Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stalking Gas Tankers

All is well here in Beano land, I guess. Yes, we are gasless.

When we were informed fuel would arrive, it didn’t. We’re still waiting while gas tankers stop by and randomly deliver a few gallons here and there. Panic-stricken motorists drive several miles on interstates following those tankers, wasting away their one-eighth tank, and line up at the pumps fearing the worst – the freakin’ guy ahead of you took the last drop of regular and your idiot light tells you that you’re driving on fumes. Many run out of gas before they reach the pump and kind people who already pumped their gas might help with a push; however, what made the nightly news are the battles for places in line and punches thrown. How nice! It’s yet another major hiccup in the good old US of A, revealing our increasing dependency on fuel. A ridiculous, man-made crisis, indeed.

Right now, I have one-third tank of gas which will get me to work for the rest of the week if I coast down hills in neutral, turn off the A/C, and drive under the speed limit (impossible). I worry for those who don’t have the option of working from home. I’ll probably work from home a day or two this week or buy a bike. But we don’t have bike lanes! Yay! I’m off the hook!

This situation reminds me of blizzards. Don’t laugh. We’re housebound, so I cook. I don’t even like to cook. And I certainly don’t need to eat.

There is good news! Storm No Name off the coast moved west and graced us with a slow soaker for two straight days and brought some chilly weather with it.

My bird feeders are stored in the garage for a few weeks or months. That’s another story I’ll tell this week. I found a bird, not clinging on a feeder, in the rain. Imagine that.


Hmmpf. My first autumn shower and I have an audience.

I’m a little uncomfortable here. Do you have any seeds? Where are the seeds?

No seeds? No privacy? Life sucks, man.

Stop laughing at me or I’m out of here.

Dude. Got any Brylcream?

On to dogs.


Meet Junior, a neighbor. I couldn’t resist taking this photo from my driver seat on the way to work. He’s waiting for his family to walk him to the school bus stop. I think Junior enjoys his morning quiet time on the front porch because he lives with three elementary school children. Do you blame him? Are English Bulldogs hunks of love, or what?

Take a look at old photos of my own hunks of love. It’s been too long since they’ve appeared on my blog.

My grand-dog Bam. Always happy, just to BE.

My grand-dog Mr. Biggins, Bam's older sibling. He’s a sissy under that tough exterior.

My girls. Love those googly eyes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Exit Interviews


On Wednesday, September 17, I suddenly noticed they were leaving. It was so quiet around the yard compared to the night before but I made sixteen cups of nectar anyway, knowing I’d probably pour most of it down the drain in two weeks.

On April 10, I saw the first hummer of the season and it’s like a recent memory. A few at first, then there was a mid-summer hummingbird boom of seeing at least ten at once which calculates to a total of more than sixty visiting here according to banders’ calculations. There’s no wonder I had to top off four feeders every night. Where did those five months go? Today I still have three or four but tomorrow they might be gone.

Since yesterday I’ve been on the verge of editing the rest of this text – well, eliminating it, actually, because it’s so dang sappy. However, it's been my mood lately so I decided to be true. Here it is.

Now it’s time to say good-bye. I’ve been with them as often as I can during the last two weeks. And, while looking through the view finder, I talked to them, either out loud or in my mind…


I bought this beautiful tree for you. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed having you here.


Have you been pleased with the accommodations? I planted some flowers I thought you’d enjoy.


I saw you on the Lantana many times, and


you seemed to enjoy the wildflowers I planted from seed. All for you.


You liked this pretty glass feeder. It’s new.


This bright pink one was a hit, too. It’s also new. All for you.

Next March, all of your feeders will be ready and full of fresh nectar. Count on it, OK?


You’ve had a captive audience all spring and summer.
I’ve watched you from afar,


and loved our daily eye to eye meetings on the back deck, so close to me.

Travel safely, little bobbleheads. Remember the Nectar Lady next spring?


I’ll miss you. Godspeed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thoughts on Photography


Name's Mary, blogging grasshopper

Yesterday, temps around 70 under sun, overnights around 50, cool and clear…oh my. Pond needed work, but no hurry…

For a month, I’ve been taking photographs in automatic mode. I’ve taken a few shots I thought were good, but, something just wasn’t right. I thought about it every day but didn’t take the time to discover what I was missing. With a new camera that’s somewhat more sophisticated than the other, I thought I’d better be brave and learn through experiment…maybe, turn the dial? Push a button? Read a menu? Not a manual - no way. Convince myself if I push a button I won’t break the camera or cause it to explode in my hands? The options in picture-taking are endless and tempting. I tried something new and I like it. I took one small baby step and turned the dial once…


Ahhhh. A course in amateur photography would be good for me. I don’t know much about it, i.e. aperture and f-stops…what do they really mean?


I realized the pond work would take longer than anticipated. I was thinking about my picture taking habits. One is using digital zoom often. It isn’t always necessary.


Get closer, if you can.


I netted an excess of at least fifty lettuce plants as round as small pizzas and weeded for three hours. The Koi were spooked and my knees are still sore but it was a fun job.


As always, little things grab my attention like a single green blade growing on driftwood.


The Hibiscus was calling me. I dropped the pond net, rinsed algae from my fingernails, and tried a macro shot that sent me flower hopping.


Did I hear the Gardenias call me? No, their fragrance drew me there. White flowers are difficult to photograph.


The harsh winters in the Mid-Atlantic states killed them before December so I’ve always disliked Mums until now. Here’s a robust returnee.


Back to work…found a frog unhappy with my intrusion.


When my back was turned, I knew they were there - irate and noisy Tufted Titmice. This one paused for five seconds. How unusual!

