(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

31 07 2008

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



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.     www.cindydyer.wordpress.com

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.   www.cindydyer.wordpress.com

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 postings 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 those every year (and harvest just enough to fill a bowl). I also love to grow Yardlong Beans just because they’re so long! They can grow up to 3 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.

Blue Chicory

25 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.      www.cindydyer.wordpress.com

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.

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. www.cindydyer.wordpress.com

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.

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 the 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.

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. They’re also known as Heleniums, a member of the Aster family. And just as I suspected, there is a website devoted just to heleniums! http://www.helenium.net/

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.     www.cindydyer.wordpress.com

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 sauted 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

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!

UPDATE: I recently received this comment below from a viewer. Thanks for the identification—I learn something new every day!

Nice photo. The one on the right is a female bee. The males don’t carry pollen on their back legs; in the world of bees the females do all the work. The one on the left is a flower fly, Eristalis; it is a male. You can tell because of its huge eyes.

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


16 07 2008

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

The color purple

16 07 2008

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

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.   www.cindydyer.wordpress.com

Crazy about lilies…

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.

The lure of blog stats

6 07 2008

In late June, www.cindydyer.wordpress.com, reached a milestone of 20,000 hits!

I embarked on this exciting journey in mid-August, 2007. That month finished with 237 hits. I have posted 242 entries, contained within 26 categories. To date, 297 visitors have generously left comments, and for that I am most grateful. I could never have imagined how exciting having an audience for my work would be, nor how many interesting people would cross my path. This journey has introduced me to some really talented photographers, artists, craftsmen, writers, and just plain interesting folks. I’ve corresponded with people throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, England…and some others I know I’m forgetting! I am constantly amazed by the honesty, passion, compassion, observations, and sheer talent out there. I come away so inspired when I frequent my favorite bloggers.

I have always made observations on a number of subjects; having a blog now means I can share that with like-minded readers and I have yet another creative outlet for my work and my thoughts. Friends now joke that everything they do with me could end up on a blog! And, to be honest, that’s not too far from the truth. I carry at least a small point-n-shoot with me at all times, so they know to be photo-ready when I’m nearby. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard statements such as: “Oh, no. You just know she’s going to blog about this, don’t you?” and “Watch out…you’re going to end up on her blog tonight!” While I’ve always thought I have a rather interesting life, having a blog to feed has compelled me to make it even more eventful.

The more I learned about the blog world, the more fascinating it became. Like most avid bloggers, I’ve been lured by the stats on my blog. They seem to be barometers of what viewers are looking for and tell me things like where they’ve come from, what keywords they used to find me, and even what links they’ve clicked from my site. With every photograph I shoot, I feel compelled to research the subject for my audience as well as to satisfy my own curiosity. I am constantly learning about a multitude of subjects and am so energized by this process. This newfound creative outlet urges me to keep observing…keep my eyes and (good) ears open…keep my camera on hand…participate in more adventures…research the names and origins of things.

From August 2007 (when I started blogging) to the end of that year, hits went from a low of 237-632 hits per month, then jumped to 1,241 in January 2008. It climbed sharply up to my 4,477 all-time high in May. My busiest day was Wednesday, April 30, 2008, with 346 hits. That was the day that I posted my photo session with Abbie Cranmer. (See “fourth place posting” below).

Just as I suspected, there are a lot of crafty gardeners out there who want to make concrete leaf castings. This recent posting on my concrete creations has attracted 911 visits since I posted it on May 29, coming into first place.

My top visited posting is Crafty room divider screen, with 734 views to date. Apparently there are a lot of people wanting to divide rooms out there and they don’t want something run-of-the-mill to accomplish that task. I even had a company that manufactures space and cubicle dividers comment on what a novel approach it was to dividers. Hey, mister! I want royalties if you copy it! I made this screen as a gift for Michael’s sister Nancy and never shared the photo (or the instructions) until I was hunting for interesting things to blog about. Who knew it would become such a hit?

The third place posting is the Color magic rose—with 686 views to date. I photographed this beauty at the gardens of Filoli in California last fall.

