Rocky Mountain National Park

30 10 2008

We spent this past Sunday photographing wildlife and scenery in Rocky Mountain National Park. These are some of the best images I shot. We were astounded by the number of animals out in the open, seemingly unafraid, and easy to photograph….at least a couple hundred elk, two coyotes, several mule deer, many beautifully-colored Black-billed Magpies, and dozens of small, colorful Rainbow Trout at Sprague Lake. On the way out of the park, we stopped to photograph a herd of elk comprised of 52 females and 7 males. With my 80-400 Nikkor VR lens, I was able to get full frame shots of the elk. The weather was amazing, the light golden, and the photographic opportunities endless!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Giant Leaf Insect

30 10 2008

By far one of the coolest bugs at the Butterfly Pavilion—a Giant Leaf Insect (Phyllium giganteum).

Females can be brown or green and grow up to five inches long. I found a brown-colored leaf bug mimicking a leaf blowing in the wind on youtube.com here.

The one I photographed below did the same dance inside a wind-free terrarium. Isn’t it neat how the edges of its body replicate the decay in a real leaf?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Cairns Birdwing Butterfly

30 10 2008

I photographed this handsome male Cairns Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera euphorion), Australia’s largest native butterfly species, at the Butterfly Pavilion on Monday. Adults live 4-5 weeks and mating can last up to 36 hours (yowza!).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Getting my ducks in a row

29 10 2008

Okay, I know these are geese…but the expression isn’t “getting your geese in a row,” so I’m taking liberties here…simply because I can.

This weekend Michael and I were in Denver (actually, Englewood) for an awards ceremony held Saturday at The Inverness Hotel and Conference Center. I was nominated for a “Focus on People” award by my Hearing Loss Magazine editor, Barbara Kelley. There were five categories: Student, Adults, Advocate, Practitioner, and Pediatric Practitioner. I learned a little over two weeks ago that I was the grand prize winner in the Adult category. What an honor and a complete surprise!

Barbara interviewed me several months ago under the guise of writing an article about professionals with hearing loss. Little did I know she was actually filling out the nomination form for this award. I had received a package from Oticon earlier in the week and didn’t open it immediately since I thought it was just a copy of their already-in-place ad for the magazine we were ready to send to print. I felt the package, noted that it didn’t have a CD case in it, and assumed it was an ad insertion order. It sat on the coffee table for two days before Barbara suggested that I open it. That’s when the whirlwind began.

Before I knew it, we were booking reservations to attend the ceremony—airfare and accommodations courtesy of Oticon, the sponsor of the awards program. The Oticon representatives and staff were incredibly gracious, hospitable, and generous. I was a bit overwhelmed by the attention but happily soaking it in anyway.

Oticon was founded in 1904 in Denmark by Hans Demant, whose wife was hearing impaired. Oticon’s headquarters is in Denmark, with the U.S. headquarters in Somerset, New Jersey. Oticon produces many types of advanced digital hearing aids, some with artificial intelligence.

Friday night we attended a reception and dinner where I met Oticon’s PR person, Sara Coulter, who did a wonderful job of organizing the event and made us feel so welcome. The awards luncheon was Saturday at noon. We were each asked to give a brief acceptance speech, and although I am by nature not a shy person, I was incredibly nervous—embarassingly so. And, of course, I was first to give my acceptance speech (Murphy’s Law, you know). I had spent a couple of hours writing the speech the night before, rehearsing it to my audience of one (Michael), and having him time it over and over again so it didn’t turn into a recitation of War and Peace.

Despite all the rehearsal, I was a trembling bag of nerves at the podium. So when I mention I was a bit overwhelmed, that’s actually an understatement. Add the common fear of public speaking to the honor of the award in the first place, Barbara being so kind to nominate me, all the attention being showered, and being designated to go first—surely you have a recipe for potential disaster! I started out nervous and calmed down (if only a bit) as the clock ticked. I was followed by four very eloquent and moving speeches from my fellow award winners. I only wish I hadn’t been so nervous. Afterward, I thought of all the things I wish I had said. Isn’t that always the case? Do-over, do-over!

Each winner will receive $1,000 cash prize and Oticon will also donate $1,000 to the charity of our choice. All that and airfare, accommodations and wonderful meals! Without a doubt, this past weekend was an amazing one for my this-is-your-life book. I’ll post a photo shortly of all the award winners with the president of Oticon, Peer Lauritsen. Thank you, Barbara, for nominating me. And thank you, Oticon, for recognizing my work and honoring me with this award.

