Monday, March 22, 2010

Harbingers of Spring

Swaying in the March winds are the harbingers of spring in the Ozarks: Yellow and Purple Crocus, Field and hybrid Daffodils, Dandelions, Grape Hyacinths, giant Hyacinths, budding Redbuds and Japonicas (quince), Forsynthias, creeping Periwinkle, signs of Tulips ready to bloom, the clumps of green Naked Lady leaves, and Snow Lilies.

Snow Lilies. Somebody is pulling my leg or turning Arkansan folk lore into Texan Tall Tales.

I never heard of 'em until I moved to Arkansas. And herein lies today's story--just one of those re-educational moments of my conversion from Texan to Arkansan.

We moved to Arkansas in May, 1980. We set up house, literally; we bought and placed a double-wide manufactured home on a residential lot in our small town, population at the time about 1000.

During the next few early years we spent time pursuing jobs, friends, church, etc. In that pursuit, there was a proverbial search for a hairdresser who was willing to deal with my contrary hair [see posts,
Part 1 and Part 2]. In those years I only knew it was contrary and obstinent, but did not know the reason which I learned in 2000 was Cherokee in origin.

A friendly neighbor from whom we purchased our lot, suggested a hairdresser whose husband was a plumber she used.

Pity on her--I made the usual appointment, taking the name of the permanent and exact details of application from my former hairdresser, who, no doubt was glad I moved on.

The local hairdresser and I seemed to share a lot in common and became fast friends--best friends (BF). She had lived in our tiny town long before me and knew EVERYBODY, and doubt the beauty shop clientele provided much information, whether reliable or not.

This is BF's story. [I would have invited her to personally tell it as she is a journalist, but she is suffering a bone spur in her shoulder making typing very painful.]

BF had an interesting spring flower blooming along with Daffodils and other spring growth. These were beautiful little bell-shaped, white flowers. She said these flowers were on her property when they moved in. The flower did not appear to be a native field flower.

When BF moved to our little town from Illinois, many natives still lived in the town and surrounding area. One such native (Mrs. HASX) lived nearby and patronized BF's beauty shop.

One spring day Mrs. X had a hair appointment. BF and Mrs. X chatted about lots of things including flowers. BF asked Mrs. X, if she knew the name of the little white flowers which were on the property when purchased and which faithfully reappear in early spring.

Now the story becomes Mrs. X's story. "Oh, those are snow lilies," she exclaimed.

As is common among farmers and gardeners, Mrs. X regaled an observation, ol' wive's tale, local tale, legend, superstition or simply a weather prediction that may be more reliable than weather forecast--but nevertheless I can attest it is true.

She said when the snow lilies bloom, it has to snow on the blooms at least one time, and then winter is over! It may only be one snowflake, but it HAS TO OCCUR!

Later BF found out snow lilies were known as Summer Snow Flakes, a slight misnomer, as there is not a bit of the snow lily left by summer.

Sunday March 21, after days of near perfect 70 degree weather, on the second day of spring with the snow lilies, a.k.a. Summer Snow Flake, in full bloom, it snowed on the snow lily, as it has every spring for the 30 years (in May) that I have lived here.

Once this yearly phenomenon occurs, it has never snowed again later in spring of that year. We await this year's prediction of spring, to see if 'history repeats itself!' Stay tuned!

When my husband, a city worker, was plowing snow, he and others, who knew of this phenomen of a harbinger of spring, cursed and threatened removal of the little charmers.

Thus I check the status of the snow lilies every spring. How can I doubt Mother Nature?

[Photo: supplied by BF, may have been taken by her husband.]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Do Not Keep Count

Late one night last week when I could not sleep, I watched a heart-warming dog (of course) story on Animal Planet. Since I was drifting in and out of sleepdom, I do not remember the title or even the entire story.

But the last four words of the story hit me, as to why we animal lovers, especially dogs, dote on our pets.

The man in the story was summarizing his passion for his dog(s), and mentioned their devotion and unconditional love of their owners, no matter how we fail: we may forget to feed them, ignore them, even take anger out on them. "They do not keep count!"

