Cee’s Flower of the Day: Clematis

Sometimes I just can’t resist being a little naughty. Here’s the story:

It is 10:00 at night and I was going through my e-mail notices of blog posts of people I follow, picking and choosing because I really want to go to bed but don’t feel like getting up from my comfy chair and doing my nightly routine. I, by chance, decided to click on Cee’s FOTD for January 23 which was titled “Clematis.” A lovely purple one.

Today we had snow all day, a heavy snow. The type of snow that most people who live in Michigan get excited about, including me. This afternoon had a date with a neighbor who lives down the street who makes cards and I have been helping her because I love to do it but not enough to buy a few thousand dollar’s worth of supplies. Besides we love talking together and she bakes me a great treat – today it was brownies with a covering of peanut butter and chocolate. It was such a beautiful snow fall that I decided to walk to her house and take my camera along. As I was leaving my home I snapped some photos of my front garden, including a new clematis that I am training up a wall and over a railing.

Sorry, Cee, I couldn’t resist posting it in response but I know you will appreciate the humor of it all.

Find beauty in nature wherever you are and if you are in the north-eastern quarter of the U.S., please stay off the roads and stay warm.

Lens-Artist Challenge: Favorite Images of 2022

Usually I would use characteristics such as composition, subject, clarity, or some other photographic technique to choose my favorite images of 2022. But 2022 was a most unusual year. The images that I chose for John’s challenge are from the Naples Botanical Garden – a favorite place of mine and a place I didn’t get to visit during the later months of this year like I usually do. I am surprised how much I am grieving the changes in our Florida plans so I chose these to sooth my troubled heart.

The first two photos are of the lily ponds (upper and lower) in the Brazilian Garden – taken from slightly different perspectives.

And of course I had to include a water lily taken at the upper pond…

and a water iris taken at one of the other lily ponds. I am drawn in by the colors of both images.

I took a lot of photographs of the many flowers that grow throughout the garden, most of which I’m not familiar with as they are tropical or subtropical. I grew up in the northern part of the U.S. where I struggled to keep houseplants alive that grow with abandon out doors where we stay in Florida. This next flower always draws me in and I have taken many photographs but none felt right until this one. I am intrigued by how hard it is to capture the personality of flowers.

This year I also spent a lot of time photographing the orchids. I have a lot of favorites but the coloring on this one is a winner for me.

We went to the beach one evening because there had been really big waves during the previous 24 hours. And every time I’m taking photos at the beach, I take one or two of the Naples Pier. This is a very popular place for fishing (don’t need a license) and for strolling to watch dolphins, people, and the people who are fishing.

This photo of the pier is special because just a few months later the huge waves and storm serge of Hurricane Ian destroyed the structure from the building on the left to the end. Even the cement piling are gone. It will probably be a couple of years before it is rebuilt.

Thanks to the Naples Botanical Garden, however, I think I can see some light at the end of our rebuild tunnel. As you can tell, these beautiful glasses don’t provide a clear vision but it is good enough for me to feel some hope that the rebuilding of our condo will start to progress more quickly so we will be able to live in it again come next October.

I Missed One Last Chance: But Not Again

We spent the first two weeks of December in Florida doing lots of work setting things up so our contractor can start the rebuild of our condo after the destruction of hurricane Ian. My goal was to spend at least one morning walking around the Naples Botanical Garden seeing what is new this year and taking a few photos. It didn’t happen because there was just too much to do. I missed my chance at one last visit in 2022.

This subtropical growing zone needs constant attention to keep the grounds looking neat and tidy. There was a lot of cleaning up going on during this last 2022 visit to the garden, although I didn’t think of it as a last visit because I knew we would be down again in December. Little did I know that our lives would be consumed with planning our own clean-up and making sure the people who were hired by the condo association could do the really dirty grunt work of tearing out without throwing away things we could salvage.

I took a lot of photos that morning in the garden, and the photos that I enjoy most are the very small orchids that were on display in the orchid garden. I never posted these photos throughout the summer and fall and now Tina has given us a “last chance” to post photos that haven’t been used in other challenges this year.

These are very small orchids so I chose to take photos with the orchids in front of my hand for perspective. I think I have only taken one selfie in my life so maybe this photos will make it two selfies.

I love the small orchids and have spent lots of time working on photographing them in a way that captures both the delicacy of their flowers but also the strength of their presence in the garden. There are hundreds of orchids at any time in this small outside enclosure, and it would seem that the small orchids wouldn’t be seen – however they are placed so my eye sees them immediately. However, when photographed they do get lost within all the other foliage and orchids behind them. Luckily when I photograph them I know it won’t be my “last chance” because I return to try again within a week – after I have had a chance to analyze what didn’t work.

