Peculiarities – Art in Strange Places

I’m reposting these beautiful pieces of artificial reef because they could be considered a companion to yesterday’s Wheaton Arts post.

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When I stroll ocean beachfront, I always search for seaglass. The bays of my area also yield up bits of this treasure, but rarely a piece so perfectly frosted as those polished by the ocean.

Some of these pieces come from decades-old blown glass. Glassblowing was once a major business in my area of New Jersey. You can read the history of glassblowing in South Jersey here: South Jersey Glass Blowing History.

The cast-offs and waste, known as culls, were often dumped as “fill” for construction or used in combination with concrete as artificial reefs to curb what was even then a problem…beach erosion. Pieces of this glass can be found today in a few areas.

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I like the enormous concrete and fused glass slabs that have become home to mussels and other bay animals.

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My best guess on how these huge pieces of artificial reef were fashioned is that culls and discarded molten glass, still warm enough to be semi-liquid, were covered with concrete and then dumped along the shoreline of the bays. I like the enormous concrete and fused glass slabs that have become home to mussels and other bay animals. Tons of glass was likely mixed with concrete as moorings for homes. new year's day 027 In the above photo you can see an example of a bed of mussels making their home on a large piece of concrete-fused glass. I find these pieces of unintentional art, combined with the natural environment of tides and animal life, breathtaking in appearance. When I recently photographed them scattered on a hurricane-damaged beachfront something within my spirit responded to their undefined beauty. new year's day 023 I have included almost every picture I took of these strange artistic fusions of glass and concrete. A bit self-indulgent perhaps, but I know that the next time I visit they will most likely be gone. Unappreciated by most, they will be plowed under again and encased in new layers of concrete, forever hidden. Hopefully, their images will have a long life in the archives of this blog. new year's day 024 new year's day 028 new year's day 029 new year's day 030 new year's day 031 new year's day 032
 
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Place – Ten-Photo-Daytrip/Wheaton Arts

A daytrip to Wheaton Arts is a must if you are in the Philadelphia area and love blown glass and glass artworks.

Walk through the museum first. You will find a wide array of glass vessels, history and even a few items called whimseys. Whimseys were what the glassblowers worked on for themselves during their lunch hour.

In modern times glassblowers create many unique items, such as this marionette.

Even nails were decorated with blown glass.

We were pleased to see paperweights created by renowned glass artist Paul Stankard.

Here’s a close-up look at a bit of the art contained in the paperweights courtesy of a large poster.

Our next stop was the glassblowing studio. You can feel the heat in the building. The glow of the furnaces as sand is turned to liquid is so bright and hot it is impossible to gaze at it for any length of time. You can see the heat and glow reflected on the back of one of the glassblower’s shirts.

To say it’s fascinating to observe these craftsmen/women as they work is a definite understatement. I could have watched them all day. Another bonus is the gentleman who narrates and explains what they are doing.

If you are able you can schedule a lesson in advance and make your own paperweight. Even the most awkward crafter will create a beautiful paperweight under the tutelage of the glassblowers.

This is a worthwhile way to spend a few hours. Wheaton Arts is open April through December/Tuesday through Sundays, 10am – 5pm. Wheaton Arts is closed on most holidays.

Here’s something good to tell you, Wheaton Arts also sells the wares of the glassblowers and has a General Store filled with old-fashioned toys and candy. There is also a nature walk circling the property.

Pheathers – Oddball Lovebirds Revisited

I walk almost every day and on my rounds around the streets where I live, I came upon the vulture lovebirds I posted on a few weeks ago. They were sitting on a neighbor’s rooftop. The neighbor, standing in her front yard watching the birds, told me they have a nest nearby.

The birds as if on cue, opened up their wings to bask in the morning sunshine. Oh my, they might not have pretty faces, but their wings are spectacular when illuminated by the sun’s rays. I’ll not soon forget the sight of those beautiful wings, perfect for this week’s Cee’s Oddball Challenge.

A little glimpse into my Place in the World.

Phriday Pheathers – Blue Grosbeak

I spotted this beautiful bird on my feeder this week. He is finch-sized and a little raggedy in appearance; he is probably molting. I think he might be a Blue Grosbeak, a bird we don’t see much in southern New Jersey. Can anyone positively identify him for me? Thanks!

One of my ‘Places in the World‘ is walking with eyes up, camera in hand, searching out birds in interesting poses to photograph.

