Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

June 28, 2010

What’s Blooming – June Edition

Filed under: What's Blooming — Karma @ 4:45 pm
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I decided to try something different for this month’s edition of “What’s Blooming.”  I’d seen several people using WordPress’s new slideshow feature, so I thought I’d give it a try.  It turned out to be fairly easy, although I don’t know if I’d use it all the time.  It seemed I had to upload these images directly from my computer’s hard drive; there may be a way to do it using Flickr, but if so, I haven’t quite figured that out.  If you have figured this out, could you kindly let me know how to do it too? Isn’t there some sort of space limitations here on WordPress if you upload media directly to your blog rather than using a hosting site like Flickr?  This newbie blogger welcomes any WordPress tips you’d like to pass along.

I hope you will let me know what you think of seeing this edition of What’s Blooming, slideshow style.  I have captions written on each of the shots, and I believe you can use pause, play, forward and back controls on the slideshow by hovering your mouse over it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

June 27, 2010

Persistence

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:34 pm
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Remember how I told you yesterday about those raspberry vines that persist in growing up through my deck despite being cut back?  I took those pictures yesterday, yet somehow I missed the picture I’m showing you now.  Actual berries now growing on the deck!  Missing the picture, however, seems to be my theme-of-the-day.  Today I missed taking pictures of subjects I’ve been coveting:

  1. a near-by male cardinal, singing in my butterfly bush
  2. the red squirrel, scampering along my fence
  3. a ruby throated hummingbird at my fuchsia plant
  4. a bat circling my pool hunting tasty mosquitoes ( I wasn’t coveting this one, but I missed it none-the-less)

I’d like to blame missing these shots on my camera, but I can’t, it was me.

This morning as I leisurely drank my coffee and read all of you folks’ latest blog entries, I sat in my kitchen with the sliding glass door to the deck open enjoying the sounds of morning.  I suddenly realized the song of a cardinal was awfully close by sounding.  I got up just in time to see the lovely red bird flitting away from my deck-side  butterfly bush where he’d been happily trilling away.

This afternoon I was leisurely reading a book in the reclining chair I received for my birthday when I dozed off for a little bit.  I awoke to the sound of Teddy happily running along the stockade fence, chasing the red squirrel as it scampered away along the top of the fence.   I quickly ran inside for peanut butter crackers, which I placed on top of two posts of the fence, in an attempt to entice him back, and brought my camera with me, but he was gone.  I sat for a while waiting, but finally decided to go inside and make dinner.  Sometime after dinner, the crackers were gone.  I don’t know if Red got them or one of the many gray squirrels that hang around here did, but someone got themselves a little snack tonight.

This evening, as I was leisurely (Its been a leisurely kind of day!) watering my hanging plants, I was surprised and thrilled when a ruby-throated humming bird approached my fuchsia plant.  My soft cry of surprise was enough to send him darting away.  Once again, I went back inside for my camera.  I sat quiet and still outside in the hopes that the hummingbird really wanted that fuchsia nectar.  Alas, he did not return. 

While leisurely waiting for the hummingbird to return, I spotted the bat, first in my neighbor’s yard, then in mine as it swooped around my swimming pool.  I had my camera at the ready, but this time I simply could not follow the wild path of the flying, diving rodent.  The light was fading quickly and my chance disappeared into the woods.

I stayed outside tonight until about 8:45  pm hoping to have an exciting picture to share with you.  I came up empty handed today, but I will persist.

