30 May 2013

The Surprises of Spring

Bleeding Heart
One of the joys of moving into a new home that has been around for a while is discovering all the lovely plants left behind by former owners!  We discovered these bleeding hearts growing in a shady corner under the aspen trees a couple of days ago!  I've always wanted to grow them, but never had much success, so I'm delighted to find these here!

Unknown but sweet!
These are tiny little flowers only about 1/2" across, but sure are lovely.  I have no idea what they are, but will have to get out the perennial books and see if I can figure them out!

Peony Bud
Other flowers I've never grown but always wanted to, are peonies!  Wonderful to discover that we have three clumps of them growing with big fat buds on them!

Centaurea montana
Tucked in amongst one clump of peonies, I found the blue flowers of Centaurea Montana or perennial bachelor button growing.  I'll have to see if I can move them to a better location so they aren't hidden among the peony leaves!

Bridal Veil Spirea
In the back yard there are several Bridal Veil Spirea bushes with waving wands of white blossoms!  I've loved these since I was a little girl and my mother planted them along side a fence where I remember being entranced by their fountains of white flowers!

Virginia Creeper
Also under the aspen trees, we found lots of Virginia Creeper.  I love how the leaves turn crimson in the autumn, so will try to get rid of the other plants that are stifling the creeper right now.  I'd love to have it grow up over the side of my study!

Dandelion
While dandelions aren't necessarily a welcome surprise, they are abundant!  And when looked at closely thru the macro lens, I never fail to be captivated by their beautiful patterning.  They really are exquisite.

Daisy seedlings
Inside, there are flats of seedlings sprouting and getting ready to be separated and transferred up to larger containers.  There are daisies, delphinium, canterbury bells and foxgloves!

Garden before
In the back yard, we've been working hard on the garden area.  This is what it looked like when we moved in last fall.  Overgrown, full of junk (old toys, rotting lawn furniture, etc.), trees attempting to take root and weeds so thick you couldn't see the ground.

Garden After
My two youngest boys put in a lot of work removing all the junk, digging out the Chinese elm trees that had gotten far too established and the raspberry canes run rampant.  In the process, they discovered the sprinkler system was in terrible shape, the lines having been cut and punctured in several locations, so that has been removed as well.  Unfortunately, we have to get it fixed before the rest of the sprinkler system in the back yard will work!

Garden Growing
The garden beds aren't huge, only about 8 foot square, so I've been trying to make the most of the space while doing something fun with it.  This is the spring bed, filled with cabbages, red onions, radishes, carrots, swiss chard and peas.  There are a few herbs on the right as well as a nice rhubarb plant.  I'd like to put some nice tuteurs in the center with sweet peas growing up them eventually.

The other bed has yellow onions and will have a couple of tomatoes, cucumbers and some squash, which I need to get planted soon!

After all those years of living in an apartment and attempting to garden in pots, I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be able to play in the dirt for real once again!  I love watching things grow and take shape all around the yard.  So much is over grown and the grass has invaded all the flower beds, requiring complete renovation.  But we'll get there, one bed at a time!

20 May 2013

Creating Books

My England Book of Memories
A while back, I shared about making a Blurb book about my week on the Queen Mary 2.  I recently finished one on my time in England and received it in the mail this past week!  It is so thrilling to see the books with my journal entries, blog posts and photographs all in one place!

My England Book of Memories
Even the back of the books came out gorgeous!  I must admit that choosing just the right photos for the covers out of thousands (over 11,000 were taken on this trip!) of photos was a challenge.  The ones that made the cut were photos that I felt captured the essence of each segment of my journey.

My England Book of Memories
In the books, I've included the entries from my daily journal that I kept and included lots of my favorite photos, including photos of many of the meals I ate!

My England Book of Memories
There are pages about the different places I stayed.

My England Book of Memories
And some spreads of groups of things that I found my self taking photographs of over and over throughout the trip!

I am working on one more book about this trip that will cover Scotland and London.  While the books are on the expensive side, when I figured out the cost of printing photos and putting them in albums, it actually works out fairly well.  And being able to include my journal entries and blog posts all together makes it such a complete book of memories!  I'm very happy with them!