This next blue orchid bloomed for many weeks just outside the orchid garden and each week I would take a few photos of it as I was leaving the garden. The buds are so simple but once the flower bursts out it becomes very messy and difficult to photograph. I believe just one bloom is out in the next photo with a couple more starting to emerge behind the bloom. When two or more are out it is impossible to distinguish one from another.

Thank you, Tina, for this last chance to participate and share some photographs from a time and place that has given me good memories and photographs to sustain me through this trying time. Your “last chance” photos brought great joy to me.

White-Winged Crossbills Being Wild Way Up in a Pine Tree

I found them at the rotunda nestled in a large stand of pine trees (Ella Sharp Park in Jackson, Michigan). They were at the top of the trees where the cones were. The female has a dirty yellow color.

Fai Chan

A lot of things are coming together in my life – seem like coincidences but maybe not. As I was thinking about the Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Wildlife Close to Home, I thought about going back into files and finding wildlife photos from my drives through the Florida Everglades (close to my home there), or maybe looking for those wildlife photos I took in my Michigan back yard. Obviously I wasn’t enthused enough to do it.

Jim and I were watching the birds at the birdfeeders one day and he started talking about Crossbills and wondered if they ever come to feeders. He didn’t do any research because he knew who to ask – our card playing buddy Fia Chan who is a bird photographer extraordinaire. We played cards with Fia this week and Jim asked him about the bird and Fia had a photo on his cell phone along with an interesting story about how he took the photograph. He said they are very small birds and he needed his really, really, really long lens. He indicated that they are three or four inches long and the pine trees were huge 50 years ago when I took our kids sledding at the rotunda.

Several time over the many years that we have known the Chans I have suggested that he start a blog focused primarily on birding and bird photography. Every time he said no, he didn’t have the time and was concerned about his writing. This week when we were playing cards and Fia was my partner I suggested it again and told him I would edit his writing or even be a ghost writer. He smiled big and took me up on the offer. His writing is good, he can do it and he is smart – with lots of information to share about technique, bird characteristics and environment. He sent me an e-mail with more photos of the White-winged Crossbill and wrote this paragraph:

I thank you for offering to help me create and maintain a blog of bird pictures.  After 12 years, I am slowly losing interest in taking bird pictures.  Maybe I am getting lazy as I grow older.  I somehow have to rekindle my earlier enthusiasm and Jean (his wife) is going to help me. We are thinking of going to the Sault to look for overwintering snowy owls, pine grosbeaks, etc., boreal birds earlier next year.  We also are planning to go to Iowa to shoot bald eagles in mid-February. Fai Chan, November, 2022

I seem to be in the same spot as Fai. I just don’t seem to have the energy to go out and take photos even though I’ve seen hundreds of interesting potentials to explore with a camera as we traveled around our dot on the map. I also haven’t had to energy or enthusiasm to do many posts during the past year or so – and it seems to be getting worst. Maybe Fia and I can help each other regain our excitement and passion for going out to find new subjects to capture with our lenses. And I decided this morning that introducing you to Fia Chan and his wonderful bird photographs would be a good entry for this week’s challenge.

Fai and his wife have traveled long distances to find birds he would like to photograph for his massive collection. He has enough outstanding photographs to last him a lifetime, but I am sure once he starts he will want some new ones to show you and they will be out in the field again.

Thank you, Fai, for introducing us to the wildlife that is so high up in the pine trees that we would never have found them. When Fai starts posting I will make sure to provide a link so you can welcome him into our blogging community.

Just a Little Time Outside

Haven’t been out for many walks lately as I have been consumed by choosing products for our Florida rebuild after the storm surge. I also made the decision (in one of my less sane moments) to make quilted Christmas gifts for all family members that will gather at our house this year. I did however walk down our short drive to take some photos of the gorgeous Maple tree in the side yard when it was at its most colorful.

The leaves have since fallen and we have what seems like an early snow on the ground. It was challenging for Jim to get the leaves raked and I stopped myself from helping because the raking and bending would have inflamed the arthritis in my lower back. Our son came to help with the second raking but there were still leaves that hadn’t fallen. Then we got the best help of all – we had a couple of days of very strong winds – like rattle the rafters strong – and we looked out and all the rest of the leaves were gone. We smiled big. It seems like one of the greatest challenges of reaching old age is to recognize that we can no longer do many of the things we used to do and to (gasp) let someone help us when we can do it perfectly well ourselves.

This post was inspired by Becky’s November Squares theme Walking Squares. It’s a nice theme, Becky.