June 26, 2010

Berries Abound…and not

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 11:37 am
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There!  Those beauties got your attention, didn’t they? 😉

This is a story of another love/hate relationship (my camera, my hydrangeas..etc)  in my life.  Well, hate may be a bit too strong of a word, but it sounds better than love/strong dislike.  I love berries.  I can’t think of a berry I don’t like as I sit here typing.  Years ago, my husband came home from Home Depot or Lowe’s or some manly place like that with a very innocent looking little 6-pack of raspberry plants.  Hubby not being much of a fruit-eater, I was pleased he wanted to make this addition to my backyard garden.  I had already planted some seedless concord grape vines on the side of our house, and there was some space left between the grapes and our deck where I thought the raspberries would fit nicely.  I don’t think we got many berries that first year, but the plants did nicely and continued to grow each year.  Now this is what they look like:
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That innocent little 6-pack has turned into a ginormous, roving, monster of a berry beast!  Those are my grapevines in the background of the shot, climbing the house.  The raspberries have invaded the grapes’ space, my lawn ( I run over small shoots each time I mow) and my deck:
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Each year I cut them back, but each year they keep coming!  Their invasive nature is the “strong dislike” part of this story, but every year, I forgive them because I get this:
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Aren’t they beautiful?  Like everything else this year, the raspberries are early, robust and bountiful.  Back in the beginning of the month, I took this shot:
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I was very excited about what was coming.  I normally don’t pick raspberries until July.  For at least the past week or so, my daughter has been picking a bowlful like this on a daily basis:
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(I included the shot with “Blue’s Clues” on the bowl because I think its kinda funny.  My daughters are teenagers now, but we still have this bowl from one of their favorite shows when they were little.)

And now for the “not” part of the story.  Two years ago my sister gave me some strawberry plants from her huge patch, which also began with an innocent little 6-pack brought home from the store by her husband ( I think – correct me if I’m wrong, Jennifer).  The patch has come to be known as “Larry’s Berries” over the years.  But I digress.  With my vegetable garden taking up all the space to one side of my deck and raspberries and grapes on the other, I needed a place for the strawberries.  I didn’t want to add them to the end of my veggie garden because Larry’s Berries have ended up taking up a prodigious amount of space in Jennifer’s garden.  The space near the back of my house and deck is the sunniest in my yard, so I wished to reserve it for my veggies.  The next sunniest space is where our above ground pool is
Sparkley pool

..so I decided to create a small space to the side of it to create what I was sure would be my very own bountiful strawberry patch
Strawberry fields forever?

The plants grew pretty well.  This is  our third year with the plants and it was looking good this spring, with lots of blossoms and tiny berries:
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This area is a bit further away from the house, closer to the wooded area of the yard.  Last year, the few berries we got were eaten by critters, I’m thinking chipmunks, despite the bird netting we protected them with.  We tried a new strategy with the netting this year, but didn’t have enough to cover the whole patch because it had indeed grown in size.  Hubby promised to get me some more and finish covering it over while I was at work.  Well, things happen, and the netting was never fully put in place.  I’m not sure this netting would have even saved our little patch.  Critters can be fairly industrious and this is what we ended up with for strawberries this year:
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I’m thinking maybe I should find a new place for my strawberry patch next year!

Oh well, I’ll enjoy my raspberries for as long as we can pick them.  Because of their delicate nature, raspberries don’t seem to keep long enough for me to gather enough to cook something wonderful from them.  I just have to eat them! Bummer, huh?

June 23, 2010

More Flowery-Type Things OR Fun with Macro 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 10:56 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Recital went pretty well for the girls and me this past Saturday night.  It was not without some bumps along the way, but the issues always seem more major to us (the dancers) than to the audience, luckily.  Traditionally, flowers are presented to dancers at the end of a performance, and my husband chose a lovely bouquet for me:
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With the exception of the roses, alstroemeria and baby’s breath, I unfortunately don’t know the names of the other blooms featured here.  This bouquet was more than a “congratulations for a nice performance” for me – it was of course a photo opportunity!  I took my bouquet outside in the afternoon to use some bright natural light and set out to fill my frame with blooms since I’d had some luck in the past taking some pictures that made me happy this way.
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I liked the focus on the forward petals and the softer focus further back in the shot here.  (Tracy, can you help at all on the flower name here?)

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Again, I don’t know the name of this one, but I love how the bright blue of this one came through – this is untouched by photoshop.

