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 and 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. I found a brown-colored leaf bug mimicking a leaf blowing in the wind on 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.

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.


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!

21 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:

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.

Hmm. I don’t remember planting that.

18 10 2008

Honestly. Although I have been known to squeeze plants into every square inch of our gardens, I have no recollection of planting this one. I just noticed it blooming last Thursday. It looked familiar. It looks like the beautiful purple Ageratum, which I no longer even bother to grow. Why? It never thrives in any place I put it. It’s an annual. It looks terrible when it’s not in bloom. Yes, it’s beautiful on the nursery shelf. It’s a whole ‘nother thing when I add it to my garden. So each year when I’m out buying plants to fill all those imaginary holes in my garden, I put blinders on when I see that spectacular flash of purple-blue.

So I’m walking around the garden Thursday morning and see this familiar plant—the one I no longer purchase each year. Only this one is huge. Shrub-sized. It can’t be Ageratum. But it really looks a lot like Ageratum. When I was at Nalls Monday photographing baby Jonathan, I saw the same plant. The tag identified it as a Hardy Ageratum (Eupatorium Coelestinum). Hmmm. Didn’t know it even came in a non-annual, hardy version. Finally, an Ageratum that thrives despite neglect. I do not remember purchasing it. I do not remember planting it, either. Perhaps a garden fairy brought it here? A wayward Weedette from my Garden Club, looking for a caretaker for her overages? Anyway, here’s a photo of said plant—and yes, I am well aware that this photo won’t win any awards.

By the way, in my online research I learned that although this plant’s common name comes from its remarkable resemblance to the annual Ageratum, it is not related to it. Hardy Ageratum prefers moist soil, and although it likes shade for most of the day, it will tolerate some sun. (I question that fact since it is thriving in full sun all day long in my garden!). Forming a clump about three feet tall, it begins to bloom in September. A member of the Aster family, it is a magnet for butterflies. How fortunate is that for this butterfly-crazed photographer?

P.S. I also read that, after a few years, it can expand aggressively via underground runners. Rut roh.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Cascade of glories

17 10 2008

The ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glory vine in the backyard garden has finally come into its own. The air is getting cooler each day, so the heat isn’t keeping them down. Every day I see more blooms (on the inside of the fence). I finally decided to get out the stepladder this afternoon to photograph them up close and when I opened the back gate, I had no idea there would be this many blooms on the other side! Yes, you know I counted them—87 total, including two springing from a tendril that has taken hold of the Bradford pear. That’s just 87 today. There are so many unopened buds on this monster! I can’t imagine a garden without these beautiful blue blooms. Take a look at my first posting on morning glories last year here (that day I counted over 300 blooms; it was a real traffic-stopping sight) and some I photographed in August here.

Learn more about growing morning glories here and here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Much more Monarch mania

15 10 2008

Yes, more Monarchs. I can’t help myself. They’re everywhere! I learned a technique from my friend Mary Ellen of Happy Tonics about how to “stalk” Monarchs with a camera. Wait until they have their proboscis inserted into a flower and they become completely distracted by the task at hand—then move in closer, staying as still as possible. They won’t even notice you’re there. This one sure didn’t. I was able to shoot about 50+ images of this Monarch in less than five minutes.

Want to learn more about the senses of a Monarch? Click here.

Here’s a surefire way to attract Monarchs to your garden—plant milkweed!
Mary Ellen sells common milkweed seeds in her eBay store here. Milkweed is the sole food for the Monarch caterpillar. Adult butterflies can feed on other plants such as this butterfly bush, but the caterpillars only eat milkweed.

Mary Ellen and I crossed paths a few years ago when I purchased seeds from her through eBay. This led to a frequent e-mail exchange, and now I do volunteer design and photography for her organization. I design and produce her quarterly 4-page newsletter, Butterflies & Gardens, as well as other marketing materials. You can download the latest issue of the newsletter in pdf format here. I also designed a Monarch Butterfly Habitat Poster for her this past spring.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Check out my other blog,, where I write about gardening, traveling, photography, graphic design projects, family and friends, and more.

Wild Texas skies

14 10 2008

I shot this with my point-n-shoot Nikon Coolpix in July and just now discovered it on an SD card while I was archiving images this afternoon. We were driving around running errands in San Antonio and I shot this through the window. It looks like an alien hovercraft, doesn’t it?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Going, going, (almost) gone!

