The Garden Song

22 04 2012

Wish my flowers could sing like this! Listen to this sweet melodic song by my favorite troubadour, John Denver! I made this my garden club’s official song.





Revisited: Cool and green and shady

17 07 2011

Originally posted July 17, 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





Cool an’ green an’ shady

26 06 2011

Excerpted from Cool and Green and Shady, by John Denver

August skies, lullabies, promises to keep
Dandelions and twisting vines, clover at your feet
memories of aspen leaves trembling in the wind
honey bees and fantasies, where to start again
someplace cool an’ green an’ shady

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





The fruits of Friday

11 06 2010

Just enough to make a single-serving salad, I know—but they’re the first harvest of 2010 and that’s cause enough for celebration! I bought this particular plant at a local plant stand and have planted several more plants that a friend gave me. (Thanks, Sophia!) There’s fruit on other vines, but not ripe just yet. We’re trying out the “Topsy-Turvy Tomato” gizmo this year—I’ll keep you posted on the results. No, you’re not imagining that the plate isn’t completely round—it’s a free form set of appetizer plates from Crate & Barrel. And yes, in fact, I do sing the song below when I pick my tomatoes. Love me some John Denver! 

Home Grown Tomatoes
Words and music by Guy Clark. Recorded by John Denver and first released on his album, Higher Ground. 

There ain’t nothin in the world that I like better
Than bacon ‘n lettuce ‘n homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin, out in the garden
Get you a ripe one, don’t pick a hard ‘un
Plant ’em in the spring, eat ’em in the summer
All winter without ’em is a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin and the diggin
Every time I go out and pick me a big ‘un

Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love and home grown tomatoes

You can go out to eat an that’s for sure
But there’s nothin a homegrown tomato won’t cure
Put ’em in a salad, put ’em in a stew
You can make your own tomato juice
You can eat ’em with eggs, eat ’em with gravy
You can eat ’em with beans, pinto or navy
Put ’em on the side, put ’em in the middle
Home grown tomatoes on a hot cake griddle

Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love and home grown tomatoes

If I’s to change this life I lead
You could call me Johnny Tomato Seed
Cause I know what this country needs
Home grown tomatoes in every yard you see
When I die don’t bury me
In a box in a cold dark cemetary
Out in the garden would be much better
Cause I could be pushin up a home grown tomato

Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love and home grown tomatoes

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. 





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






I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky

25 05 2009

Excerpts from “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver (my lifelong crush!)

I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky
The shadows from the starlight are softer than a lullaby.
Rocky Mountain High…in Colorado
Rocky Mountain High.

He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below,
saw everything as far as you can see.
And they say that he got crazy once and that he
tried to touch the sun,
and he lost a friend, but kept the memory.
Now he walks in quiet solitude, the forest and the stream,
seeking grace in every step he takes,
his sight is turned inside himself, to try and
understand, the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake.

Photos of Lake Land ‘Or © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

FireInTheSky





Peek-a-boo

19 09 2008

What is it about cats and empty boxes? I spent the entire day cleaning my studio and every time I cleared a box of papers out, in jumped Jasper or ZenaB. Here’s a shot I got of Jasper in a black canvas storage box.

Speaking of spring cleaning…it is amazing (and somewhat shameful) what things I find when I go through boxes I’ve put aside “to file some rainy day.” Here are the more interesting items I’ve come across so far today:

