28 January 2012

loraine's birds

my old friend and neighbor, loraine, moved away many years ago. i'm not sure what she fed them when she lived here but she always had the best birds at her feeders. when she left, i expected her birds would just migrate on over to my house. i eventually got her chickadees, her finches, and her titmice. but what i really wanted was her cardinals. and that was not to be. over the years, i would hear one in the woods, i could glimpse one in the treetops, i would see one streaking red in flight. but none ever came to feed. none ever came close enough to the house to photograph. until this week, that is! loraine, i think i finally have all your birds!
even a female!

27 January 2012

ice twice

for the second time in the same week, freezing rain. it can be treacherous to walk on and nerve-wracking to drive in, but there's no denying it's beautiful...

on a lilac bud, poised and waiting for spring,

in frozen drips running the length of the clothesline,

when bending birch trees right down to the ground,

 even coating the antenna atop my car!

26 January 2012

the ones that g̶o̶t̶ flew away

because the winter's been so mild and snowless, i've been lax about feeding the birds. i'm paying for it now, in chickadees and titmice and little else. don't misunderstand, i love those tiny birds but also revel in the variety that normally comes to the feeder in winter. so imagine my delight this morning to see robins at the holly, four birds that fled before i could fetch my camera. the same thing happened this afternoon with the woodpecker who flew from the suet block when he saw my telephoto lens. and the female cardinal, a rarity around here, who was ground feeding in the garden as i passed by the window. out came my camera and away she flew. this jay is the only fine feathered friend who sat still long enough to be snapped. perhaps i just caught him resting up for the impending storm.

23 January 2012

winter glory

morning glory vines, encased in a sheath of ice from this afternoon's freezing rain. sights like this one make me happy i decided not to be so meticulous with garden clean up last fall. i was hoping for some winter interest - and here it is. 

19 January 2012

waxing & waning

as a kid a long, long time ago, i remember a fascination with the moon. how did it change shape. why was it not consistently orange or yellow, large or small. and how could it follow us at night on rides home from my grandparents.

the fascination continues still. on full moon nights, i stand in the window, mesmerized, reluctant to give up the luminosity and go to bed. i check the moon phases on calendars and in almanacs. i sometimes watch and wait for moonrise.

but with all this attention to the moon, i still get confused with the terminology. i know that gibbous is the opposite phase of crescent - but when is the moon waning? when is it waxing? this part i just can't seem to keep straight, no matter how hard i try. but recently i found this little rhyme written by blogger susan branch:
when the moon is a sliver...
horns to the east, soon to be increased
horns to the west, soon to rest
so using this saying as a guide, i'm going to start paying more attention to the names of the phases the moon goes through each month. i really want to understand and get it right. now all i have to do is remember which way is east and which way's west. 

18 January 2012

ultimate cookies

on the heels of the great gingerbread triumph, i have been trying to duplicate a colleague's toll house cookie recipe. it's on the bag of chocolate chips, she tells me, the generic kind not the nestlĂ© ones. the recipes are practically identical; i tried them once over the holidays. but tonight i adjust the ratio of white sugar to brown, i plop down bigger scoops than i normally do, and i use parchment paper on the cookie sheet, something the girl has taught me to do. and i think it worked! now, what to do with all these perfect cookies...

17 January 2012

coffee break

sad to say, i'm pretty compulsive about a lot of things, and coffee preparation is one of them. pictured here is the cup i always use at work. after i pour my coffee, i add creamers, one by one, tapping the bottoms to get the last drips of cream from each. when the first one is empty, i stuff its foil top back into the tiny container, put it down, then start on the second creamer. i do this four times, packing each fluted container into the previous empty one, making a stack, as shown. next comes two yellow packages of sweetener, with the empty sleeves crumpled, then packed into the topmost creamer of the stack. a swish with a spoon and i am done. the lid snaps on just so, with the sip hole lined up at a ninety degree angle to the cup's handle.

now if people would only make available a pint container of cream for my coffee, i wouldn't have to go through this compulsive ritual. well, the plastic part of it, anyway.

15 January 2012


looking out over the river, up to the north, and beyond to the snow covered mountains on the horizon. this is where i live.

14 January 2012

winter flowers

mid-january and we've finally had our first appreciable snowstorm. it's finally freezing. it's finally time to buy myself some flowers to ward off the winter woes. this weekend i bought stock. if ever i could blog a smell, this would be the one. it's pungent, spicy, smells a bit like cloves. heavenly. all day long, as i walk around in layers and fleece for the first time this winter, i wander by the stock, stick my nose in it, and inhale deeply. smells like winter!

08 January 2012

07 January 2012

just a dusting

it snowed yesterday, but not real winter snow. here we are in january, with virtually nothing on the ground. although i feel like a new england traitor, i'm sort of liking this winter. it's been unusually mild and i've not missed the snow, at least not yet. i like being able to walk outside without boots, to drive worry-free on clear pavement, to see still-green lawns and fields. at some point soon, i know i'll begin to worry about global warming and the environment. but right now, winter's feeling pretty good.

06 January 2012

best laid plans

the older i get, the more i try to approach important events with no expectations, because i know better. generally speaking, the recent holidays were wonderful, but still, there were aspects that were a bit disappointing. in an effort to move on, i've been working this week to focus on the positive and just get over it. but now i'm wondering if other letdowns may be following me into the new year. which, by the way, has nothing at all to do with this photo. i just pass this abandoned vehicle often and i wonder about it.

02 January 2012

missed opportunities of the galactic kind

tonight, the waxing gibbous moon shines directly overhead 
with jupiter bright below it. 
wednesday early, the quadrantid meteor showers in the east.
this month, saturn, venus, mars visible in the night sky...
i really need to get my telescope fixed!

01 January 2012

have a little faith

recently, i read a blog that suggested that, in lieu of making new year's resolutions, one might focus on a single word as a guide throughout the coming year. i've been rolling this idea around in my mind for days now, wondering what my word might be, and i keep coming back to this one: faith.

in 2011, i watched two friends, one actual and one virtual, step out into uncertain territory, personal uncharted waters. not only did they both survive their ordeals, they are both unscathed and happy. they both relied heavily on their faith in God that things would work out as they should. and they did. it was powerful to watch.

for the first time in memory, there is so much uncertainty surrounding me as this new year begins - a question of executive leadership, a lagging economy, citizen protest, loved ones in afghanistan, changes in local funding, looming life decisions. it's a lot to think about, and a lot feels out of my control. although my religion is vitally important to me, faith in God is only a small part of what i'm hoping for this year. i hope for faith in rational people who will make good decisions in the best interest of the many, not the few. i want faith in our leaders to keep our country strong and proud and safe. i want faith that those i love can make it through any tough times and come out stronger on the other side. i want the security of knowing wherever life leads me or whatever choices i make, i'll be okay in the end.

on my 16th birthday, my mother gave me a gold charm bracelet with a single charm: a mustard seed, encased in an acrylic dome. on the back, tiny writing; a verse from Matthew - if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed...nothing shall be impossible unto you. as a new year begins, i find comfort in this, a message of faith and hope from so long ago. to keep faith at the forefront of this year, i'm wearing the charm as a necklace, always.