13 10 2008

It’s late in the gardening season, but the Monarchs are still out in full force, flitting from butterfly bush to butterfly bush. I just photographed this one in the front yard a few minutes ago as he worked his way around this cone of flowers, full circle, then flew away when neighborhood kids went (loudly) by and startled him. I’d like to trim back this bush and put the garden to bed for the coming winter, but as long as the Monarchs are around, I’ll have to postpone my pruning duties. I also saw an American Painted Lady.

Check out the Monarch butterfly poster I designed this past spring for Happy Tonics to use as an educational tool to show what native plants will be grown in the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary being developed in Shell Lake, Wisconsin.

You can learn more about Mary Ellen, Happy Tonics, and the Monarch Butterfly Habitat at In addition to utilizing photos from my own archives, other images were provided by Happy Tonics, Jeff Evans (, and Brian Loflin (

Learn more about Monarch butterflies at this site:

Want to see more of my butterfly images? Click on any of the links below:

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

“With Basil then I will begin, Whose scent is wondrous pleasing”

13 10 2008

…from Michael Drayton’s 1612 topographical poem, “Polyolbion,” describing England and Wales. Drayton was an Elizabethan poet and one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries.

Yesterday Karen and Gina and I made far more pesto than we really needed. My basil harvest was fairly skimpy this year (enough for about 4 cups total). Gina’s harvest was about the same. Enter Karen—that’s her in the first photo, arriving with a bountiful harvest of both Genovese and Purple Basil that she and I planted in late spring in her memorial garden honoring her mother.

In the second photo, you’ll see all the ingredients necessary for a “Pesto Preparation Party.” Ample basil, olive oil, pine nuts, cheese, garlic, a food processor, salt and pepper, and plastic containers for freezing. The soda and brownie bites are simply fuel for the cooks (but every bit as essential).

Gina and I have made pesto from our homegrown basil for the past two gardening seasons. This year Karen joined us (thankfully—otherwise, our final product would have been far more skimpy!). Having never made pesto, Karen was an eager and willing assistant. We told her our basic recipe, but after watching us “tweak” the recipe batch after batch, no doubt she is now confused on exactly how much of each ingredient we really used. Gina, as usual, served as the quality control inspector, sampling each batch on a bit of bread, then announcing, “needs more garlic,” “tastes too green and/or basil-y,” “add more salt,” and “cheese, must have more cheese!” Each batch was a little different from the previous one, so we ultimately just combined all the batches into one. Please don’t ask me for our final recipe. We have no idea what it is. We just make it from a basic recipe similar to the one here, then tweak to perfection as we go along.

We ended up with SIXTEEN containers of pesto. When Gina and I prepare pesto with our meager harvest, we max out at about seven containers. Muchas gracias to Karen and her contribution this year!

SIDEBAR: Every year Gina and I make pesto in preparation for the much-anticipated annual Pesto Fest that Michael and I host in our neighborhood. This year’s event was slated for Sept. 27, but had to be cancelled due to the constant rain we had that week, including the day of the event. We thought rescheduling for one of the next two weekends would put us into too-cool-to-have-it-outdoors scenario, but that was not the case. The past two weekends have been glorious. Sigh….take a look at last year’s festivities here. There’s always next year!

P.S. Gina and I made “Sage Pesto” the first year and strongly advise that you avoid it at all costs. Ewww.

Click here for the “How to Make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother” recipe.

Click here for a slew of pesto-based recipes.

Click here for more recipes, folklore, and growing tips.

Click here to learn more about growing, harvesting, and cooking with basil.

And finally, click here to read about basil in literature and art at the site for The Herb Society of America.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Pride of Barbados

13 10 2008

Pride of Barbados or Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)—This fast-growing, heat-loving tropical evergreen shrub is a staple in gardens around San Antonio. When Michael and I helped my Dad redo the front beds for Mom in July, we included one of these plants in the mix.

It blooms red/orange all summer long, has mimosa-like leaves, and grows up to 10 feet tall. Perfect for a drought-tolerant garden, it needs little water once established. (The all-yellow species is called “Phoenix Bird of Paradise,” Caesalpinnia gilliesii). It needs full sun for the best blooms, infrequent deep watering, and is hardy in zones 9-11 (and a returning perennial in zone 8). In cooler climates, it can be grown as an annual.