Coming in at fourth place was Spotlight on Abbie, with 504 views to date. I had the pleasure of photographing Abbie Cranmer for her feature article in the May/June 2008 Hearing Loss Magazine. Abbie has a lot of friends in blogland and cyberspace! Check out her blog, Chronicles of a Bionic Woman. You’ll enjoy it even if you don’t have a hearing loss. Her recent recap of losing her car keys and hunting for them at the local landfill is hilarious. Read about her misadventure here.

In fifth place, with 408 hits, is my entry about the Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth. Apparently there are lots of sightings around the country these days and people are curious about this elusive critter.

And they’re just as curious about this blogger. My About page has 382 hits to date, making it the 6th most visited post on my site.

And in seventh place with 260 hits, Abbie Cranmer comes back into the spotlight with a posting of the results of our photo session for the magazine, including glamour shots I did for her in my posting titled Bionic Woman = Cover Girl.

And I assume the reason my posting Gigglebean with parrot and sugar glider comes in at 8th place with 240 hits, is because people are enamored with sugar gliders and want to learn more about them. FYI: Gigglebean is my nickname for my niece, Lauren. It seemed appropriate to call her that when she was four years old (when she was all giggles); it seems a bit odd to call her that at 24 (how in the world did she get that old so fast?)

Moving into 9th place is my posting on Mina Lobata (Spanish flag) with 207 hits. This is such a beautiful annual vine and I’m growing two of them again this year. Right now I must have about 40 blooms on one of the plants!

In 10th place, with 168 hits, is my posting entitled, Just how many hats does one gal need, which chronicles my obsession with crocheting hats (and my inability to read a crochet pattern) during the winter.

And the last triple-digit viewed postings are…

…a recap of a trip to San Francisco with my friends Sue and Gina last August. Napa, Sonoma, and Bodega Bay highlights a road trip Sue and I took to the wine country and the California coast (with 161 hits);

…a little green bug I photographed on an oak leaf hydrangea flower at River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia—headquarters for the American Horticultural Society (with 151 hits);

Then on to craft project #823—an easy to make garden art project using tiny terracotta pots, colorful acrylic paint, rusty wire, and shiny jewels (coming in at 133 hits);

Hungry baby Robins—a posting about a nest of baby Robins in the crabapple tree outside our kitchen windows (coming in at 125 hits); and finally…

My lushest garden ever—(coming in at 104 hits)—where I showcase one of our best gardening seasons ever, in both the front and backyard gardens of our townhouse.

I’m so fascinated about the search engine terms—the terms people used to find my blog. Take a gander at some of the more unusual search words readers typed in below. These subsequently lead them to my blog (some in an obviously round-about way). FYI: The typos are not mine. I just call ’em as I see ’em!

eastern tent caterpillar grows into butt (see a doctor about this..and quick!)
Does hummingbir have the legs?
(if not, those would be some hard belly landings)
pretty all different color tall pictures
(tall pictures?)
little green bug with exclamtion point o
(simple and to the point!)
nymph blog
feeder rat poem
(feeder rats—now that’s fodder for poetry!)
sierra black booty
(I can only imagine)
just how many hats, cindy dyer
(more than one person can wear)
the cindy flower
(awww, you shouldn’t have)
tissues in crochet hats
(egads, please don’t)
misuse of thankfully
(leads them to a blog posting by my father, which he is happy about)
knees together girl
(this made me laugh out loud)
cindy dyer free dog
bodega bay goat rock sea gulls star fish
(just throw every word out there and see what you get!)
spainis wormman
(say what?)
long pet fish
(yes, I happen to have one of those)
hetch hetchy aqueduct
(yes, I’ve actually blogged about it)
spider party designs (a party for spiders? WWMD—what would Martha do?)
crocheted book worms
(now that’s something I haven’t tried making!)