Quick Tip – Tips on Thursday/Garden Repellent

This ladybug suet feeder never quite worked out as I hoped, with no easy perch for landing it was shunned by the birds. Instead of throwing it away, I filled the suet feeder with strands of cat hair, courtesy of the fur my cats shed when I brush them each day. The suet feeder seems to be doing the trick so far. I’ve also sprinkled a few red pepper flakes among the newly planted seedlings and this seems to be helping too. If you don’t have cats you can use smashed garlic cloves, onions, citrus essential oils as repellents.

Filling a suet holder with cat hair definitely makes this photo worthy of Cee’s Oddball Challenge.

Phlowers – Shine

    I picked a humble dandelion puff yesterday and held it toward the sky to study its many facets.

    What a difference it made to lift a flower puff into the rays of the sun. Each cypsela and calyx (seeds) reflected the light; sunbeams radiating off of the puff were the result.

    It reminded me that if I dwell in the holy light of Jesus and accept his saving grace for my own I can be a reflection of him no matter how humble my life and witness. To that thought, I say a big, “HALLELUJAH & AMEN!”

    Since the Dandelion can thrive in difficult conditions, it is no wonder that people say the flower symbolizes the ability to rise above life’s challenges.
    ~ The Meaning of Flowers

    When I pick a dandelion puff and blow the seeds into the wind, I feel young and full of laughter again.

    This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
    This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
    This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
    Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.
    ~ Folk Melody

Quick Tip – Tips on Thursday/Perfect Plant Perches

I enjoy finding new ways to display pots of plants. This year I used a log from the woodpile as a plant stand and three tall stumps, leftovers from our crabapple tree. They look great, but the pots are precarious and easily fall off their perches on a windy day.

I planted the larger terracotta pot first. To keep it stable I hammered a large nail into the stump and lowered the pot onto it through the drainage hole in the bottom.

The plastic planters were not as easy to support. They didn’t have drainage holes; I had to push through the bottom with a pair of scissors. To keep these lighter pots in place I nailed right through the pot into the stumps.

This worked great but meant I needed the ladder to plant the flowers.

I planted varieties that hummingbirds will find nectar in. Pentas, petunias, and verbena will draw both hummers and butterflies. Several other flowers were added for their colors.

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
“For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

― Benjamin Franklin

For the want of a nail my pots would have been lost. Thankfully, it’s unlikely now since I had a few on hand. I’ve also used pencils or dowels to stabilize pots on the ground: Stabilizing Pots on the Ground.

Posies – Bouquet/Iris and Wisteria

It’s time to start creating a weekly bouquet of garden flowers to enjoy. This week I chose the wisteria and iris that are beginning to bloom in my garden. Both of these spring blooming flowers are great for arrangements, and with their substantial stems are easy to use. Remove any leaves that will be below the water line. Cut stems at an angle, and if you’re really ambitious cut straight up the bottom of your wisteria stem to allow more water to be drawn up. It’s best to choose iris buds ready to unfurl. If you cut these stems underwater they will last even longer. An added bonus is the spectacular fragrance of both these flowers. Astonish yourself and create your own springtime bouquet!

Phlowers – Blooming in the Garden/Late April

There are many beautiful purple-hued flowers blooming in my garden this week. I love the lines on the pansy faces. These markings are called pencilings. They look a bit like the whiskers on a cat’s face to me.

“Nobody can keep on being angry if she looks into the heart of a pansy for a little while.” ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery

The Johnny-Jump-Ups are also part of the viola family. I planted these in the Autumn, they lived through our terrible winter and are growing strong, and as an added bonus self-seeded everywhere.

Perwinkles, also called vinca, are putting on quite a show right now. The color is gorgeous and a favorite shade of mine. I also love this periwinkle quote from one of my favorite books and movies, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim.

“All down the stone steps on either side were periwinkles in full flower, and she could now see what it was that had caught at her the night before and brushed, wet and scented, across her face. It was wisteria.”~ Elizabeth von Arnim, The Enchanted April

Violets are blooming throughout the yard in both garden and grass. Their fragrance is amazing, their color divine. I think this quote by Mark Twain is a good way to end this Springtime post.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ~ Mark Twain

 

Quick Tip – Tips on Thursday/Easy Rooting

I visited the Philadelphia Flower Show this past March. While there, I purchased a French Lavender (Lavandula dentata) plant, also known as Fringed Lavender. I immediately fell in love with both the scent and the appearance of the lavender. I wanted to keep the plant indoors, within easy reach, to enjoy the fragrance throughout the day. I also knew it would thrive outdoors in the herb garden, but didn’t want to purchase more plants. I decided to attempt propagation and took four snips of it, hoping at least one would root for me.