Inspired by Michaela’s recent macro pictures from the farmer’s market, I decided to grab my macro lens and my gorillapod and try some very-close-ups.  When I got back outside and considered the height of the gorillapod and the height of the flowers in the vase, I decided I didn’t really have a good place to position the pod.  Undeterred, I made some hand-held attempts.
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The focus is very selective here, but I liked the overall affect of this shot.  This is looking in at the center of the white alstroemeria.

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This is the petal of the unknown blue flower.  I think the sparkly look of this one is pretty cool.

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And here’s a look at the center of that same flower.

One of my first successful attempts ever with my macro lens was a picture of a single bud of baby’s breath.  That shot was taken indoors, with a flash, my homemade flash diffuser, and the camera resting on my table.  I revisited baby’s breath in this shot:
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The focus is not tack-sharp, but I didn’t think it was too bad for hand-holding.  What I really liked about this picture was the baby’s breath bud and the way the unknown-blue-flower made a nice backdrop!  If anyone can name any of my unknown flowers from this bouquet (there are others I did not feature in this post, but you can see them all in my first shot) it’d be great if you could help me out in the comments!

June 19, 2010

Hatin’ on my Camera

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 12:02 pm
Tags: , ,

I probably shouldn’t be saying this because the gods of Olympus will probably make me pay, but last night I was really hating my camera.  Granted, the situation I was trying to photograph was a difficult one: poor lighting and fast-moving subjects.  Then I went over to Scott’s site this morning and saw a beautifully exposed, complicated lighting situation, which made me dislike my camera even more!  Now part of my bad experience last night with my camera, I know, was because I didn’t take the time to go back to my camera manual again and review manual settings and what I have learned about exposure.  Why not you may ask?  The situation that caused my poor  photographing conditions was dress rehearsal for my daughters’ and my dance recital  tonight.  I was more concerned with making sure we had all the stuff we needed for the night ready to go, than thinking about my camera.  Instead of adjusting shutter speed, aperture and ISO myself, I tried two different settings I thought might work: the “sport” setting and “quick shutter.”  Those both sound good, don’t they?  Well, they weren’t.  The lament of point-and-shoot photographers everywhere, shutter-lag, confounded me on so many attempted shots.
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Sarah’s back…
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Sarah’s back…
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Sarah’s back!

Sooooo frustrating!  Luckily, while the shots are so very far from perfect (these are also S.O.O.C. – I’m not in the mood for editing today, recital is tonight!) I managed to get a few that made me happy enough…
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I liked the motion of this shot.. (Sarah is on the right in the foreground )
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..and of this one.  This is my older daughter, Meghan.
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Here she is on pointe; I’m very proud of her abilities in the beautiful style of dance.

A few other various shots from last night:
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Another lady there last night was busily using her Canon Rebel to shoot away.  As I heard its shutter sounds behind me, the jealousy grew!  Sigh!

There are some other shots from last night on my Flickr photostream if you care to check them out.  Sorry, no pictures of me in my costumes – such is the problem for the family photographer; we are rarely featured in a photo unless we ask.  Wish us luck tonight!

June 16, 2010

Weekend at the Edge of the World

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 7:33 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Hubby and I have had a nice tradition for virtually every year since we’ve been married; we go away for the weekend for our anniversary, just the two of us.  It has always been somewhere within driving distance of our home and within view of the ocean.  Usually we’ve gone to Maine or Cape Cod, and once or twice Cape Ann.  As I may have mentioned before, my mom moved to the Cape about 7 years ago; that makes it quite convenient for us to leave our girls with their grandmother for the weekend and head to a beachfront hotel on our own.  The past few years, I have been able to find very nice, affordable oceanfront  lodging in the small town of Truro, MA.  This year, we stayed at the Top Mast Resort.  This was the view from our room:
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And looking up the beach the other way:
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I called this post Weekend at the “Edge of the World” because I have a memory of a friend of my mother’s from my childhood saying, “Take me to the edge of the world!” when they went away for a girls’ weekend at the Cape.  The edge of the world, from their point of view was Provincetown, MA, even more specifically Race Point:

This is Provincetown Harbor as seen from Pilgrim Monument; the spit of land to the mid-right of the shot is Race Point.  I tried walking out to the lighthouse there last year on my visit but,

it felt a lot like that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where they keep showing the knights trying to approach the castle but they never get any closer.  Hubby and I had been walking for a long time on one of my wild goose chases, as he likes to call it, (photo adventures is my preferred term – check comment #1 for an explanation!) and we just didn’t have the steam to continue.  But enough about last year!