And a special thank you to the repeat referrers who have put me on their blogroll and frequently send guests my way:


Birds of a feather…

6 07 2008

This afternoon, after lunch at Austin Grill, Regina, Jeff, Michael, and Nancy (Michael’s sister) and I went to check out the Hidden Pond Nature Center just down the road from the restaurant. Jeff had noticed the sign for it some time ago and wanted to check it out. Hidden Pond encompasses 25 acres, and is a little gem of a place with a peaceful duckweed covered pond and lots of turtles, dragonflies, frogs, snakes, rabbits, and birds. We saw every one of these critters during our visit. Regina discovered the snake (I walked right past it and it was less than two feet away from me!) and a giant bullfrog. We spent at least 45 minutes in the visitor’s center, watching various birds land on the bird feeders just outside the 2-story building. The nature center staff members were very helpful and even offered me a chair and opened the window near the feeders so I could have an unobstructed view while shooting. They said visitors rarely stay as long as we did to watch the birds, so they were quite helpful. I was able to get some nice shots of a variety of birds. It is so close by that we’ve vowed to go back again soon. Below: Mourning dove, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, female Cardinal, Northern House Wren, female House Finch (thanks, Regina!), male Cardinal, American Goldfinch, and a White-breasted Nuthatch. (If you are an avid birder and I have identified any of these incorrectly, please enlighten me!).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Snake doctors

4 07 2008

My Dad posted this comment on dragonflies and since viewers don’t always read the comments, I thought I’d share his in a posting:

I hope y’all are ready for this — when I was a little feller in rural Alabama (eons ago), we didn’t call them dragonflies — they were “snake doctors.” In my part of the state (west central), little boys were always barefoot (except in the dead of winter). We moved very carefully when we saw a snake doctor, believing that somewhere near, an ailing snake lay in wait for the doctor, but willing to bite anything else that moved). I don’t recall anyone saying in what manner the insects administered to such sickly serpents. We didn’t question such facts back then — we just accepted them (come to think of it, I haven’t changed that much).

I have completely exhausted my store of superlatives for your photos so I’ll just say, “Keep ‘em coming.” And as always (in the interest of full disclosure), I must stress that although I am your father, my opinions are based on the product and not on family ties.

A bit of Alabama etymology: Y’all — the plural for y’all (you all) is “you’ins” (accent on the first syllable), sometimes pronounced “y’erns” (pronounced with only one syllable).

While we’re on the subject of dragonflies…

1 07 2008

I photographed these two Blue Dasher dragonflies at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia. These were both photographed in natural light without fill flash. You’ll get your best shots (of almost any subject, but insects in particular) on an overcast day.

Check out Eric Isley’s article, Dragonfly Photography 101, for great tips on capturing these beautiful insects, as well as David Westover’s (very detailed!) article on How to Photograph Dragonflies with Flash.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

See more of my photographs from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden below:



I’ll give you a daisy a day, dear…

1 07 2008

Every time I see a daisy in bloom, the song “Daisy a Day” comes to me. I’ll sing it for friends but not many of them have heard it or remember it (but my sister Debbie does!). It’s so catchy and bittersweet—it stays in my head for days afterward. I first heard it when I was 13 and because I have a (completely useless) knack for remembering a vast number of song lyrics, I can sing it by heart to this day.

Jud Strunk, a popular folk singer, songwriter, and comedian, recorded this song in 1973. Although he recorded three humorous songs that also made it into the country music charts, this song was his most popular, and was one of the recordings chosen to accompany the Apollo astronauts on their missions to the moon. The song made the Top 15 in pop charts and the Top 40 on the country charts. Making his way to California, he appeared on Bewitched, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Hee Haw and the Merv Griffin Show.

Strunk made his family home in Farmington, Maine. He ran for the Maine State Senate in 1970 and lost by only one vote. Strunk was a private pilot and suffered a heart attack while taking off in his 1941 Fairchild M62-A in October 1981, eight years after he recorded “Daisy a Day.” He was just 45 years old and left behind a wife and three sons.

In honor of the late Jud Strunk, I’m introducing you to this lovely tune. Listen to Strunk sing his song on the Johnny Carson Show. And here’s a nice presentation with photos by Ned Nickerson on the blog, www.giveyouadaisyaday.blogspot.com. Learn more about his life and career on www.judstrunk.com.

I’ll give you a daisy a day, dear.
I’ll give you a daisy a day.
I’ll love you until the rivers run still
And the four winds we know blow away

FYI: The waterdrops were Mother Nature-placed and not from my water hose! 🙂