t bring myself to stalk someone famous when I spot them (and I’m apparently really good at spotting them…even when they’re wearing their “disguises.”) Now, if I’m hired to photograph an event where there are celebrities in attendance, that’s a whole ‘nother situation (see my recent assignment in May to cover a political roundtable at the National Press Club here and here.) But stealth photography? I’m as bad at that as I am at math (and that’s pretty bad, trust me on this). I worry too much about the possible rejection. If they reject or dismiss me, I’ll then have to boycott all their movies and tv shows as a show of defiance. I’ll have to go out of my way to hex their autobiographies at Borders. I just can’t go there. I’d rather just lurk, whisper, scheme, and sign up for Stealth Photography 101.

JOHN BRUCE — interior designer for TLC’s “While You Were Out”
Picture this…a hotel in Baltimore about 4-5 years ago…my photographer friend Ed and I are there to photograph a conference for the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a)…in the lobby I pass a slightly-built man, long hair, dark glasses (as always!), slumped on one of the oh-so-hip contemporary sofas. I glance at him, think to myself he looks mighty familiar, then glance away and see the “While You Were Out” truck parked outside of the hotel. I glance back at him. It’s interior designer John Bruce! He doesn’t notice me noticing him. He’s too comfortable, slumped in his incognito-ness. I have a full bag of cameras, lenses, flashes, etc. Everything an annoying papparazzi would need. Do I go over and introduce myself? No. (For one, I do not remember his name—this is what flashed in my head after I saw him, then the truck, then realized why he looked familiar: Dan-Jumbo, something orange (I later remember it’s Stephen Saint Onge), and envisioning how upset I would be if I ended up with designer Hildi Santo Tomas decorating my room, gluing 7,000 silk flowers all over my bathroom walls.) I just did a search on that episode and one commenter wrote, “I remember that flower-bathroom fiasco. I personally would’ve taken that staple gun and fired a few brads into Hildi’s forehead.”

Whew…okay, back to the famous incognito slouching guy…do I pull out my camera and fire off a quick one without permission? No. I simply whisper (excitedly) to Ed, “That’s a designer from “While You Were Out! See the truck there?” Ed does not know the show, so he is singularly unimpressed. Trust me, it was him.

And speaking of DAN-JUMBO…
Michael and I went to one of those National Home Shows in Chantilly a few years ago and saw Andrew Dan-Jumbo, the hunky carpenter on While You Were Out. I didn’t want to push through crowds just to see him, so I discovered a hole in the nearby exhibitor curtains that I could safely view him through! No camera on hand, not even a point-n-shoot. Trust me, it was him.

And still on the subject of home shows—
SUSIE COEHLO, designer/entertainer/tv personality

Michael and I met her at one of those same home shows and she autographed a copy of her recent decorating book I had brought with me. I think her appeal to me at the time was not so much that she was a decorating/entertaining expert, but more that she was once married to Sonny Bono many, many years ago. Why do I know this? I just do. Was I a Sonny Bono fan? Not so much. But it was still cool to meet her. Do I have proof? Yes, in the form of her signature in some book somewhere in my library. A photo? Nope, no point-n-shoot and no cell phone at the time. Trust me, it was her.

RICHARD CHAVIRA—”Carlos Solis” on Desperate Housewives
I have already prepared a rather long blog posting on this celebrity stalking incident. I spotted him (hidden behind dark glasses, of course) at the San Antonio Airport at the end of Easter weekend this year. It’s reasonable to assume it could be him because, a) he’s from San Antonio, and b) his father lives there. This upcoming post will detail how I called three different people (repeatedly), had one of them use imdb.com to discover his real name just in case I got bold enough to ask for an autograph, attempted to appear nonchalant, pretended to learn how to use my cell phone, coughed each time the shutter clicked, and almost missed the gate change for my flight! As soon as I can figure out how to get the photos off my new cell phone, I will report back to you. Trust me, it was him.

JIMMY FALLON—Saturday Night Live
When Michael and I were at Reagan National Airport last Monday waiting for our plane to board, a dark haired, 30ish, (wearing sunglasses, of course) man walked past me with a camera on one arm and a bag on the other…sauntered right by and the minute he passed me, I immediately thought, “Saturday Night Live!” I turned to Michael and asked, “who is that guy who does the SNL news with Tina Fey? He just walked by me!” Michael said, “Kevin Nealon.” No, not old SNL. New SNL. I jumped up and watched him walk down the corridor. I racked my brain trying to think of the name. He came back by and I reconfirmed it was him (there was never a doubt in my mind, though). He walked over to the food court and bought a drink. Two teenage boys stopped him, handed him something, and he started writing. They were smiling. Clearly it was him. Who stops a total stranger to ask for an autograph? What is his name what is his name SNL name Tina Fey name name. He headed back our way and I pointed him out to to Michael when he passed within four feet of us. Michael confirmed his identity. I whispered, “I wish I had my camera.” Michael replied, “You do. An expensive Nikon with lenses and flashes and CF cards. And a point-n-shoot in your purse. And your cell phone, too.” As we were walking down the ramp to the plane, I went through the names again. Kevin, Tina Fey, James, Jimmy. JIMMY FALLON! Trust me, it was him.

So, all I have to show for the above celebrity sightings are three “trust me, you had to have been theres,” an autographed decorating book, and a few photos of Carlos trapped in my cell phone.

I’ll dig up a so-so cell phone photo of me with Paul James, HGTV’s The Gardener Guy, one of my favorite fellas! And yes, he is exactly as you would imagine him. Personable, extremely funny, and very cute (and he put his arm around me in the photo, tee hee).