Due to a pretty lousy week for hubby and me, our anniversary weekend away this year became more about relaxing and enjoying each other’s company at the beach.  No big hiking or biking expeditions or photo adventures.  We  lounged on our balcony while the weather allowed:
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Fantasized about what it would be like to own beach property like this:
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Breathed in ocean air and watched the birds fly by:
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Wait a second!  Birds? On my small LCD screen while quickly grabbing this lucky shot, I thought I had maybe taken a picture of some white geese or some other sea fowl when I saw those long necks.  Imagine my surprise when I looked at this picture on my computer and discovered they were swans!  Not as impressive as Brian’s swans  or as playful as Tracy’s, but swans none-the-less!

In addition to lounging on our balcony, we did travel to the bustling Commerical Street in Provincetown where we shopped for souvenirs for our girls, bought comfy sweats at Cuffy’s, had some good meals, and took pictures for Kathy’s photo playdate.  I also met up with a witch doctor ( I think!):
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and admired some stunning roses:
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(Gee, I’m feeling a bit here like I might have almost completed Scott’s next photo assignment, which he hasn’t even officially assigned yet!  Not to worry, I’ll happily do more when the  assignment is official!)

Oh, I said in my last post that I’d talk more about dogs!  Provincetown is a very dog friendly town.  People walk their dogs everywhere in P-town. (I was not blog-thinking enough to grab some shots of some of the wide variety of pooches that I saw this weekend).  In addition to dog bakeries, Provincetown also features shops where you can buy virtually anything for your dog and for dog lovers, as well as one of the nicest dog parks I’ve ever seen:

One of many sweet sentiments engraved on the walkway into the Bark Park:

Provincetown, or the Edge of the World, is a place known for its creativity, diversity, and artistry.  Provincetown, for me, is a place known for my weekend of anniversity? LOL, I tried!

June 13, 2010

Funny Food Places in P-Town

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 7:53 pm
Tags: , ,

One of the many fun blogs I’ve started reading fairly regularly, thanks to Scott Thomas, is Kathy’s Lake Superior Spirit.  A little while back, her friend Suzi asked her to have a photo “playdate,” ( I think that is what they called it), and they took pictures of interesting food labels.  Suzi recently suggested another playdate, and the subject was to be “Funny Food Places” –  interpret as you will. Kathy just posted her funny food, which focused on a type of food with a funny name – “pasties.”  Apparently this is food they “wean their babies on” in Michigan!  I mentioned in a comment to Kathy that the word has a completely different meaning here in New England, and is pronounced with a long “a” rather than the short “a”, as was explained to me in a follow-up comment.  Made Kathy’s funny food all that much funnier to me!   Kathy invited other bloggers to participate in their playdate, so I jumped in. 

As luck would have it, I traveled to a place this weekend that is known for its creativity, Provincetown, MA, and was not disappointed in my search for funny food places.  I’ll do another post about my 18th anniversary weekend on Cape Cod with dear hubby (today is our actual day, Happy Anniversary Honey!) soon, but I wanted to get these playdate pictures posted.

I found these food places funny for different reasons – like  funny names or funny combinations of food or even funny signs.  Here’s the first that caught my eye:
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The Pig!  Yet, it had “Oyster Bar” posted underneath, hmmmm.

Next:
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There’s Burger King, why not Burger Queen, right? If you know P-town at all, you get the meaning of this one even more.

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This one struck me funny  not only with the creativity of the twisty soft-serve ice cream, but it makes me remember the hair band of the same name in the 1980’s.  Who could forget Dee Snider?

