Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

August 8, 2013

Sometimes It’s the Little Things

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:56 am
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You can feel it in the air. You can see it in the light. You can hear it in the heat bugs. Summer is in its downward spiral.
zinnia

Kate was saying it too. It seems strange to be thinking this way when we are still in the single digits of August, but the end is much nearer than I’d like it to be.

We leave for Maine for our annual week’s vacation on Hills Beach this Saturday. When we return, time is going to fly. Meghan moves into her dorm only 2 weeks from today. School begins again for me on Monday the 26th.

In the little time that I have left, I’m trying to remember to enjoy the little things, like the little visitors to the area of my backyard deck.

All of these little ones appeared just yesterday.
A great spangled frillitary
great spangled frillitary

What I believe to be a juvenile ruby throated hummingbird(according to what I’ve read it is difficult to tell the females from the juveniles)
tiny hummingbird

Can you see him (or her) sitting on the other side of the feeder? Here’s another shot with the head tipped back and a wing out for balance.
having a sip
I thought the bee in the background was kind of neat too.

While I sat with my current summer read (Under the Dome by Stephen King - have you read this one? Excellent so far!) I noticed a hopping motion out of the corner of my eye.
This tiny visitor was making its way across my deck:
frog visitor

It occured to me that there was no frame of reference for just how tiny this little guy is in the photo, so I grabbed a dime and quietly slid it over to where it was sitting, hoping it wouldn’t decide to hop away before I took this picture:
tiny frog

This will likely be my last post before we leave for Maine. I’ve got my fingers crossed for nice weather. We may have wi-fi available during this trip, so I may check in with you from time to time during the week and on Facebook if we are friends there.

“..you feel it in the air, summer’s (not quite!) out of reach…” Extra points if you can name the song I’m paraphrasing in the comments without googling it! ;-)

July 29, 2013

State of My Year

WordPress’s Daily Prompt today says to “Write up a mid-year “State of My Year” post.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us NOW.”

I’ve been receiving the Daily Prompt in my email for quite a long time now and often thought the idea presented sounded interesting to blog about, but I’ve rarely participated for no good reason other than being busy with other things or just being distracted by daily life. I was thinking I’d like to write a blog post today but wasn’t sure how to collect my thoughts. The prompt arrived in my email and seemed like an interesting “take stock” idea. The prompt calls it “mid-year” – it is the end of July, that’s really a bit past mid-year, isn’t it? It is also just a little past the mid-point of summer vacation from school too, so here’s where things are at for me.

Anticipation for Meghan’s move to campus has begun. We’ve been out shopping for dorm supplies.
dorm supplies
Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Christmas Tree Shops have all provided us with some great deals and bargains to get her set up in the place she will live for 9 months starting on August 22nd. It is exciting and scary and happy and sad all at once. My stomach does flip-flops whenever I think about it.

My garden seems to be doing nicely. I’m pretty much keeping up with the weeding this year.
garden mid-summer
Those piles to the right of center are weeds I’ve pulled and hoed and raked, but I just haven’t removed from the garden yet. I’ve harvested some of nearly everything I’ve planted this year, including tomatoes.
garden harvest
I’m not used to having tomatoes until mid-August, so those early girls were a nice treat.

The butterfly bushes are in full bloom and the swallowtails and hummingbird moths have returned to drink their fill of nectar.
tiger swallowtail

hummingbird moth

Other plants surrounding my deck, I’m ashamed to admit, have not fared so well. During the intense heat wave most of the country endured a little over a week ago, I spent little time outside and forgot about my poor little potted plants needing water!
oops forgot to water them
Oops! I’ve never been so neglectful. I killed every one of my potted annuals, except for this mini-rose the girls gave me for Mother’s Day.
mini-rose
It was lucky enough to be planted in a “self-watering” container with a little reservoir in the bottom of the pot, so it survived. Maybe I should look for a few more of those containers, huh?

looks ok
Ah, the pool. It has been both a blessing and a thorn in my side this summer. I told you in this post about the liner tearing and needing replacing. Then, I explained here what happened when we did replace it. Since then, hoses have sprung leaks and needed replacing and parts have come loose, unbeknownst to me at the time, and drained a couple hundred gallons of water from the pool. Then last night, as I was cleaning up from dinner, I noticed the lights in the house were flickering. I looked around trying to figure out if there was a brown-out going on, when smoke billowing up from my backyard caught my eye! At that moment, a small burst of flame appeared in the area of the pool’s filter. I ran outside, unplugged the filter and turned on the hose. The flame was gone, but this was discovered:
yikes
I have no idea why but the power cord to the filter shorted out and fried. Goody, yet another pool part that needs replacing this year. I do feel lucky, however, that the flame didn’t go anywhere and cause any other damage.

