Thursday, May 30, 2019

What Was the Question?

Whether to talk (write) or not, that is the question. Some of the bloggers I read apologize for their political comments when they get to a place in their thoughts where frustration and amazement make them "bloviate". I am of the opinion that as long as you indicate where the post is going, the readers can avoid reading or get involved. It is your blog after all. I am a strong advocate for free speech. How can I consider all sides of an argument if most of one side opts out of participating?

But, having said that you must also honor those who disagree with you in your comments.  BUT only rational disagreement.  Name calling reflects the immaturity of the commenter and does not move the conversation toward a meeting or even changing of the minds.

While I do not like the polarization that seems to be a global disease these days, I am not a fan of retreating into a private world forever and pretending it will all work itself out.

Last week we attended a dinner with friends.  We have known them a few years and they are the kind of people who come from "good stock."  The wife grew up on a farm in a large family and has all the strong skills that were needed and which served her well when she married a man in the Air Force and had most of her life to mold into that dynamic career of his.  Military wives rarely get choices in where they live and whether they can have a career. This is especially true if they are married to a man who becomes a three-star General in the Air Force. 

This couple did many amazing things and still do!  They took in military foster children and saved lives.  They had three beautiful children of their own.  She, like us, loves gardening and was featured in the magazine Fine Gardening a few years ago.

Where am I going with this?   Prior to the dinner on their lovely patio, my husband was drifting into politics, as he sometimes does because he loves this country, he loves the environment and he is depressed at how we are treating both.

I came in on the middle of the conversation where the former Lieutenant General said something very calmly to the effect that he learned while in the military to follow orders and stay out of politics and he was keeping that model.  The conversation moved onto something else.

I was thinking that the retired military should not opt out of commenting on politics.  They risked their lives and the lives of others for this country and certainly should be clearly spoken and listened to as they have an important perspective on so many issues.  He is no longer on active duty.  I do realize that he may feel he could drift into areas of security that cannot be discussed.  I respect his opinion to stay out of the arguments and discussions, but I am so glad that many Generals and Admirals, etc. are clear where they stand and feel free to speak out when the time warrants.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Adding a Little Clarity

Below are two photos which had the same editing as the photos in the prior post. The second photo below got the one additional tweak and since this is architecture I am sure you will see what I was working toward. The first photo in the prior post was not the best subject for my examples and I apologize for my laziness in rapidly selecting it. These two below (back to the book barn) are much clearer in the edited changes.

As I wrote, most photographers use the first version, but I tend to favor the second. It avoids the lens distortion. It makes the building more static and not so energetic. What I did was edit the perspective making the vertical lines fit an over imposed grid in the software.

Do you have a preference? 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

For the Anal Retentive

Below are two photos that have been manipulated in Photoshop and Topaz Studio...two software packages for photography.  This photo was taken at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.  The photos are slightly different as one received one last change that I sometimes implement, except I have noticed that professional photographers do not usually do this. Do you have a preference between the two? I will tell you in the next post what was done if you do not figure it out or if you see no real difference.  There are pros and cons for each treatment, I guess.

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Very Very Quick Tour

I did not post this on Facebook because these things can be taken as bragging or "my life it greater than yours." I do not know my bloggers personally---at least most of them---so I can share without feeling I am bragging. I am just sharing my fun weekend. Along with the book store tour I got this below.

It is a gardening wonder.  The heavy canvas bag contained, two pairs of garden gloves, hand lotion, sunscreen, three heavy-duty garden tools. a pair of really good boots, a garden calendar, a blank journal to write about my garden and a bottle of nice white wine (which is already gone...).

We also visited the famous Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania established by the wealthy Pierre S. du Pont of chemistry fame.  "By the mid-1930s, Longwood had grown from the original 202 acres to 926 due to Pierre’s purchase of 25 contiguous properties over the years."  A well-funded trust was left behind when du Pont passed on to keep the gardens going much as they are today.

I will post just a few photos below (having taken over 200), for those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit this garden.  The photos just capture a hint of the variety and beauty of the gardens.

We had a picnic beforehand packed by my daughter.  It was in a large and well-shaded picnic area just outside the garden gates.

The wide open spaces gave my grandson a chance to show off his skills.  He landed upright on the opposite side without touching the table!

The above photo was missing my youngest grandson who was finishing a sports game and arrived later.

The conservatory was large and beautiful.

My peonies were almost done and because this was a climate range or two cooler, the peonies were wonderful.