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Ha, ha!  John Dough’s!  And they serve pizza!  Get it?  Ahem, eh, moving on…
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The name of this one wasn’t so funny, but I thought the food combination was kinda funny: pizza, coffee and specifically Haagendazs ice cream.  (Haagendazs, if you happen to click over to find out why someone linked to your site, coupons for free pints would be warmly received!)

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This one is just fun to say!  Try it!  “Bubala’s by the Bay…” And their sign was pretty cool too!

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“Mr. Mojo risin’, gotta a mojo risin …”

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Look at that puppy!  He’s wired, for sure!  You can get wired here not just with the coffee and tea, but free wi-fi as well.

While we’re talking about puppies, you’ll find stores in P-town especially for your 4-legged friends, including this bakery of canine delights:
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P-town in general is very dog-friendly place.  I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming post.  But, to wrap things up, I saw one more sign that tickled my funny bone, and just about tells you all you need to know:
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Needless to say, I enjoyed much good food this past weekend, and had a lot of fun searching out the funny food places.  Kathy, I hope you enjoyed this and will invite me on another photographic playdate sometime!

June 10, 2010

A Quick Funny to my Photo Friends

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 10:08 pm
Tags: ,

Just had to share these comic strips of the Buckets with all the great photographers I’ve been lucky enough to get to know through blogging!  It made me chuckle, and I hope it does the same for you.  I think we are all “of an age” to get a laugh from Mrs. Bucket’s lament.  Reminds me of photography class in college.  Have a great weekend!

PS – Comics appear courtesy of Comics.com 

PPS- I know we all love our digital cameras, and I for one could never go back to film!  I hope Mrs. Bucket discovers how awesome they are in the next few strips!

June 7, 2010

What’s Blooming – Late May/Early June

Filed under: What's Blooming — Karma @ 7:45 pm
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It’s time for me to do another edition of “What’s Blooming”  before those blog post ideas start piling up in my head again.  Let’s jump right in with some favorites of mine, that have actually already come and gone, peonies.  I have 4 peony shrubs along the side of my driveway.  I don’t know the names of the specific varieties, but I have:
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a dark pink,

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a medium pink,

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white

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and a pale pink with a bit of fuschia edging.  You can see this edging a little better before they fully open:
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In the same garden with my irises, I’ve planted some other perennials to keep the color going once the irises have faded.  The next one to bloom after the irises, is what I call my “crazy poppy.”  I call it this because of its bright orange color…
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its funky purple middle…
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its wild looking bud (if you click on this photo and head to my Project 365 entry with this picture, you find some pretty funny comments when I played a guessing game with the folks who commented on the project)…
Can you name this bud?

…and this plant’s tenacity!  When I first planted this flower, I thought I had purchased something more to the reddish-pink color category in keeping with the color scheme of this particular garden.  When it first bloomed that shocking orange, I actually tried to get rid of it.  But it just kept coming back, so I kept it.  Now it has kind of grown on me, despite the way it clashes with everything else I’ve planted in that garden.

A received a little surprise among my blooms this year.  I have an old-fashioned whiskey-barrel planter in which I plant a “spike” surrounded by annuals each year.  My girls marvel at how late into the fall and sometimes even early winter that spike survives.  This year, however, something else apparently survived.  Before I got around to planting this year, I noticed greenery coming up in the barrel.  I didn’t think much of it, assuming them to be weeds.  Weeds they were not!
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I  planted those thickly settled members of the carnation family (I think)  last year. (Tracy, can you help me out?  I can’t remember their name!) I know they are not perennials, so I can only assume they re-seeded themselves and managed to survive a New England winter.