What a simple description of how we should treat each other. Almost every moral and religious law has a similar concept, but we, somehow, miss the boat.

I will be absent a lot the next 2-3 weeks, traveling. May drop in as opportunity may present itself.

Thursday, March 11, 2010



In February Arkansas Patti of
The New Sixty and her wonder dog, Mighty, were interviewed for an appearance on Coffee with a Canine. Arkansas Patti mentioned my current canine prima donna, Luckie, to Coffee with a Canine author, Marshal Zeringue who requested an interview with Luckie and me.

Sensing an opportunity for a largess of canine treats, Foodaholic Luckie instantly agreed we should accept the invitation. Photographing Luckie is a "catch me if you can" project. However, I have an archive of Luckie photos from which to choose.

Thanks to Arkansas Patti for the "recommend" and Mighty's interview is here. Thanks for the fun blog and interview are in order for Marshal, who takes the information and assembles it in a coherent tribute to canines and their owners.

Luckie's interview is posted
here. She is really vain and hope she gets a lot of "hits" for Coffee with A Canine. She wants to set a record. HA! She thinks she is the only dog on the block. I sincerely hope you pay a visit to the blog.

As a long-time dog lover and owner, I love to read other dog lovers' experiences. This fun blog regularly posts heartwarming, cozy intimate stories of dogs and their owners. The blog made my blog list immediately after the first story I read. I hope it makes yours, too!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is it Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary?

On March 10, 2009 I decided to enter the blogosphere with an entry Luckie and All Our Dogs.

Today, 190 posts later, I am amazed to still be puttering at my 'puter.

I've accumulated a lot of blogger buddies and friends, even met one blogger through a mutual interest in Naked Lady flower bulbs. She and her daughter drove 3 hours from Central Arkansas to Northern Arkansas to visit me. We all had a great time.

Blogging has provided me the opportunity to recall and record memories I had stored in the farthest recesses of my memory. Some stories were childhood tales of growing up in a loving but very conservative home. Other stories were adventures after marriage. But of course my love of dogs is an undercurrent to the entire blog.

Luckie is about 9-10 years old. She is showing signs of age. She is queen of the house; we are her pages, translate-servants.

Since we don't know her exact age, we designated the day we brought her home as her birthday, July 30, I believe. But everyday is birthday to her. She is a happy creature since she came to live with us. And so are we!

Everyone enjoy this short post! I seem to be a tad windy. Today is a treat!

Monday, March 08, 2010

f-Stop Fun - Foto Friday on Monday

In an earlier post about my cantankerous lawn windmills, I mentioned some photos could use a little f-stop magic.

I try to post photos and related information on Fridays, but there are multiple exceptions like thie past week: (1) we are concerned with family situations, hence the post about Sisters, and (2) the weather did not provide satisfactory conditions for me to venture outdoors, even though I had researched and set my camera in a certain mode.

Since I don't know who will be reading this post or their knowledge of camera jargon, here is a simplistic overview of f-stops.

A f-stop, otherwise called aperture, is the size the lense opens at any given setting. the numbers on your lense, or displayed in some of your settings; typical numbers are 2.8, 3.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22. The lower the number the wider the opening.
The "f" stands for fraction and the number is related to length of the lens.

This opening, as well as exposure (time the lens is opened) plays a part in focus and depth of field (how much of total picture is in focus and sharp).

I am not going any further, because I don't know how sophisticated one's camera is. I have a Nikon with an exchangeable zoom lens allowing maximum control with a given lens/camera.

I also have a Canon A-1000 IS so-called point and shoot camera, but it has far more features than AUTO. Although f-stops are not specifically set, some modes like Macro use openings and exposures that emulate wide lens openings. I have made some darn good pictures with the Canon.

[Now you advanced amateur and professional photographers, don't jump all over me for oversimplifying a complicated subject. It is hard to isolate and explain one feature which is so interrelated with 3-4 features. I am merely trying to explain how to blur a busy unwanted background,]

Since I have not played around with settings in quite awhile, I went outside Saturday's spring-like day of 63 degrees with little wind, to PLAY, so don't look for any beauties, just playing.