Native to the West Indies, this beautiful ornamental plant is naturalized in Texas. Also called “Peacock Flower,” “Flame Tree,” “Mexican Bird of Paradise,” and “Flamboyan-de-jardin,” it is the national flower of Barbados. Click here for background information and here for growing and propagation information. I photographed this plant in my sister’s neighbor’s yard.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

One more batch of pumpkins…

9 10 2008

Michael and I couldn’t resist…we headed back to Nall’s in the late afternoon yesterday to shoot some images without the harsh mid-day sunlight. I shot mostly abstract closeups of the unusual colored pumpkins and loads of various colored mums. We never knew there were this many different kinds of pumpkins in such an unusual array of colors….blue, brown, gray, purple-gray, verdigris green & blue, peach, forest green, green & orange, creamy white, charcoal gray, earthy browns. Amazing!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

A girl, a dog, and giant elephant ears

5 10 2008

My friend Gina must officially be the world’s best grower of elephant ears, bar none. Her front and back yard gardens have gone completely tropical with gargantuan elephant ear leaves! If we had the patience, time, and supplies at the ready, we would be churning out cement leaves right now.

Here she is with the newest addition to her family, Luc, a poodle she adopted a few weeks ago from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Luc joins his new almost-look-alike brother, Gumbo, a Schnoodle, who was adopted from the Washington Humane SocietyI would be happy to tell you more about Luc, but Gina appears to be screening calls today! Stay tuned for more about “Saving Luc.”

Back to the subject of elephant ear plants…click here to see the beautiful varieties available. Learn propagation tips and growing instructions here. Of course, you could also call the Elephant Ear Guru directly, but since she’s screening her phone calls today, she might be hard to reach.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

A plethora of pumpkins (gourds and squash, too)

5 10 2008

Yesterday, Michael and Regina and I went to Nalls Produce in Alexandria to see their huge assortment of pumpkins, gourds, and squash. We got there past the ideal shooting light and I shot most of these in the mid-day sun. Morning light would have been best, eliminating the hard shadows on some of the images, and intensifying the colors. I plan to go back to reshoot some of these for comparison later and will post the reshoot. All in all, I still like most of the images, despite the lighting. I especially want to get a good shot of BLUE pumpkins (which are actually a purple-grayish-blue)! 

On the subject of pumpkins, did you know that Antarctica is the only continent where pumpkins won’t grow? While researching the myriad varieties of pumpkins, I also learned that:

• The Irish brought the tradition of pumpkin carving to America. The tradition originally started with carving turnips. When the Irish immigrated to the U.S., they found pumpkins were plentiful and easier to carve.

• Pumpkins are 90 percent water and were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.

• The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds and the largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs, and took six hours to make. 

• The name pumpkin originated from “pepon”—the Greek word for “large melon.”

• Pumpkins are native to North America and have been domestically grown here for five thousand years.

Click here to see the extensive list of the variety of pumpkins that are grown.

For some really sophisticated and very imaginative patterns, check out Martha Stewart‘s site.

Check out Tom Nardone’s site for all things pumpkin (including “pumpkin pyrotechnics!)

Wouldn’t you just know it, there is an American Gourd Society! It is located in Kokomo, Indiana. Learn everything you could ever want to know about gourds on the Wayne’s Word site. This site is dedicated to the gourd family and reports that the total number of species may exceed 700!

Nalls also had a wide variety of squash, both ornamental and edible. Click here for a “squash glossary,” recipes, and decorating ideas. Click here for more recipes and learn the difference between summer and winter squash.

Regina and I were really smitten with the beautiful variation of colors on the Indian corn. Click here to learn why the kernel colors vary in Indian corn.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

At long last, butterflies en masse!

4 10 2008

The butterflies that we have waited for (en masse) all summer have finally begun appearing regularly, particularly Monarchs and now the American Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis) I photographed late this afternoon. It is very similar to the Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui). Those same links show you how to distinguish between the two. 

They move really quickly, so I wasn’t able to get many good shots before they moved onto other flowers in the garden. Most of the butterfly activity in our front yard garden is in the lilac-colored butterfly bush. I saw two American Painted Ladies and three Monarch butterflies just this afternoon, along with several Cabbage White butterflies and Silver-spotted Skippers—both daily visitors to the garden since early summer. This same butterfly bush is also a magnet for the Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth.