Growing in great abundance this year are my clematis vines.  Again I don’t know the specific variety.  I’m a bit disappointed in the orientation of the vines this year.  You see this view..
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..faces down the side of the house that no one ever travels.  I meant for them to face out toward my driveway, but all the blooms this year are on the other side!  They are looking quite prolific this year too.  There are a ton of buds still to open.  I think I got quite lucky with the light for these photos because I’m pleased with the true color of the purple that is shown here.
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While I was happily snapping away at this prodigious proliferation of purple, I noticed a little visitor:
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While I’ve never been a fan of spiders, a cute little daddy-long-legs generally doesn’t send me running for the hills.  Speaking of small visitors, one morning last week while I was getting ready for work, I found this one scurrying around my grill!
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While not as adorable as Tracy’s recent shots, I thought it was pretty cool to have a little red squirrel  showing up on my deck for a couple mornings!  It may not look like a red squirrel in this shot, but I swear there’s a red tail hanging behind him or her.  I took that shot through the sliding glass door on my “behind glass” setting so I could grab the picture without sending the subject scrambling from the sound of the squeaky door.

I have a few other shots of things in bloom that I have posted on my Flickr photostream that I haven’t added to this edition of What’s Blooming.  I just decided they weren’t all that spectacular, but if you feel like checking ’em out, please feel free! (They are kind of scattered over pages 1-3)  If there’s one that you are curious about, or think maybe I should have included in this post, please let me know in the comments.

June 4, 2010

A Gardener’s Day in the Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:18 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Last weekend, after my mournful Red Sox Game, I spent my Saturday planting my vegetable garden.  This has been a Memorial Day weekend tradition for me for many years now.  In the early years of my garden, I easily grew luscious tomatoes, bountiful peppers, and piles of cucumbers and zucchini.  I dabbled in corn one year – result, epic failure, due to local raccoons managing to pick virtually every ear just a day or so before it was perfectly ripe.  I’ve experimented with carrots, onions and radishes.  My clay soil is not overly friendly to root crops, although radishes flourished for a few years.  Eggplant and summer squash have come and gone from year to year.  I even gave tomatillos a shot one summer, but we don’t really have the growing season for them here in Massachusetts.  I’ve never had a successful planting of any kind of melon – I’ve tried both watermelon and cantaloupe.  Despite my successes and failures, it wouldn’t be summer for me without getting out there and getting my hands in the dirt.

Typically, on the day that I set out to plant my garden, this is how the space looks that I need to tackle:
My garden, 9:00 am, 5/25/08

Leaves to clear, weeds to pull, debris to move.  This year, however, hubby gave my garden and me a treat after the garden of the past few years hasn’t been as successful as I’d like it to be: 4 yards of fresh top soil!
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The photo above is how my garden looked at 9:00 am on Saturday morning.
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And this is how it looked at about 6:00 pm Saturday evening.  I only took a break for lunch, and I planted 68 fresh young vegetable plants, most of which were purchased from my local garden center, Sixteen Acres Gardens:
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Yeah, all those seeds I started this year?  The only ones that actually made it into my garden were, you guessed it, the watermelon seedlings (and I’m still not convinced they will grow even with the new top soil and the patches of composted manure that I planted them in!  They are “icebox” sized seedless melons, but in the past the largest melon I ever got from these vines was the size of a baseball!) Here are the best looking of those seedlings, not that much bigger than the last time I showed them to you.
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In addition to the watermelon, this year’s garden contains:
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Tomatoes (6 Big Beef and 6 Better Boys)

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Hot Peppers (12 Thai Dragons, 6 Jalepenos, 6 Long Red Cayennes)
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Sweet Bell Peppers (6)
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Cucumbers (12)
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And zucchini (6)

And this is what I looked like at the close of this gardener’s day:
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(I think I’ve mentioned before its hard to do much around here without involvement from 4-legged residents! )

Right now, I’m still in the early glory days of the garden season.  The plants are fresh and new and healthy.  I have hopes for my new top soil.  I’m hoping for some cooperation from Mother Nature, with just the right amount of sun and rain (which has NOT been the case the past few summers).  The dirt is weed free.  But, like the road to Hell, the paths of my garden are paved with good intentions.  Check back with me in August!  Hopefully, the garden won’t look like this:
The weeds win!

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