The stump and the owl are the best examples of selective f-stop for background control. Usually this means the main subject, usually in the very near foreground, [owl or stump] is in sharp focus and the background is blurred, even unrecognizable. In these two pictures, the backgrounds are sufficiently blurred that the eye goes directly to the subject.

This little trick is a way to lead the eye into and out of a picture. It is best in the owl photo [f5, 1/60, 86mm] as the eye focuses immediately on the owl into the picture and out following the light straw...hmmm ...dead weeds.The Owl is a nearly "Straight Out of the Camera." I adjusted contrast on it; no crop, etc.

The stump [f5.3, 1/500, 200mm] is a matter of what is focused and what is not. I decided to do a little cropping, too--may have done too much, as I like the top rail of the fence leading the eye out of the photo....decisions, decisions, decisions!

The spring leaves of the Naked Lady [f5,3, 1/500, 200mm]at first looks like a macro, but it is not. It is taken by the telephoto zoom. This is a true "Straight Out of the Camera" shot.

The flag photo [f4.9, 1/500, 78mm] and the ubiquitous windmills are not very good examples of f-stop magic. They failed because of several factors-- too long and complicated to explain.

I like the back-lit flag. I cropped the photo, but am intrigued by the moss on that big tree we are trying to salvage from the Great 1000 Year Ice storm. I don't remember that much moss--maybe some kind of color aberration.

The windmills [f4.2, 1/150,35mm] appear to like each other today, but otherwise this is a lousy [cropped] photo. I feel like my eyes are splitting between the two windmills; I'm staring at a brown blank wall! Yuck!

I almost forgot the messy room! This room was so bad my housecleaner said I had to do something with it before she attempted to clean it. Sounds bad, doesn't it?

The messy boxes and chair is all I have to finish in the room which had boxes and STUFF piled everywhere. I hope she is elated this week. It has taken me three weeks.

Perspective and f-stop + focus bring attention to the mess. Note: photos on wall are blurred. That huge plastic bag on the door knob? I have overfilled and emptied it 4 times with mostly papers and shredded materials.

For those persons interested in the hieroglyphics I provided with some of the photos, I obtained the mumbo-jumbo from the EXIF info attached to the photos. Some info doesn't seem quite right but after all the camera is a computer, and computers don't make mistakes! Right???

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Intertwining Sisterhood

The family of sisterhood is an interesting concept of bonding via sibling, marriage or friendship. My first sister, like myself, was a sibling in my adoptive family. I have one biological sister I did not meet until I was nearly 61. I have three sister-in-laws . I have 2-3 friends whom I consider sisters. I have a niece whom I place in the same category.

If you've read the undercurrent of my blog, I am not a tightly bound to family and friends person--not sure why--but it has been my persona since early childhood. I have love and care for everyone, but my expression is not always evident.

All these "sisters," like myself, are aging and dealing with the problems associated with that phase of life.

Right now, some of these sisters are dealing with some of life's more serious tribulations.

One sister-in-law is dealing with a husband with terminal cancer.

Two sister-in-laws are dealing with their own aging, and their husband's deteriorating health; one is the wife of my brother.

Another sister is grieving over the death of an older brother. She also has some nagging physical problems, including a heart anomaly.

One sister is facing what we hope is gall-bladder surgery, but her surgeon suspects something else is wrong, based on severely elevated blood levels.

One sister-friend, still employed, is dealing with her husband's and her aging processes.

Another sister-friend I've known since the second grade. We lose track of each other but when we find each other, it is as if we've never been separated. She married her high-school sweetheart late in life; he died after only two years of marriage. Right now she has moved to be near her son. I've heard her health deteriorated to some point making this move advisable. I'm trying to re-establish contact with her.

Of course, some of these life tribulations will resolve themselves , but some will not. We are expecting some travel soon.

SO, if I am suddenly absent from my posts, never fear, I will return. Usually I am accompanied by one laptop, so I may be reading, without writing.

No photos! Most of us, including myself, probably would prefer photos in our youth. With apologies to my mid-life aged niece, I left the text gray in keeping with the theme most of my sisterhood is last least early "golden agers!" Maybe I should have selected a "gold" text, but I find golden a misnomer.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Which Way Does the Wind Blow?