Click here to see a Cabbage White butterfly I photographed in the backyard in June. Click here to see Monarchs, Silver-spotted Skippers, Swallowtails, and other beauties I photographed at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. Learn more about how to create a habitat for Monarch butterflies on the Happy Tonics web site.

I found a really terrific butterfly identification site here. To identify your specimen, click the boxes that correspond with things such as the group (moth, butterfly, etc.), how the wings curve, whether they’re curvy, jagged, or wavy, then how the rear wing is shaped, whether there are broken bands or dark or light ones, main colors that appear, and your location. After you click on all the matches to your specimen, a list of possible “suspects” will show up on the left. Simply click on each one until you find one that best matches your specimen! I’ll be using this site a lot more often.

If you really love butterflies, check out the images I shot in September at the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens. And while we’re on the subject of Brookside Gardens, click here to see images I shot when my friend Jeff and I took a field trip with the Mount Vernon Garden Club this past April.

WANT TO SEE SOMETHING NEAT? Click here to view two claymation movies that illustrate butterfly metamorphosis. They were created by third grade students from Kings Park Elementary School in Springfield, Virginia.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Tiptoe through the Tipsoo

1 10 2008

After a wonderful night spent in their rustic 70+ year-old-cabin, Jim and Anne led us on a short one-mile hike through the wildflower meadows around the alpine Lake Tipsoo. At the crest of Chinook Pass, we were more than 5200 feet above sea level. With Mt. Rainier in the background, it was a cinch to get beautiful wildflower and landscape shots. The weather was perfect and the terrain relatively flat, so it made for easy walking. The area showcases an amazing array of wildflowers, such as Lupine (second row, left), Magenta Paintbrush, Larkspur, Ragwort (second row, right) Asters, Daisies, Stonecrop, Buttercups, Fireweed, Purple shooting stars, and many others.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

The road to Spokane

1 10 2008

On Saturday morning, September 13, after our hike through the wildflower meadows around Lake Tipsoo at the crest of Chinook Pass (with Mt. Rainier as an amazing backdrop), we hit the road to Spokane. We couldn’t believe how fast the terrain changed from mountainous to Arizona-desert-like! A few hours down the road, I spotted the teapot-shaped gas station and implored Michael to turn around, knowing how much Sue would probably get a kick out of (she is an all-things-tea guru and fanatic!). I also just had to get her in the requisite “I’m a little teapot” pose. Before the business closed in 2003, it was the oldest operating gas station in the U.S. Apparently diesel was just $1.79 a gallon during its last year in operation, as evidenced by the sign.

I searched online and discovered it is called the “Zillah Teapot Gas Station.” Located in Zillah, a town about 15 miles southeast of Yakima, the gas station was built in 1922 by Jack Ainsworth as a commentary on the Teapot Dome scandal involving President Warren G. Harding and a federal petroleum reserve in Wyoming. Learn more about its origins here and here.

I told Sue we should pool our resources to buy it and put it in her backyard in Huntsville. She could turn it into either a little tea shack or a potting shed—although at a purported cost of $250,000 to move, it would be one mighty pricey tool shed…not to mention what the homeowners association might have to say about it!

Concerned residents in Zillah formed a “Friends of the Teapot Association” to raise money to move and preserve the structure. Learn about the potential new use for the actual Teapot Dome Field here and here.

The drive to Spokane took us through a vast farming region where we saw lots of signs for apples, peaches, and other edibles for sale. The photo below the farm truck image was taken at a visitor center and rest stop along the way—quite a panoramic scene (this is just one section of it) for a rest stop. We got a kick out of sign posted at the entrance to the parking lot: “Beware of rattlesnakes and don’t feed the seagulls.” Sue’s Mom heeded the rattlesnake warning (we didn’t see any), and there were no seagulls present to sneak food to anyway. The “harvest moon” photograph at the bottom was shot from Barb and Dean’s second floor balcony later that night.

NEWSFLASH! Thanks to my fellow blogger Toni, a fused-glass artist/photographer who lives in the Tri-Cities area on the way to Spokane, I now know the lake behind the rest stop was Sprague Lake (covering 1,840 acres!) in Adams County, Washington. Thanks for the info, Toni.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


1 10 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.

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