Years ago, I photographed political consultant James Carville when he was the featured speaker for a National Pest Control Association convention (don’t know the correlation there). These photos were taken when he was a) running Clinton’s campaign, b) had more hair, and c) before he was married to Mary Matalin. And yes, he is just as hyper in person as he appears on tv. I used a fast shutter speed. Want to see the photos? Please say no. I would have to dig really deep to find them.

Somewhere in my archives are a few slightly out-of-focus prints (shot in pre-digital times with a crappy disposable camera through a chain link fence), of John Denver waving at me from his Winnebago next to the Lincoln Monument at a Fourth of July concert in 1985 or 86. Trust me, it was him.

Oh, and do remind me to tell you about meeting Shirley McClaine, Dick Cavett, Leo Buscaglia (got a hug from him!), Erma Bombeck, Art Buchwald, Lana Turner (and her large Swedish bodyguard), Leroy Neiman, and Richard Simmons (a hug from him, too!)—and getting (almost all of) their autographs at a book buyer’s convention in Dallas a few decades ago. Do I have photos? No. You’ll have to trust me. It was them.

Cool and Green and Shady

17 07 2008

This shot of one of our pond plants (the center “poof ball” is a type of Dwarf Papyrus, as I recall) reminded me of a song from John Denver’s “Back Home Again” album. It’s called “Cool and Green and Shady.”

Saturdays, holidays, easy afternoon
Lazy days, summer days, nothing much to do
Rainy days are better days for hanging out inside
Rainy days and city ways make me want to hide
Someplace cool and green and shady

Find yourself a piece of grassy ground
Lay down, close your eyes
Find yourself and maybe lose yourself
While your free spirit flies

August skies, lullabies, promises to keep
Dandelions and twisting vines, clover at your feet
Memories of Aspen leaves, trembling on the wind
Honeybees and fantasies
Where to start again
Someplace cool and green and shady

Cool and green and shady
Cool and green and shady
Cool and green and shady
Cool and green and shady

Words and music by John Denver and Joe Henry


17 07 2008

This sneezeweed flower was blooming in my back yard garden this afternoon. This plant is also known as a Helenium, a member of the Aster family. And just as I suspected, there is a website devoted just to heleniums!

We first planted one when we began the back yard garden six years ago. That one plant grew to about 5 foot tall and by August would be in full bloom with gobs of these cheery yellow flowers. It returned for several years but stopped coming back a couple of years ago. I planted this one two months ago and am now being rewarded for my patience.

I just took a look at the “complete list” on the website above and am wishing I had acres to fill with the variety of Heleniums out there!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Man of mystery

17 07 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Just as I suspected….

16 07 2008

I always thought maybe Jasper did sneaky things when I wasn’t looking. This afternoon, he was obviously annoyed that I was trying to photograph him while he was trying to nap in the afternoon sun. I went to put in a new CF card, got ready to focus again, and here’s what he did. (The pattern in the foreground is a silhouette of metal flowers in a large vase…looks tropical, doesn’t it?)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Tomato harvest

16 07 2008

Tomatoes! Yet another distraction from trying to get back to work after being gone for nine days visiting my family in San Antonio. I was working at the computer and caught a glimpse of ripe cherry (and some kind of orangeish in color) tomatoes on the vine outside my studio window…the first harvest of the season. Fifteen smooth, little, intense red gems.

Now that I’ve sworn off chicken (in my meander toward vegetarianism), vegetables have become my dearest friends. I even tried cabbage this weekend. Yep. Cabbage. Me. Will wonders never cease? (Of course, it helped that Mom lightly sauteed it in a pan in olive oil with a dash of sugar to carmelize it). I even had a few bites of canned cranberry relish, and although it wasn’t unpleasant, I still can’t get past the fact that it still looks like a can when you serve it!. I’ve been completely beef-free for almost twenty years. Rarely ever ate pork. Now chicken-, pork-, and turkey-free for nearly a month. I’ve found I don’t have a craving for the chicken—it was more just a habit and convenience to choose it when eating out. While these decisions are also health-based, they’re coming far more from compassion than any other reason. It was time to go “cold turkey”—pun intended.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.wordpress.com

Annie Belle

16 07 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Pollen buffet

16 07 2008

Two bees (or maybe one bee and a flower fly, perhaps?) vying for pollen on one small sunflower. See the fella on the right? Look at how thick the pollen is on his body and legs!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


16 07 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

The color purple

16 07 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos

And the stately lilies stand…

7 07 2008
And the stately lilies stand
Fair in the silvery light,
Like saintly vestals, pale in prayer;
Their pure breath sanctifies the air,
As its fragrance fills the night

Julia C.R. Dorr, American author, 1825–1913

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


6 07 2008

I have no idea what kinds of lilies these are. All three just bloomed in the backyard garden. The two on the left bloom on stalks less than two feet tall. The very large one on the right blooms on stalks that are over four feet high. The blooms are huge and you can smell them from across the yard. Just heavenly! (Lily fanatics, feel free to chime in if you know the names of these three beauties).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

How to: Fireworks in D.C. without the crowds

6 07 2008

Always wanted to see the fireworks in D.C. but heard so much about the crowds that you avoid it at all costs? I have the solution! Buy a $50 assortment pack of fireworks at Costco, invite a few dear friends (neighbors will join you or peep through the windows when they hear all the commotion), head to a cul-de-sac in your community, and fire away! Photograph the fireworks, add a shot of the Washington Monument (from your own archives, of course), and superimpose the two in Photoshop. Presto! It’s a grand celebration on the 4th of July without the crush of passengers in the metro, vying for a coveted spot on the grounds, the unsightly trash left behind, and the mad rush to get home.