Above was the Italian garden area.  So much more I could show you, but this will have to do.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Died and Gone to Heaven

The above title is pretty much what I posted on Facebook the other day with one of the photos below to enhance. This past weekend my family took me on a two-day adventure for a belated birthday. We went to a major garden, a nice restaurant, an overnight at a small hotel, a state park and then finished with a book barn! The grands were so good about not being bored because these were not the types of activities they find fun or interesting...except for being out of doors! Photos on the family may be to follow in another post.

Above is the Baldwin Book Barn in Chester County in Pennsylvania. This independent book store was founded in 1946 by the Baldwin family.  It is located in a five-story barn built in 1822 which continues to have all the charm of that history.  

Part of the barn was home to the Baldwins for years.

The store contains thousands and thousands of books: used, really old, first editions, new books, those signed by the author, etc.  It is a paradise for some of us and was truly a step back in time when I entered the front door!

There are narrow hallways and tuckaway rooms, tiny wooden stairways that take you up to mysterious corners and more rooms covering the four stories of the barn with plenty of chairs everywhere to sit, catch your breath, and read!

Two elderly folks greeted us with exceptional warmth and charm.  It was as if you were visiting your grandparents!  

Books are EVERYWHERE including some grouped in grocery bags on the main floor.  Those in grocery bags have been priced but not yet shelved and rest in corners here and there.  Some prices were only 4 or 5 dollars with others much more.

There are expensive pricey first editions that you can actually hold in your hand and smell the leather covers and peruse.  There were very old books in another area with inscriptions on their flyleaf telling the history of the gifting of the book on long ago Christmases.  My son found one inscribed in 1809!

There are children's books for the grands to look at although it is not a place for toddlers.  We stayed only about 20 minutes due to time constraints, but I got four books and hubby got 2 and we tried not to spend too many dollars.

The book barn is located in a lovely rural area in the Brandywine district among the open lawn and woods.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Do You Have a Healthy Personality?

There was a cartoon going the rounds on FB showing a women talking on the phone responding to cancellation of some social or volunteer event. She was sad, on the phone, that it had to be canceled and the minute she hung up she was doing the happy dance and joyful that she had no plans for that weekend. I can relate.

This prior week we have had an endless parade of workers ( washing the deck and house, painting the front of the house, cutting back tree branches in the woods that are moving into the yard, working with our garden helper that I wrote about previously who is piecing his life together and who now may have a full-time job and move on...).

I am the person, as I have written many times before, that might not leave the house for days or even weeks unless I ran out of food. Thankfully I am married to a social butterfly who goes crazy if he has not got every other day scheduled for some event or project or meet-up.  Thus, I get thrown into some of his adventures whether I like it or not. It is good for me, I know, and I must fight my nature to be a hermit.

I also have been blessed with family activities that are wonderfully draining.  This past weekend, the Sunday was spent with my daughter and her family celebrating Mother's Day with hanging out and then dinner out. 

Midweek was our gardener meeting preceded by a lecture on how to propagate native seeds and followed by scheduling with others on upcoming activities and booths.   Hubby has managed to schedule two activities on the same Saturday, so guess who has to fill in for him?

At the end of this week I am assisting with two high school classes on a presentation on the "Living Reef Action Campaign" which means more oyster talks and me working a computer and helping hubby think on his feet.

This coming weekend is another full two days with my beautiful children and grandchildren at Longwood Gardens and a tour of a mushroom farm, and a picnic with some cooperating weather, and whatever else outside Philadelphia as a belated celebration of my birthday!  (All I asked for was a spring picnic,  but they went a bit overboard.)

Only one oyster class next week, and I am hoping to avoid it.  

I retreat and revive with my photographs and photo-painting, taking an online class or two, and reading three four books at one time:  " The  Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish which is  thus far intriguing; Cowboys are My Weakness by Pam Houston which is raw and ready and which I purchased because I found her non-fiction Deep Creek Finding Hope in the High Country so beautifully sad and compelling allowing me to virtually visit my beloved Colorado; and now just starting to read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.  In the last case, I am reading the actual book which is beautifully put together and formatted.  I guess it is a 30-year-old classic, but glad I finally found it.

Actually, in my schizophrenic way, I  also am also at times listening to "Innocents Abroad" by Samuel Clemens (Twain) through LibrVox (free public domain audio books) and finding that he was never held back by needing to be politically correct.  