The photos below were shot just outside the hotel, near the golf course, after we had lunch in Baca, one of themed restaurants at The Inverness. Click here to view their video on how to make churros! The Inverness is a beautiful hotel with an excellent staff and it was such a treat to spend the weekend there. We rented a car late Saturday afternoon and spent the evening in downtown Denver, where we perused two of the three Tattered Cover Bookstores (Colfax Avenue and LoDo locations), and had dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. On Sunday we drove out to Rocky Mountain National Park, where we were giddy with excitement over the abundance of wildlife to photograph. We spent Monday morning stalking various Lepidoptera at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster before catching a flight back to D.C. in the evening.

Stay tuned for photos from our field trips!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.








One more for the Josie Fan Club…

22 10 2008

Elizabeth’s mother, Patricia, knitted this pink chenille blanket for baby Josie. Elizabeth said she sent the pattern book to her mother without telling her why. She figured it would be a hint that Patricia would be a grandmother in nine months. At the time, Rob’s sister was expecting, so Patricia thought Elizabeth wanted her to knit it for her baby!

I thought this was such a cute shot of her and figured it would be well received by the enthusiastic members of the ever-growing Josie Fan Club.

Hey Elizabeth…I checked…www.josiefanclub.com isn’t taken…hint, hint!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Sigh…the final harvest

22 10 2008

The temperatures are finally starting to feel more fall-like in Virginia. A few nights ago, we gathered up the three passion flower vines and brought them into the studio so they could continue their growing indoors through the winter. I cut the last of the catnip and made our cat, Jasper, a very happy boy this afternoon. And although there are still a few things in bloom, the garden is growing weary and fading fast. The only things blooming now are daisies, butterfly bushes, yellow mums, and balloon flowers in the front. And the only things blooming in the back yard garden are a red cardinal plant and one solitary Marguerite daisy. It’s nearing that sad, sad time when my garden goes dormant. I’ll put the garden to bed for the winter by next week.

When the evening weatherman reported impending frost a few nights ago, Michael ran out to pick the remaining (green) tomatoes (for his homemade tomato relish), as well as the rest of the green beans. With flashlight in hand, he picked what he could find easily in the dark, then I assisted by shining one of my studio modeling lights through the window. To add to the harvest, I found another dozen beans today on a vine hiding by the heat pump.

Without further delay, I present to you the final bean harvest—enough for dinner for two…and a beautiful poem by Irish poet and playwright Louis MacNeice (1907-1963), followed with a quote by one of my favorite writers, May Sarton.

The Sunlight on the Garden

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold;
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.

The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying

And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.

—Louis MacNeice

__________________________________________

In the garden the door is always open to the holy—growth, birth, death. Every flower holds the whole mystery in its short cycle, and in the garden we are never far away from death, the fertilizing, good creative death. May Sarton

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A very fine (birth)day, indeed!

20 10 2008

On Sunday my friend Karen treated me to a day-before-my-birthday lunch and a matinee showing of The Secret Life of Bees. Michael and I read the book, written by Sue Monk Kidd, when it came out in 2002 and loved it! I vowed that if no one ever made a movie based on this story, I would scrape together enough money to buy the rights and make it myself (pipe dream, I know). Thank goodness I never had to do that. The screenplay writer, director, and actors did a superb job bringing this story to life.

Then this afternoon Michael and I spent several hours at one of my favorite places to photograph, Green Spring Gardens. Although Michael and I had grand plans this morning to hit the road on a day trip, I’m glad we spent the time rambling around this local garden instead. There was so much still in bloom and so many bugs and butterflies to photograph. The afternoon light was amazingly golden, too. I was happy to see two new butterflies I hadn’t seen before (don’t worry, I’ll identify them later—unless someone wants to beat me to it—consider it my birthday present!).

I started preparing these images when I got home. The doorbell rang and I was the recipient of the most beautiful bouquet of flowers from Elizabeth and Rob, proud new parents of baby Josie. Thanks to you both for such a lovely birthday gift! And it was pure pleasure to photograph Josie. (And you know I’ll be photographing the bouquet you sent as well, so stay tuned.)

View the sweet photos of Josie in the links below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/daddys-very-little-girl/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/josephine-margaret-and-family/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/josie-au-naturel/

To top off my perfect day, I had dinner at Macaroni Grill with Michael, and dear friends Regina, Jeff, and Tom. I had the parmesan-crusted sole—it’s a new item on the menu and it was delicious!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.