The Teton Trips
I've also been working on another set of books.  Among the things I inherited from my parents were their large collection of slides and photographs taken throughout the years.  It's actually a bit daunting to look at and try to figure out how to manage all of it.  A while back, I invested in and Epson V500 scanner, which can scan slides and negatives.  I've been scanning many of the slides so that we can actually look at and enjoy the pictures.

Triggered by an upcoming trip, I decided to scan all of my parents slides of two trips that they took to Grand Teton National Park in the early 1960's.  It's fun to have these memories of my folks and to see the trips through their eyes.  I've made it into a book, which I'll be able to share with family and friends of theirs that are interested.  If you go to Blurb, you can see a preview of the book here!

18 May 2013

Springtime in the Rockies

Wild Turkey in the Woods
With a lovely day forecast, we headed for Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday.  Our first stop was Endo Valley.  We saw this wild turkey wandering among the trees.

Clear Waters
The creek flowing through Endo Valley is tinged golden with peat.  It's flowing fairly full with the snowmelt.  We were actually surprised at how little snow there was at this elevation.

Melting Snowbank
But as we headed up Trail Ridge Road, we started to see snowbanks.

View from Rainbow Corner
At Rainbow Curve, the road is closed.  Beyond this point they are still plowing the roads!  I've heard reports of drifts over 15 feet tall and yesterday the park posted a photo on their Facebook page of the Alpine Visitor Center still buried in snow!  From Rainbow Curve, you can see Horseshoe Park (in the distance) far below as well as the Alluvial Fan (on the left) from the Lawn Lake flood that happened in 1982.  Endo Valley is out of view to the left.  On the right, you can see Trail Ridge Road snaking up the mountain.

Gray Jay
At Rainbow Curve there were many Grey Jays watching for handouts from visitors.  Though feeding the animals is strictly forbidden, they must still get their fair share as they keep trying!

May I have some please?
This little Colorado Least Chipmunk has found a snack and the little Junco seems to be asking to share!

Moose on Bear Lake Road
Then we headed up the Bear Lake Road.  It has been undergoing construction for a couple of years now, so we didn't anticipate seeing much wildlife, so were vastly surprised to come around a corner and see this moose!  I've never seen the moose on the east side of the park.  To get here, it had to cross over the continental divide, which would be quite a journey!  The rangers we talked to said there is a small group of them that came over a couple of years ago.  What a treat to see!

Picnic by the lake
Mid-day, we stopped for lunch in the Sprague Lake area.  We had a prime spot next to the beaver pond.  Such a gorgeous day!  This is my daughter Jessie and her fiance David.

Beaver Pond Dam
Though this beaver pond is now abandoned, it remains strong and provides a lovely still pond.  The sound of the water burbling through it is so peaceful.

Sprague Lake
After lunch, we enjoyed a hike around the lake and had a lovely view towards the snowy peaks.  We watched an Osprey take a plummeting dive into the lake after a fish from this spot.

Sprague Lake Trail
It's a lovely spot, and an easy 1/2 mile walk.

Fern Lake Trailhead Road - Burn area
The afternoon found us in Moraine Park where we headed back towards one of my favorite areas.  Late last fall, the Fern Lake Fire burned through this area removing a large number of trees and much of the undergrowth, leaving it very open.  With the spring snow melt, the grass is coming in green and lush.  It will be interesting to watch this area rejuvenate after the fire.

Moraine Park Creek
The fire also burned through much of Moraine Park.  Along here, there used to be massive stands of willow that are now gone.  Once again, the fresh green grass is brilliant.  Really gorgeous.  The creek is running full as it winds across the valley floor!  A beautiful end to a lovely day!

12 May 2013

A Happy Mother's Day!

Glenmere Park
One of the things I've missed the most since I've gone back to working nights, is rising with the sun each morning.  There is something so peaceful about the early morning and seeing the first rays of sun across the landscape fills me with joy.  When I have more than a couple of nights off, I try to switch my schedule back, but still find myself sleeping the morning away most of the time.  But on this glorious Mother's Day morning, I was up with the sun and watched the red glow of sunrise through the trees.  It wasn't long and the day called me out for a walk through the nearby park.  