Maybe I am NOT an introvert...maybe I just have a very short attention span with a motor that is always idling and that is why I need to retreat from others!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Still Life

One of my favorites in the flower family, and I have many favorites, is the peony. My peonies open their huge fancy blooms in May and struggle to remain upright in the spring rains, even with my careful fence supports, and thus I frequently cut their heavy, richly scented heads and put them in a vase before they fall into wet clumps on the ground. They are old world beautiful and certainly lend themselves to bouquets and art.  Some can live for hundreds of years and the petals are edible!  For centuries peonies have been used in still life paintings. I am not there yet with photography...but I keep trying.

The original

Too rich in color for my taste.

Sunday, May 12, 2019


The mothers in my neighborhood are singing arias with elaborate trills.  They are resting in the early gray dawn of a rainy day shaking the drops of water from their feathers and getting ready for the marathon harvesting of insects to feed their young.  

I am hoping that you are having a loving and lovely Mother's Day. When this day arrives I tend to feel "less than". While my mother was not an abusive person, except when she got mad and did not talk to us for days, she was overwhelmed with five children, and as I became an adult and mother on my own, I realized why we did not have that close relationship pictured on cards and in movies. Her days were long and hard and we never could afford a babysitter. She was not close to any of the other mothers that we knew and that must have made it harder facing challenges on her on. She was pathological about having a clean house, even locking us outside for the day while she cleaned. She made it clear that she thought I was too full of myself, and perhaps I was. But perhaps I just needed someone to stand up for me as the eldest and go-to babysitter, and that was me.

I also feel dismayed on these days knowing there are people (my husband) who were very close to their mothers and miss that love and attention every single day. They are sad knowing they will never see their mother again. Some others have lost their mother tragically early as a former colleague of mine to ugly cancer.

I also feel dismayed on these days for those mothers that have lost a child and will not get that phone call or Mother's Day card on this day.  This day is a sad reminder for them.

So, please enjoy your day, but also remember for many this is a day to just get through, and if you know someone getting through this day, give them a call and talk about your friendship and how much they mean to you.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Engines That Idle Rather Than Rust

"Its such as you learn my mind! You appear to grasp so much about this, such as you wrote the e-book in it or something. I believe that you just can do with some p.c. to force the message home a bit, however other than that, that is great blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back."

I usually delete the dozen or so comments like the one above. They always come from "Anonymous" who reads my blog pretty often and is full of praise in broken English. Anonymous does not have an interesting blog of their own, though. They usually link to some odd ad for products I do not need or links to some place in India for soldiers on R&R.  But I do have to admit they are faithful commenters.

I have not been blogging because I have been busy with the annual plant sale which is our biggest fundraiser each year.  While it only lasts half a day there is almost a full week of prep.  We sell our plants at really low prices, and we make around 5K.  My Solomon's Seal went pretty fast as did my Hellebores and my toad lilies.  Next year I will dig up the spreading turtle head (Chelone glabra) and my obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) which is in the mint family and spreads -  vociferously-mine are the traditional white blossoms.

This year the exhaustion of three days of prep and plant moving and the half day on my feet talking to strangers plant lovers truly exhausted me.  In my early 70's now, I do begin to feel the wear and tear on both body and mind as the day wears on. We are all old-timers and I could see the younger of us with her recent knee replacement hobbling about, and the slightly older gal who had back surgery last month keeping her posture straight, and the older of us who has arthritis in her back finding places to sit every once in a while.

I also went on an all-day meadow exploration trip just a few days before (which I may write about).  This is a planned and planted meadow funded through a consortium, which is the new push to re-create more natural habitats on fallow farmlands for animals and insects and natural plants.  I was with a group of naturalists and master gardeners.  We talked the hour and a half ride to the meadow and the hour and a half ride back home.  As an introvert, this was like running a marathon for me!  I enjoyed the whole thing immensely,  but my brain and body completely shut down when I get home and I could not even find the energy to talk to my husband!

With all this activity I have been sleeping a little better, but it is more intense with lots of confusing dreams.  Last night I was in France buying tickets to a play and later returned to enter the play only to find I was exactly one minute late and the door shut in my face.  I was very angry and saying some nasty things about the French which embarrassed my husband and then I got on a train waiting for him to catch up only to find I was on the wrong train heading to far north France and not just the other side of the city to our hotel!  I was more exhausted and angry in the dream than frightened.

I do not think it is fair that my dreams are just as exhausting as my days.  Here is hoping your spring is now like the gentle blossoms that nod in the cool breezes...not a marathon!