The pair stand side by side, like soldiers on watch, duly carrying out their orders in syncopation. Relentlessly they serve day and night. Yet their resulting labors don't produced anticipated results.

Instead of complementing each other, the pair seem determined to produce their unique interpretation of each assignment, when they should be duplicating and verifying each other.

Yes, the windmills in our yard are cantankerous soldiers of the wind.

These windmills were located at different positions prior to the Great 1000 Year Ice Storm of 2009. Even then their faces did not move in syncopation. After all the wind generally blows in one direction at any given point in time, doesn't it??? Maybe NOT.

During the Great Ice Storm, we had to move one windmill to allow the tree trimmers access to a portion of our front yard. My husband moved it adjacent to the other windmill. Maybe they are jealous of each other!!!

We noticed their indication of wind direction varied. They rarely faced the same direction in unison. Some days they face each other in intense argument. Other days they are diametrically opposite, as if pouting. then again they are 90 degrees to each other.

The past two weeks the winds of March have arrived; the windmill watch has intensified.

Our windmills are decorative lawn windmills. If you are interested in a short discussion of windmill history and their many uses, here is a Wikipedia link.

The phenomenon of the two windmills situated adjacent to each other has an explanation in physics and the study of the physical forces of wind and resultant kinetic energy. I'll spare you the scientific and technical details.

Hero of Alexandria, an engineer, described a windwheel operating an organ is as early as the 1st century. This description is probably the first instance of a wind powering machine in history.

Read about how a series of wind turbines are used to capture green energy to generate electricity here. There are many sites about wind as a source of kinetic energy to be used to generate electricity. Windmills have been used as a source of energy to power grist, sugarcane and corn mills, pump water and many other tasks where kinetic energy is needed.

In Texas windmills were the major source of pumping water for many uses from household to field irrigation and water for livestock. I remember a multi-purpose windmill at my paternal grandfather's farm. My Dad had a windmill for awhile on his gentleman's farm.

Photographers love them. I remember an epic photo of a windmill with a gorgeous sunset behind it, and another with gathering thunderclouds.

There are two functioning windmills within driving distance of my home in Arkansas. We pass one of these windmills each Sunday on the way to church Sunday.

My husband and I are trying to get good photos of this anomaly, but to date we have been total failures, as indicated by my post today. I expect we'll have plenty of opportunities to work on our techniques. The camera is not seeing what we are selectively seeing.

Truthfully the location is not conducive to good photos. I am going to have to try a little f-stop magic, I guess.

Is it not interesting that a source of energy from the 1st century is now considered one of several options in generating "green" clean electricity, thus playing a part in diminishing use of dirty fuels and their toxic emissions?

Back to the Future, anyone?

1. Windmills - approx. 45 deg. to left
2. Windmills - approx. 45 deg. to right
3. Windmills - approx. 45 deg. to left

Monday, March 01, 2010


IIn Texas as a child I enjoyed the wide open spaces in to play and wander. I remember the flowers of the field, which miraculously 'didn't need planting' and were often weeds to others. There were clovers, thistles, sunflowers, wild daisies, dandelion, cockle burs (ugh!) , bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and many others. Some flowers like sunflowers had very large blossoms, and others were so tiny I crushed them beneath my feet.

Later in botany/biology classes I marveled at the anatomy of a flower as well as many other plants, their interactions with climate and other nature, i.e., bees, birds, and man's creative designs like perfumes.

I marvelled how each species of plant or animal reproduced perfectly the anatomy of its predecessor. What kind of creative processes could be so predictive and precise!

Photos posted above should enlarge with double click or click. These are WalMart mums. The macro feature of my lens illustrates the marvel I have when communicating with nature. The petals of every flower (the reproductive system of angiosperms) are arranged in a certain geometric order which replicates itself season after season. Although not visible the root, stem and leaf arrangement is replicated for every plant.

The raindrops are add to the beauty of the flower.

The process or mind which created our universe wasand is perfect. You and I may have different ideas or names for this process or mind; regardless, it was and is omnipotent and perfect!