Re-post: Cool and Green and Shady

15 07 2009

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






Stinging scoundrels

12 07 2009

Earlier this week I ventured out, camera in hand, with some trepidation—just to see if I could get a clandestine photo of the bat rastards (actually, just one stung me) that chased me into the house last week. I’m fairly confident they’re Eastern yellowjackets. I didn’t want to get too close to the nest (for fear they recognize my behind), so this is more “record shot” than art! (Oh, the things I do to entertain my visitors!)

Yes, I know they need to be removed from the garden if I’m ever to be able to work out there again. I can’t do it myself (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is I don’t like killing anything—even if it did sting me), so Michael is taking up the task. Read the details of my attack in my posting here.

Here’s something alarming I read on Wikipedia:

Yellowjackets are social hunters living in colonies containing workers, queens, and males. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens occur in protected places as hollow logs, in stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities, and human-made structures. Queens emerge during the warm days of late spring or early summer, select a nest site, and build a small paper nest in which eggs are laid. After eggs hatch from the 30 to 50 brood cells, the queen feeds the young larvae for about 18 to 20 days. Larvae pupate, emerging later as small, infertile females called workers. By mid-summer, the first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for food, care of the queen and larvae, and colony defense.

(Here’s the really alarming part below)

From this time until her death in the autumn, the queen remains inside the nest laying eggs. The colony then expands rapidly reaching a maximum size of 4,000 and 5,000 workers and a nest of 10,000 and 15,000 cells in late summer. At peak size, reproductive cells are built with new males and queens produced. Adult reproductives remain in the nest fed by the workers. New queens build up fat reserves to overwinter. Adult reproductives leave the parent colony to mate. After mating, males quickly die while fertilized queens seek protected places to overwinter. Parent colony workers dwindle, usually leaving the nest and die, as does the foundress queen. Abandoned nests rapidly decompose and disintegrate during the winter but can persist as long as they are kept dry but are rarely used again.

Now I highly doubt that 4,000 workers could possibly fit in this small decorative birdhouse, but then again I was surprised that even the eight that I did see could fit. I’ve managed to water the garden in spurts over the past few days, but always with a wary eye to the left side of the garden. So far, no more keister bites! Flashback: the only other time I was stung by something was when I was about eight years old. My younger sister and I were playing house in the front yard. We were hanging sheets over the bushes outside our bedroom window, pretending to do laundry I suppose (we had strange ideas about what was considered fun when were kids, didn’t we?). I unknowingly tossed my sheet over a yellowjacket nest. Yes, yellowjackets. Déjá vu.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.   http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

BatRastards





Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity

11 07 2009

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, discusses the creative process and how to nurture it. For more inspirational talks, head over to TED.





I know what you can get me for my next birthday…

10 07 2009

TreeBedYes, I am fully aware that $15,000 is pretty pricey for a bed frame, but if just 15,000 of my currently 82,733 blog visitors chipped in just $1 each, I could sleep in this bed every night! Imagine that. (I didn’t account for tax and shipping charges, though—this thing must weigh quite a bit. Does anyone have a large truck?)

Of course, it might bring on recurring nightmares about the snake-and-doomed-robin-chick episode of last week that I posted here. The scene atop the bed looks eerily familiar. You see, I have this visual penchant for trees, leaves, nests, feathers, birds and eggs. Oh, and sleep. That’s a good thing, too. So, this present would combine four of those faves of mine in one simple gift. And you don’t even have to wrap it! Oh, and I’ll provide the linens, so no need to fret about including those.

Then again, $15,000 would buy at least three of the pricier prime Nikon lenses that I don’t already have but certainly still lust after. (Which ones, you ask? Oh, say the 600mm f/4D IF-ED II, the 200-400mm VR f/4 AF-S, and maybe the 200mm Micro f/4D IF-ED, in case you were curious or just taking notes.)

Tree bed, Nikon lenses. Tree bed, Nikon lenses. Hmmmm. What do you think? Talk amongst yourselves. I’m sure I’ll love whatever you get me.