Glenmere Pond & Shelter
What a beautiful morning!  A sheen of dew across the grass, the warmth of the early morning sun and the cool air lingering from night!  The reflective light across the pond was lovely!

Island in the Pond
The little island in the pond was filled with birds!

Snowy Egret
There were snowy egrets ~ brilliant white in the morning sunlight.

Pelican with Cormorant Fleet
On the water, the American Pelicans were surrounded by fleets of Double Crested Cormorants.  I love how the cormorants all have their beaks in the air as if awaiting something special!
Cormorants
When at rest, the cormorants spread their wings out in an imposing posture to let their wings dry.

Black Crowned Night Heron
But it was the amazing number of Black Crowned Night Herons that really caught my attention!  I've never seen so many in one place together.  They can look rather ominous with a hunched pose and a brilliant reddish eye, but then one notices their long white streamer feathers spreading down their back!

Lower Pond at Glenmere
After watching the birds for a good hour, I completed my walk by circling the lower pond.  It was still as a mirror, completely unruffled.

Reflections at Glenmere
From some angles, the trees reflected in the water appeared almost more real than the real trees!  What a gorgeous, beautiful morning!  

Crows
As you know, I've been watching the owlet in the neighboring tree, and this morning, I saw that it must have flown the nest in the past day as the nest is empty for the first time in weeks.  A few days ago, the crows were circling this pine tree and heckling one of the adult owls that was resting in it.  The crows circled and made an enormous racket, making sure that everyone in the vicinity knew that there was an owl in the tree!

Chipping Sparrow
This lovely little chipping sparrow is the latest new bird to visit our yard!  There is a nice little flock that comes to visit!

Spring Hail
Yesterday we had a spring hail storm.  The clouds were black overhead with a constant rumble of thunder far overhead.  Then a subtle roaring sound started and I knew hail was on it's way.  From the intensity of it, I thought it might be a devastating storm, but at least in my area, this was as bad as it got. The poor forsythia bush had been ready to burst into bloom before last weeks snowstorm and hard freeze.  It's still managing a few blossoms, but I'm sure it's a pale shadow of what could have been!

Spring Leaves
All around the yard, the leaves are bursting out!  It's so wonderful to see them!

New Aspen Leaves
Especially the fresh new leaves of the aspen!  Those little round leaves with their red stems are such happy things!

My Family
How grateful I am on this beautiful Mother's Day morning to have such a wonderful family of children to be a mother to!  What a gift it is!

Suzi Plooster ~ Birding
And in looking back at my own mother, it seems fitting to have started off this Mother's Day watching the birds, which was her favorite thing in all the world to do.  How she would have loved to have been out there with me!

02 May 2013

May Day Snow Flowers
May Day arrived with snow flowers rather than baskets of spring blooms.  

May Day Squirrel
Even the squirrels seemed a bit bewildered that we had yet more snow this spring.  

May Snow 1978 
But snow in May is not unheard of in Colorado.  This photo of me shoveling snow is from 1978 when we had 19" of snow in the middle of May!  I was much younger and skinnier in those days!  

Colorado Blue Sky
How glad I was to see that bright Colorado blue sky this morning!  Just gorgeous! 

Great Horned Owlet
The owlet in the neighbor's tree is growing and starting to get some new facial feathers!  

First leaves of Spring
And the first leaves of spring have officially arrived!  The aspen trees in my yard seem to have appreciated this latest bit of snow as they have all opened their fresh new leaves this morning!  

As it is National Day of Prayer today, I wanted to leave you with these prayers from "Celtic Prayers of Iona" by J. Philip Newell.  They seemed appropriate to me with all the strife we have experienced within this past year in our nation and around the world. 

O Christ of the poor and the yearning
Kindle in my heart within
A flame of love for my neighbor,
For my foe, for my friend,
for my kindred all.
From the humblest thing that lives
To the Name that is highest of all
Kindle in my heart within
A flame of love. 

Watch now O Christ 
With those who are weary 
or wandering
or weeping this night.
guide them to a house 
of your peace
And lead me to be caring 
for their tears.

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