— a bank envelope with $41.00 (prompting delight then dismay then delight again)
— an old letter from an old boyfriend (a valiant effort to console me, the “dump-ee”)
— 20-year-old letters from my Dad; one that mentions he and Mom were going fishing. This was a revelation. I never knew she was interested in fishing.
— three letters of acceptance for jobs I had when I was in my 20s…one where I was informed I would make $838 every two weeks. Wahoo! Ah, I recall the days of an unairconditioned apartment, ramen noodles, burned biscuits setting off the fire alarm in the building, staying up ’round the clock doing multiple freelance design jobs, and scurrying roaches (in the apartment, not on the menu)
— various birthday cards from acquaintances I’ve since forgotten how I knew them. Egads….the boxes are dusty and so is my brain, apparently.
— a National Enquirer clipping where Cassandra Delaney claims, “John Denver kicked me out of our bedroom for 8 months!” Yes, I’m a John Denver fan…why else would that be in the pile?
— a newspaper article from the Washington Post titled, “On the Road: From Mortgage Slave to Happy Vagabond.” P.S. I’m still a mortgage slave and not (yet) a happy vagabond.
— A copy of my friend Karen’s resumé before she started working at the place where I met her in 1986. Wonder why I have this?
— A 1994 letter from Sue Feld, then Editorial Administrator for American Photo, notifying me that I had two photos to be published in two categories in their 3rd annual contest for reader photos (I had two out of the total 146 images published from about 46,000+ images) Ah, that was a day of elation at the mailbox!
— the formula Karen gave me for growing perfect tomatoes. Yes, readers, I will share the magic formula shortly!
— glow-in-the-dark animal tracks decals from The Nature Company (doesn’t everyone need those?)
— a printed transcript from an AOL live forum conversation with John Denver, dated 8/2/1995. My question posed to him was: “Years ago, I read about your interest in photography. I also saw a photo of yours in American Photo magazine’s Celebrity Photographers Issue. With all the traveling you do, you must have a vast collection of photos. Have you ever thought of publishing a book of your nature photos and personal essays on the environment?” His reply was: “Oh, we thought about that and I’m not sure it’s going to happen as a book of photo nature essays, but I’m not really sure I ever want to do another book!” I suppose I could have asked him “why did you kick Cassandra out of the bedroom for 8 months?” but I doubt it would have passed the muster with the AOL forum host!
— my laminated ID, dated June 21, 1985, that I had to wear when I worked for the U.S. Customs Service as a Clerk-Typist (and made something like $12,000 a year as a Grade -4 (what it felt like). I moved up from the Rio Grande Valley, lived with my parents for a year, and Dad found me this job in the FOIA office (Freedom of Information Act) at Customs in D.C. I typed 100+ words a minute, so the job was easy. My co-workers were really nice, my boss was most certainly not (and in the end, I did get the chance to let her know what I thought of her—tactfully and truthfully, of course), and I was just biding my time until I could find a job in graphics (pre-computer days, mind you…see how that fact dates me?). I commuted with my Dad to work (which was actually quite fun), and I typed letters to prisoners (mostly), informing them their request was being handled, blah, blah, blah. When the papers were ready, I typed a “Dear Prisoner Man” letter telling him how much he (it was almost always a he) owed for the copies. The photo on the ID shows a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed (figuratively), unjaded twenty-something with a really good hairdo (which is unusual, trust me), and a hot pink blouse (did I dress in the dark?). Where did that girl go?
— my prom photo with my friend Ray…I didn’t go to prom when I was actually in high school. Ray was a year behind me and asked me to be his date after I had already graduated. I decided I was “too mature” to wear a long dress (the thing to do in those days), so I wore a knee-length, seafoam green, polyester dress (sounds ugly, but it was actually quite tasteful). My Farrah-Fawcett-wings completed the look! UPDATE: My prom dress was silky, and when I came across the prom photo, the word “Quiana” popped into my head. I did some reading and I was right—my dress was made of Quiana, a slinky nylon fabric popular in the 70’s. I was so cutting-edge with my fashion choices, wasn’t I? Raise your hand if you want to see my prom photo!
— a very lovely letter, dated July 12, 1995, from nature photographer Art Wolfe. He thanked me for writing (I praised a workshop I took with him in Cape May, NJ) and for sending him a package of my Polaroid transfer notecards. His letter ended with him off to Grandfather Mountain, Cuyahoga Valley, Canadian Rockies, Alaska, Paris, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, New York, and back to Kenya for a Smithsonian assignment. Sigh…do you need an assistant for low pay, Art?

See more photos of my pretty boy 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.