Before the smoking adventure with my pool, we had just returned home from our annual camping trip. This is a tradition 20+ years in the making which you can read about here if you are interested. I didn’t take any pictures this year on our trip to Tolland State Forest in Otis, Ma, except for this pretty great one of our whole group of campers, couples and families who have been friends since we were teenagers/young adults:
da gang
We were all pretty happy we made it through the weekend without a drop of rain. That isn’t usually the case for our camping trips! In fact, this past weekend had to be one of the nicest we’ve ever experienced while camping: sunny skies, pleasant temperatures and no humidity.

I am looking forward to the rest of what summer holds. My younger daughter turns 16 this week! Party and learner’s permit coming soon. Our annual vacation to Maine is less than two weeks away.

That’s the “now” of my life at this little-more-than-mid-point of the year. How is your “now”?

July 25, 2013

Summer ‘Round the ‘Ham

Summertime in Wilbraham. A simple small town with simple tastes.
One of our most famous tastes (at least in the northeast):
Home of Friendly's

We feel pretty strongly about ice cream around here. In fact if I ever tell someone I’ve just met where I’m from, they say, “Oh yeah! Home of Friendly’s!” as it so clearly proclaims on the Massachusetts Turnpike. (Click here to see a photo of that proclamation that I took for one of Scott’s assignments way back when) In fact, Friendly’s just set a Guinness World Record to do with ice cream.
A World Record!

I’m not 100% positive, but Friendly’s may have chosen to do this in conjunction with the fact that our town is celebrating its semiquincentenial – 250th anniversary – this year.
Semiquincentenial
There have been a variety of events around town this summer (and had I been aware of Scott’s assignment earlier I might have made more effort to get out and photograph them!) including a parade, a town-wide tag sale, an antique car “hill climb” (sorry Scott, I bet you would have liked to see photos of that!) and there is a picnic/festival still to come this August.

In addition to eating ice cream, we like to go the movies too. This theater is not in Wilbraham, but it is very close to the town line.
movies
I know you can go to the movies any time of year, but we enjoy seeing many of the big summer releases and like going at just about any time of the day since there is no school or work for the girls and me in the summer.

Other things I enjoy about summer happen right here in my own backyard, literally:
pool time
(I tried very hard to use the self-timer on my camera to take a picture of myself lazily floating on that raft, but that was as far as I could get in the 10-second maximum allowed by the timer!)

corona
What’s nicer on a warm summer evening than kicking back like this?

Well, Scott, I don’t think I’ve compelled anyone to book their next summer vacation in the Home of Friendly’s, but I hope you’ve enjoyed a look at summer in Wilbraham!

July 5, 2013

Bubble Wrap

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 9:34 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

bubbles
Did I make you wonder about this blog post with that title? It is me trying to be cute. I had three brave participants (four if you include me) in the iHeartFaces June Photo Hunt, and I’d like to draw your attention to their posts if you haven’t seen them already.

Mike of Picture Day jumped right in, going so far as to create a category for the hunt on his blog page, but then felt he kind of petered out. I gave him a gentle nudge explaining the easy ways of a photo hunt around here and how I’m pretty much “rules shmules”. He ended up finding a beautiful variety of photos to share from the month of June.

I was looking forward to the gorgeous collages that I was sure that Robin of Breezes at Dawn would create. She not only came through, but managed to showcase something for all 30 words of the hunt! Robin has some really lovely photos and was very creative.

Carol of Wanderings of an Elusive Mind also thought that she would jump all over this photo hunt, but lamented that she got distracted and forgot to take the photos she planned. I’m happy that Carol decided to post the photos that she remembered to take. No worries, Carol, about being “feeble” or anything else! I enjoyed your photos and am glad you made the effort to participate!

(Pssssst…. hey Joanne and Dawn….weren’t you going to show me some photos for this hunt? ;-) )

You can find my photo hunt here. I had fun just taking random photos here and there during the month, trying to keep the list in mind when I had down time. On the day I did the post, I had Sarah come outside and blow bubbles for me. I had forgotten how difficult photographing those could be.
Bubbles(2)

That same day, I started picking raspberries from the patch in my yard. I’ve been enjoying at least this many
berries
each day since. I’ve been thinking about making this pie again soon if it isn’t too late to still find local strawberries.