My quick tip is the success that can be achieved using ordinary grocery packaging as mini greenhouses. These four pieces of lavender rooted easily enclosed in a muffin package. The clear bottom also allowed me to keep an eye on the success of the rootings. Oh Happy Day! All four cuttings rooted for me.

Give this technique a try. I used seed starter as my growing medium, moistened it, and just popped the cuttings in. If you try this technique, keep the cuttings in bright, but indirect light as they root.

Place – Fortescue/Free and Easy

Free and Easy, to me, means fishing. It was finally warm enough in our area to fish on the Delaware Bay in Fortescue. We were welcomed by a committee of one as we crossed the salt marshes, an osprey on the town sign.

In all directions, the sky was a glorious blue.

The jetty, popular with fisherman, was never so exposed. The tide was at its lowest when we arrived. Only one fisherman pulled in any fish, and they were too small to keep.

The low tide exposed hundreds of my favorite treasures: sea glass, oyster shells, and driftwood. We had a lovely day. We love to observe the change of seasons along the Delaware Bay.

Pheathers – Lovebirds

I love to take morning walks. This week when I opened the door I immediately saw the silhouette of two large lovebirds on a distant tree. I grabbed my camera and actually jogged toward them, intent on getting a photograph before they flew away. I was sure they must be a pair of eagles. We have spotted one flying high overhead in our vicinity more than once. Perhaps the lone eagle had found a mate.

By the time I neared the tree where they roosted, I was a bit out of breath, but able to zoom in with my camera and check out the photo in the viewfinder. Oh, the pain of it! I was out of breath and wildly disheveled just to get a picture of a pair of old turkey buzzards.

Oh well, I guess buzzards can be lovebirds too. They are very prolific in this area. There is usually not a day goes by that I don’t see a few gracefully circling high in the air. Maybe next time I’ll be able to capture that elusive image of our neighborhood eagle. For now, I’ll have to enjoy the buzzards.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Phlowers – Blooming in the Garden/Daffodils

Some think them common ; I think them sublime!

Then my heart with pleasure fills And dances with the daffodils.
~ William Wordsworth

You normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point of daffodils, sunsets and uneventful nice days. ~ Alain de Botton

I have seen the Lady April bringing the daffodils,
Bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain. ~ John Masefield

I think if I were living in a utopian world, then it wouldn’t be political commentary; it would be about daffodils. ~ Emily Haines

Awakening Daffodils

Pharmacy – Homemade Golden Happiness

I recently read about “Golden Milk.” The thought of warm, golden goodness bringing about an uplift in mood and good health instantly made me happy, a sure sign I needed to try the idea. Warm milk is soothing, turmeric full of antioxidants and all manner of good things that fight or prevent everything from cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, etc., etc., etc. Plain and simple…turmeric is good stuff! Honey, I could write paragraph after paragraph on how I love honey, but I want to keep this brief.

I looked up Golden Milk or as it is sometimes called, Golden Tea and found dozens, if not thousands, of recipes and articles, it’s one of those topics with almost too much information to sort through. My way to create Golden Milk is easy: 1 cup of warmed milk, a teaspoon or two of honey, and 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric. Stir several times to incorporate the turmeric. Ah, it’s delicious…but oh dear, it’s so soothing it makes me want to nap.

I’ve also included a duckling planter in the photo because the expression on the duck’s face always makes me smile. It has a number on the bottom and appears to be a vintage piece.

Pheathers – Alone

Our local wetlands have several stands of snags, dead trees that form homes for various types of wildlife. Recently, we saw one of these snags with a big bird on top. If he hadn’t briefly raised his wings, we would have never seen him.

He was alone, perched like a statue against the sky. I zoomed in with my camera, close—

Closer—

Closest—

When we saw his image in the camera’s window we realized he was a great blue heron. I am hoping he wasn’t alone at all, but has a partner and a nest in the wetlands, and will soon raise more baby herons to fill the sky.

This post is part of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Alone. It is also a testament to hope for the clean-up of toxic sites all around the country and world. This area, running parallel to Lipari Landfill, was once in the top ten of worst Superfund sites in the US. The toxic chemicals have been cleaned up and now the wetlands nearby are home to many birds and other wildlife.