Take a look at artist Shawn Lovell’s other metal creations on her website here. Beautiful work!





DIY overcast sky

10 07 2009

As promised, I have new photos for you!

Picture this: Today. Green Spring Gardens. High noon. Not the best time to photograph flowers, but ventured out anyway. And I brought my own overcast sky. I carried my trusty Interfit 5 in 1 collapsible reflector (translucent portion only) to block the mid-day sun and get more saturated color. Amazon sells the 32-inch version for just $38.99. And, of course, you can use it as a regular reflector once you zip on the double-sided covers that utilize four other colors—gold, silver, opaque white and black. I just noticed that there is an even larger one (43″) for just $29.95, made by Opteka. These handy little contraptions fold down to an easy-to-carry size, so I would recommend buying the larger one for almost ten bucks less. You can find that one here on Amazon. If you don’t already have one—run and get one! They are invaluable in and out of the studio and for virtually every subject, from portraits to plants to products. I especially like the 5-in-1 products. Just don’t lose the zip-on cover (I speak from experience)! And you’ll most likely need to use your tripod to use it. I set the camera up, focus on my subject, then hold the reflector over my head with my left hand to block the sun (doubles as protection from the sun on you, too!). This leaves my right hand free to focus and shoot. Yes, you’ll look silly, but you’ll also look like a pro and intimidate people passing by. You can purchase an arm-and-stand holder for these reflectors, but that means more equipment to carry—who needs that? If you can convince your significant other or a friend to hold the reflector in exchange for a free lunch, good on ya (again, I speak from experience)!

Today’s photo challenge: Can you spot the little bug playing peek-a-boo in “Kilroy was here” fashion in the Cleome flower—the first image? I didn’t notice him at the time I was shooting this image. He popped out at me when I opened the image in Photoshop. Here’s a clue: he has black and white striped antennae with an orange-ish colored head.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Check out my garden gallery here: http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

GreenSprings7102009





Re-post: On color…

10 07 2009

I promise I’ll have some new works posted by this weekend. Perhaps some new images of lotus blossoms from Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens? Or maybe something from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden? I’ve been going through my oldest archives and have found this collage I posted two years ago that makes me really, really happy when I view it. I also love the quote. Hope you don’t mind the reruns!

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.” — Georgia O’Keefe, American Painter, 1887-1986

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

punchocolor.jpg

Check out my garden-photos-only portfolio at:

http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135





Blooming in the garden today

10 07 2009

My Star Gazer Lily
blooms
with colossal flowers of pink fire.
Its stamens lick the air
with pollen-covered tongues
of orange flames.
The trinity of blossoms lean heavy,
would topple and only ogle earth
with bright freckled eyes
if I had not propped them
against a colorful pot.
Heady fragrance fills the room,
demands attention.
A lower petal rests like a benediction
on the porcelain head
of an angel poised with a silent harp,
as if flower shakti could bring
the angel to life.
No shy, tiny violet
this plant blares its presence
in a trumpet of color,
declares its allegiance
to life with the vibrancy
of a Flamenco dancer,
castanets clacking,
red dress whirling,
feet stamping.
Its verve stirs me with purpose,
calls me to action
with the torch of love blazing,
a conflagration of pasión.

© 2006 Sher Lianne Christian

This beautiful poem was reprinted with permission by Sher Lianne Christian. Find more of Sher’s poetry and creative essays on her blog, www.lusciouspoetry.typepad.com/. Sher hosts the Third Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic at Coffee Catz in Sebastopol, CA, accompanied by her husband John on accordian and keyboard. She is the author of Star Kissed Shadows, Divining Poetry, available for purchase on her website. Click here to learn more about Sher, John, and their spoken-word CD, Sweet Tongue, Assorted Poems & Music, released in 2007.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. See another Stargazer lily I posted in July last year here.

Check out my garden-photos-only portfolio at:

http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

StargazerLilyCloseup