I’m starting to wonder, my friends, is the hey-day of blogging starting to wane? I know we all have busy lives and other things going on. It seems to me that this WordPress community that I feel lucky to have become a part of 3 years ago, has started to lose interest. I was doing a little housekeeping around the blog the other day (you may have noticed a couple widgets I have removed and a couple I’ve added) and realized I haven’t seen posts from plenty of favorite bloggers in quite a while and folks that used to comment fairly often, rarely do anymore. Do any of you find this to be the case at your blog?

Is there interest in another photo hunt this summer? Let me know what you think about this -and my other questions too – in the comments. Thanks!

June 28, 2013

Party Prepping

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:01 am
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Tomorrow is Meghan’s graduation party. Party supplies are invading my dining room.
party supplies (1)
There’s a borrowed crockpot in the foreground with a bunch of serving utensils I just happened to find in my basement yesterday. (How weird is that?) And yup, there’s a box of Legos there too. Not for the graduate (although Meghan did say she wouldn’t put it past her friends to want to play with them, lol) but for younger guests we are expecting. We decided to rent a church hall for the party since I really don’t have room for 50 party guests in my house if the weather is bad. New England weather is just so unpredictable in summertime. So I thought it would be good to bring along toys and games to keep children amused. My dining room has become the collection area for everything we have to remember to take with us tomorrow.

party supplies (2)

There’s a big ol’ bag of chocolate for the chocolate fountain, which I never did experiment with before the party darn it. The bag with the frilly stuff sticking out has balloon weights which I actually thought would make cool centerpieces.

party supplies (3)

Decorations, disposable pans and trays. I can’t tell you how many visits I’ve made to the local dollar stores! Turns out they are a great place for party supplies. Today I’m going to go do the grocery shopping for all the food we are serving. Wish me luck that I actually remember it all in one trip!

In other news, the girls both made the newspaper about a week ago in our local section for the prom:
kids in the paper
I thought that was kind of cool.

And our pool has been returned to up-and-running status:
pool restored
It was a hot and nasty job, but we got it completed with the help of the kids. Unfortunately, we did not get it completed without an injury, dang it!
foot injury
Lovely, isn’t it? Actually, I am extremely grateful that’s all that it is – a bruise, a little swelling, small cuts. It happened when our pool ladder collapsed with me on it! I was climbing out of the empty pool after laying out the new liner in the center. When I turned to go down the outside of the ladder it gave and tumbled forward into the pool, taking the side of the pool and me down with it. Parts of the ladder crashed on to my foot. Hurt like a son-of-a-”B” at the time! I feel pretty lucky, actually, that is all that it was – very happy not to be spending the summer in a cast.
Well, I need to get moving on my errands for today. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and be sure to leave me links to your June-Photo-Hunt-Thingy in the comments of this post!

June 22, 2013

Want to come have a look around my backyard?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:33 am
Tags: , , , ,