My commitment to following the police cadets has made me think more seriously about photographing people. If the landscape is part of the story, it makes sense to keep your distance.


Otherwise, go to them. See and read their expression during the most difficult physical workout they’ve ever experienced. I’ve relied on zoom too often out of laziness or being timid. With their permission, I can be with them.


Now I’m remembering to sit or recline on the asphalt, or get on my knees. My slide show will tell their seventeen week story on Graduation Day, when the dark days are behind them. They’re delighted to view it with families and friends and will have their own copy.


On a chilly morning, how can you capture the steam rising from his body after he finished the workout of his life? You walk up to him and fire away. Don’t be shy.

Yes, that’s Nikki Parker (Johnson) on the far left :o)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Driving Miss Mary


Ha Ha. Let’s laugh for a few minutes.

I have good driving habits, I think. Text messaging, applying makeup, or using my cell phone while driving is prohibited unless it’s urgent. I drive the car and do nothing else except scan the landscape for hawks, vultures, or anything that interests me. Talk radio entertains me in the early morning hours but most of the time I listen to my favorite music stations and sing loudly if my mood is right. Driving the car is my focus and watching for idiots. Idiots make me cuss.

He does other things while driving and that’s why he misses exits.

I always wonder why he waits to fasten his seat belt until he’s making a turn or merging onto an interstate. When he buckles up, we sway a little.

He’ll sightsee, point to road construction, and comment on the new thingamajigs (barriers?) they’ve erected for new lanes. Oh, boy! How interesting. I say, “Hmmm. Just drive the car.”

Will he ever brake for stopped traffic? I do it for him, on my side of the car - feet firmly planted on an imaginary brake pedal. I warn, “They’re stopping, slow down…” Boy, that really sets him off! “My foot’s on the brake, Mare!” I think, “a little too late, mister.”

There’s his ever present energy drink in the cup holder:

Unscrew the cap. Swerve vehicle. Take a small swig.

Screw the cap back on the bottle. Swerve vehicle.

Repeat every two minutes.

He’ll throw his head back for a view of the ceiling to get that last drop from the bottle. I close my eyes to oncoming traffic and hold back from taking that damned bottle and tossing it out the window.

He fidgets with buttons, i.e. oil life, cruise control, Tom-Tom GPS, and checks on the organization of his tidy cockpit. He also remembers to trim his fingernails at stoplights. Fidget, fidget, fidget.

We arrive at the shopping mall and drive aimlessly through its parking lot for ten minutes to find the ultimate pull-through space – one-quarter mile from the mall entrance. I think, “Whatever. It’s only 95 degrees. Let’s jog to the entrance.”

And, this is what makes it a real party. When he’s driving, it’s his choice of entertainment – either Scottish bagpipes, oldies, or static sports talk radio. Aaaaack!

I wholeheartedly admit I’m a terrible passenger. He has suggested I wear a blindfold. Not a bad idea!

By the way, I have always loved roller coasters, especially the wooden racers.


Photo Courtesy of the Internet

There have been a few rides I’ve taken and exited with weak knees and a pounding heart. In my head I was thinking, “Wow. What a ride. GLAD IT’S OVER.”

I didn’t name “him” here but ya’ll know who I’m talkin’ about ;-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Free Admission

Saturday was very warm and much too humid to breathe so I spent little time outdoors. For just thirty minutes that afternoon I wanted to practice with my camera. The critters made my head spin.


A skink got away,


Koi mouths were heard suctioning for food,


a cottontail paused for a moment,


and a squirrel showed me how clever she is.




The bugs loved the hot humidity but I wasn’t too thrilled with it.

Hummingbirds chitted and hummed and a chipmunk investigated behind the waterfall.

Then there was silence.

Not a bird or critter in sight,


except for one, far away in an observation tower.



They've been away for a long time. Now returning for regular meals.


I found feather evidence later.

Glad I missed the action, in a way.

One less Mourning Dove, I’m a little sad to say.

Why do so many of us rush out to the mall just to browse or go to a movie theatre, waste gasoline, and never step outside to notice what goes on right under our noses? It's all free admission for crying out loud!
For those who are suffering from the effects from Hurricane Ike, I wish you normalcy real soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Enough of Summer


Summer isn't waning here. Most of the annuals are showing signs of exhaustion as I am.


My days of summer sun-loving are gone. That's funny, since I’m truly a summer person at heart. It’s been my favorite season for decades and I still wear a palette of cool summer shades throughout the year…soft white, cocoa brown, mink brown, aquarium blue, powder gray, smoky gray, smoky rose, cameo pink, pastel violet, sky blue, French blue, good old navy, mauve, amethyst, grape, plum, aqua, banana yellow, ocean spray green. I’ve added shades of red to my wardrobe. Red speaks volumes when you're so inclined. Oh, and black for those damned puffy days. Does anyone remember “Beauty for All Seasons” parties in the 80’s? I do. And I still have that palette in my nightstand.

For years, I’d constantly seek out the summer sun, close my eyes and let it wrinkle my smiling face. Now I look for shady patches outdoors, in a hurry. Evening shade is the best, where I prefer to spend my summer.


Bring on autumn already! Socks, sweaters, soup.


The sun at high noon in November through March is sweet. The bees will return.


A stroll behind the campus surprised me. While tip-toeing around fire anthills the size of loaves of bread I found this. Odd…

I found some autumn colors there.


What a lovely green spider. A lifer ;-)

There are certain summer treasures I’d rather not let go…

We’re getting close to exit interviews. What a joy they are.

Anyone ready for cool breezes through open windows and blankets at night?