Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nature Notes: Spooky


I've been saving this one for Halloween week, because spiders kind of creep me out. These webs, spotted on a recent walk through Ludington State Park in Michigan, were completely invisible unless viewed from exactly the right angle. I had never known multiples of these to occur together and felt very lucky to have seen them. I didn't see the little artists who made them, though, so I can't tell you what sort of spiders they were.

I think the black, spiky seed pods of velvet leaf have a spidery, spooky look too. It's considered a noxious weed and is not native. But I like to let one or two grow in the pasture to provide pods and branches for Halloween decorations. This year's crop popped up next to the compost pile and reached a full six feet in height. My buffet currently hosts an entire skeletal plant, with candles and witchy-looking things mixed in. I'll have to shake all the seeds out before returning it to the yard, because it really does need to be controlled.



For more Nature Notes, visit Michelle and her guests at Rambling Woods. And then stop by at I Heart Macro, at Shine the Divine.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Nature Notes: Swan Song

Swan Songs

That time of year thou mayst in me behold 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang 
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day 
As after sunset fadeth in the west; 
Which by and by black night doth take away, 
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. 
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire, 
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, 
As the deathbed whereon it must expire, 
Consumed with that which it was nourished by. 
 This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, 
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

- Sonnet 73, Shakespeare

Hey, it's fall. I get moody. And I love that last bit, "This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong: To love that well which thou must leave ere long."  Ain't it the truth? Ain't it the truth?

For more Nature Notes, visit Michelle and her guests at Rambling Woods.

Friday, October 18, 2013

What Will You Do With Your Time?

Found this on SingularityHub.com and thought it was worth sharing. As a new retiree, I am having a bit of a struggle with the question.

On the one hand, the days are never long enough to do all the things I want to get done. On the other hand, are the things I want to do really the things I should want to be doing?

 I'm having a lot of what I consider fun: Reading, puttering around the house (which is looking and functioning better than ever, by the way), cooking and baking new recipes, canning and freezing produce from the garden, playing with my camera, reading, reading, reading, watching TV ...  Starting today, I intend to learn to draw, using a book on the subject that has been waiting on my shelf for two decades (Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain). With hands that can no longer handle wheel-thrown clay, I am toying with the idea of taking up hand-built pottery and building a Raku kiln in the back yard.

My family seems to think I need to be volunteering, taking classes, and that any artistic efforts should be goal oriented. They prod me to join things, sign up, enter shows and competitions.

When I was younger, I spent nearly all my free time as a volunteer for one thing or another, usually in an all-consuming  leadership/organizer position. I feel I've paid my dues on that front. I'm happy learning new things from books and videos, at my own pace and in my own time. And I was apparently born without a competition gene.

Still, it is uncomfortable when they ask, "Are you working on any projects? Joined any clubs? What are you doing with yourself? You should get together with So-and-So, I'm sure they'd hook you up with their group".

I thought I had left performance reviews behind. But it seems I am currently Not Meeting Expectations.

Should I care?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nature Notes: A Touch of Mink



On a recent weekend visit to the lighthouse in Ludington Michigan, we spotted this little fellow hunting among the rocks.  He (she?) is a mink, which are mostly nocturnal and secretive. Mink are fierce predators and feed only on other animals - fish, frogs, birds, etc. I suspect its fearless foraging was related to the many fishermen around the pier, who may provide it with an occasional tidbit. See the white chin? They all have that. Cute, no?

It's always fun for me to see new animals and birds when we travel, and it's amazing how much things change just a short distance to the north. As usual, I didn't have the best lens for the job attached to the camera, and it was a very gray day. But it's my first mink sighting, so I'm showing it off anyway.

Here's the lighthouse, too, and another resident of the area, who seems to be trying to blend in.

North Breakwater Lighthouse 2

Blending In

For more Nature Notes, visit Michelle and her guests at Rambling Woods.