My summertime hangout
I spend so much time here each summer – happy summer, by the way! – I thought I’d show you around a little bit. I haven’t really “prettied” things up for you all that much, I hope you don’t mind. You might notice the bits and pieces of a life lived here in suburbia if you poke around some.
step down, have a look around
Come, step down off the deck. The garden is doing nicely. I was worried about it for a while after the wet, cool, spring we’ve had, but these last few days of glorious sunshine and perfect temperatures have given me hope all will be well.
garden looking good
I did some weeding on my first day off from school for the summer. So far so good. I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers and summer squash this year. Kinda funny story: I decided to cut back a little on the amount of plants I plant this year – figured spacing them out would keep them healthier. I decided not to grow squash at all since they always get away from me and grown into giant clubs before I get to eat them. I came home from the garden center and realized I had purchased yellow summer squash instead of cucumbers! Oh well! I planted them anyway.
tiny yellow summer squash
I did go back and buy cucumbers.
cucumber plants
Summer without fresh cucumbers would be like summer without fresh garden grown tomatoes!
early girl tomatoes
Anyone who knows me knows that would be simply unacceptable! I was thrilled to find these little early girls when I had a look around the other day.
Hot peppers are on the way too:
hot peppers on the way
Here’s the little table that holds my gardening supplies. Some of the stuff here is new, some of it old. I found a pair of scissors here this spring that apparently spent the whole winter outside!
my garden work table
Let’s head out the gate now and look around the rest of the yard. Hubby crafted this new gate for me since the old one had rotted away. I installed the new length of garden fence it is attached to myself! (You can see it in the picture of the whole garden up above)
new garden gate
If you look to the left, you’ll see the remains of childhood past.
Of childhood past
My girls spent many wonderful hours playing here. I do miss those days. Teddy does occasionally make use of the space.
Collie cave
Just past the swingset, you’ll see a large bushy area of daylilies.
A swarm of daylily plants
Years ago my mother’s friend gave me a few daylilies that she had removed from her yard. This is what has happened from the planting of maybe a dozen plants! They will be in bloom next month sometime.
Farther down the fence, you can see where hubby has had to make some impromptu repairs. The fence is actually our neighbors’ but we do use it to help keep our dogs fenced in. The various strong storms of the last few years have taken their toll on this fence.
fence repair
I’ve randomly tried different varities of flowering plants along this fence. Wildflower mixes, plants that didn’t make it in other parts of the yard, cast-offs from neighbors and friends. Some have survived some have not. I’m often surprised by the little flowering jewels I’ve found along the fence.
Still blooming after all these years

Hidden jewels

Looking across the yard from the fence, you can see the expanse of lawn that I mow. It takes me about an hour and a half to do my whole yard. You can see another beloved object too:
The still-loved tire swing
The tire swing. Every now and then, someone still jumps on for a little swing. Friends of Meghan’s stopped by the other day to say hello to the dogs and then spotted the swing. A group of high school seniors all had to have their turn on the tire swing.
Heading back up the yard, you’ll encounter the pool.
more work to do
As you can see, it isn’t in great shape. The liner ripped over the winter and has to be replaced. Hubby and I will be at work on that nasty chore this weekend.
Past the pool, back near the deck again, are the raspberries.
after a strong pruning this spring
I gave them a good pruning this spring. It seems to have done some good. The crop of berries looks much more promising this year than last year.
almost raspberries

Come around by the buttefly bushes (also strongly pruned back this spring!) and you are back at the deck.
zooming butterfly bushes
It looks to be a glorious summer. I can’t wait for all my favorite season has to offer! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

June 19, 2013

Just one thing to say today:

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 8:52 am
Tags: , , ,

Okay maybe not just one thing. But that’s the most important thing. It is my first morning of being out of school for the summer. My plan for today? Take it easy. Do some thinking and organizing for upcoming events. Hope people RSVP for the party next weekend. Maybe take some pictures. Maybe take a walk. (anyone have a good deer fly repellent, by the way?) Breathe. :-)

Hello!
Hello Summer! I’ve missed you!

September 22, 2012

Funking Out in Every Way

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 7:35 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Boy, what a funk I’ve found myself in today.  Today is the official beginning of autumn.  Coincidence?  I think not!  As much as I’d love to blame the start of fall for my mood, in all fairness, it really wasn’t at fault.  For most of the day, the weather was nothing but lovely. This mood that I’m in, however, will allow me to present my feelings about the end of summer with unvarnished truth.

storm clouds rolling in

I think regular readers of this blog already know about how I feel concerning summer’s demise.  How apropos to find gray clouds blotting out the sun as I searched out the subjects of my photos for Scott’s assignment.  The sky mirrored the feelings in my head and my heart today.

shades of gray

The golden warmth of a summer day that warms my soul and my toes will soon be whisked away as we barrel head on toward the cold and drizzle of the months to come.
shriveling dahlia

Memories of summer packed away, awaiting better days.
Beach supplies packed away

No one is splashing, swimming, floating, enjoying the pool any longer as my raft lies abandoned, dry and deflating and awaiting closure.
Sorry pool float

And my boys of summer. As sad a story as there could be. Their season nearly over before it began, officially eliminated from play-offs, just playing out the month. My Red Sox bear hides his face.
Sad Red Sox bear

I promise I’ll snap out of it.  This funk won’t rule this blog, or my life for long.  This post was my contribution to Scott’s assignment “End of Summer.”  There is still time for you to participate – posts are due by midnight your time on Wednesday, September 26th.

September 15, 2012

Transition

Hello there bloggers, readers, family and friends.  I’ve missed you!  This blog has been quiet for almost two weeks.  It wasn’t really on purpose or a blogging break; I think the blogging muse in my head has simply been silent.  I’m honestly not sure if other parts of my brain tied her up and took her hostage or if she just stepped out for a while.  Either way, she’s back this morning.  I have such a mix of feelings and thoughts and photos to share, I’m not sure how this blog post will eventually come out, but if you’re ready for what will likely be a bumpy ride, join me for a spell.

This time of year is generally a rollercoaster ride of emotions for me.  I feel a deep sadness at the passing of summer.  (By the way, Scott has a new photo assignment posted about just this subject – be sure to have a look!)  I’m not ready to let the heat and bright sunshine and lazy days go just yet.
phlox

Memories of summer vacation are still fresh in my mind, but that place seems so very far away right now.

the cottage

However, I can’t live in the past, so I do try to appreciate the beauty of the season to come.  I do admit that fading summer/early autumn does present some beautiful light, and I was drawn outside with my 50mm lens the other afternoon.  I’m not sure why, but I’ve found the 50mm often does a lovely job of capturing true colors and a soft-but-sharp-at-the-same-time focus (if any photog-types have a reason for this that you can explain, feel free to do so in the comments).  These dahlias I planted in my whiskey barrel planter have been gorgeous all summer, but I never felt quite able to capture them until I took the nifty-fifty to them:

Dahlias #1

Dahlias #2

Dahlias #3

It is hard to deny that autumn is on the way when the goldenrod appears.

Goldenrod

This monarch butterfly kind of looks like how I feel: it seems to be trying to take in the last that summer has to offer, while surrounded by encroaching fall.

monarch in butterfly bushes

(Perhaps I should have saved this one for Scott’s assignment?)

I know that fans of autumn will remind me of all the goodness fall has to offer.  Warm, golden afternoons, crisp nights, crunchy apples, hot cider, rainbows of foliage.  I do enjoy them all.  But for now, allow me to mourn and maybe wallow just a bit in my sadness about, the passing of my favorite season.

 

August 8, 2012

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

It is funny sometimes how blog posts come to be.  I realized yesterday that I hadn’t updated about my proposed birding project despite the fact that I have indeed been doing a bit of work on it.  But then, I never want to post a blog post without pictures, and I didn’t have any new bird photos to share.  It was still fairly early in the morning – yeah, 9 am is early for me in the summertime, got something to say about that? ;-) – so I went out to the backyard to see if any birds would cooperate and pose a little bit.

You know what they say about sometimes forgetting to see the forest for the trees?  While I was outside trying for those bird photos, it suddenly struck me that I was doing that.  Yesterday was one of those beautiful mornings – sunny, blue sky with just a few puffy white clouds, low humidity, temperature only in the upper 60′s.  I stepped back a little bit to breathe and take it all in.  I was getting a little dizzy from looking up into the trees and trying to focus on the fast-flitting birds.

When I took the time to be in the moment, I also noticed the cool feel of the morning dew on my toes,

dewy toes

that the moon was out,

morning moon

that the lantana was coming back for a second round of blooming,

lantana

and that the squirrel that has been vigorously picking acorns and knocking them out of my oak tree was up to some morning acrobatics.

squirrel

So did I get any new bird photos to share?  Yes and no.  I saw the bright orange flash of the Baltimore orioles near the tip-top of a tree, but this underside of the belly and tail was the best I could catch:

baltimore oriole

A bird I’ve photographed plenty of times before, an American robin, stayed fairly close for a photo.

robin

A gray catbird also posed for me.  The only photo I’d ever gotten in the past of this bird was hidden among branches and badly blurred.

gray catbird

And I was able to add a photo of a bird that I’ve seen before but hadn’t been positive about identifying and had no photos of one in my collection, a northern mockingbird.  This bird was at the top of a very tall tree, so this is very tightly cropped, but I think it came out okay:

northern mockingbird

So, progress on the birding project: I have a “confirmed” life list of 59 species of birds.  This does not include many birds I’ve seen in captivity such as parrots, parakeets, cockatiels, flamigoes and penguins.  I’m never likely to see those birds “in the wild” so my list would be well over 60 if those were included.  I’ll definitely be bringing my checklist with me to Maine in the hopes of adding a few more “lifers”.

I hope you’ll remember to step back and enjoy a few beautiful moments too.  Summer is quickly passing us by – enjoy it!

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