Photo Challenges – The Challenge of One/A Beachy Day

These photos of ‘one’ are part of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. The fish above is the one that didn’t get away. It was the prettiest catch of the day. We catch and release so he/she is still out there in the Delaware Bay waters.

While we were enjoying the beautiful day a reminder of those who serve our country graced the sky; a large military plane from Dover Air Force Base flew over the beach. I think it is called a Galaxy plane.

This beautiful patriotic display of flags was flying close to the beach we were fishing on.

One flag was a reminder that there are still many who are MIA and possibly POW’s. These men and women who have disappeared or been imprisoned while serving our country still need our prayers.

I love the perseverance of this one plant growing in the midst of a large swathe of sand.

One oyster perfectly mirrored the blue of the sky above it.

One bird and birdhouse was the catalyst to an encounter I would rather not have experienced, but that is Part II of this post, and hopefully I can put it in the proper perspective tomorrow.

Plants – Quick Grow!

I’m a firm believer in nicking and soaking large seeds for twenty-four hours to facilitate quicker sprouting. This year a few of my moonflower seeds, prepped by the nick/soak method, began growing while they were still soaking.

While the seeds were still in the water a small sprig of green emerged from the nicked area of the seed coat. Within a few days of soaking, the entire seed burst and a shoot emerged and began to grow.

The labels in the pot are the same makeshift markers I used last year: old window blinds snapped off into small pieces and labeled with a Sharpie marker.

Tomato seedlings are also growing fast. Today, every small hair on the stem and leaves was shiny in the brilliant sunshine. Did you know the hair on plants is called trichomes? It amused me to read that trichomes on plants are just as diverse as human hair.

“Trichomes can run the gamut in structure, appearance, and texture. Some trichomes are frail, some coarse; some are branched like tree limbs, others star-shaped; some are long and straight, others are short and curly.” Indiana Public Media

Pressed Flowers – The Oddities of Pressing and Forced Tulip Update

Today I found an oak leaf with a beautiful section of skeletonized vein. The lacy leaf reminded me it’s time to take a walk in the woods and meadows to search for aged leaves and other oddities that will be good for flower-pressing.

When all the Autumn leaves disappeared this year I spotted a large hornet’s nest in a tree near our home. Every time I drove into my neighborhood my eyes were drawn to the nest. I have pressed hornet’s nest paper in the past and was hoping to have a chance to do so once again, but the nest hung on. I could see it was deteriorating and had little hope it would be usable when it fell.

This weekend, after another heavy rain, it slipped off the branch and hit the road. I saw it in time to collect it and just might be able to salvage some of the hornet-made paper to press. I don’t need to worry about eggs inside. I know only the queen survives and hibernates in bark or other crevices until it is warm enough to start a new nest. According to Pets on Mom.me, the hornet queen never returns to the old nest. I’m hoping to discover a way to slice the egg cell paper also, and will try to press that too; I love the pattern the hornets create.

Here’s a quick update on the tulip bulbs we forced. The bulbs in water and river rock are outpacing the bulbs planted in the shallow container of soil. I’ll update on bloom quality when they open up. My grandson was amazed when he visited a few days after planting the bulbs and saw how fast they had grown.

Pleasures – Warm Day Walkabout/Emerging Spring

We’ve had an up and down week, snow one day, gorgeous sunshine and a taste of springtime the next. A midday walkabout was just what I needed.

A glance upward revealed a blush of Venetian red maple buds against the blue sky.

In my yard I noticed the wisteria pods have been scavenged for food. Spring can’t come quick enough for the hungry animals.

The daffodils are pushing upward. I love the smooth texture of the spring green in contrast to the brown leaves, mosses, and dried grass textures of winter.

I checked on my winter sown containers. Nothing is sprouting as of yet. It’s time for me to take my permanent marker outdoors again and reinforce the labeling of the contents. I don’t want to try and guess what’s growing inside when it’s time to plant.

As always, the first bloom in my garden is this tiny yellow crocus. Every year, it’s a reliable forerunner of all the glorious flowers to come. Am I excited about this taste of spring? Oh Yes!

Projects – Scrub Pine Valentine Update

December’s Scrub Pine Christmas tree is still a resident plant in my home. Replanted in a bigger pot and placed in a sunny area, the pine, which was bristly and dried out when I first transplanted it is thriving in its improved conditions. The needles are not so sharp to the touch, and there is new growth on many of the tips.

The Christmas Tree Pine is now a Valentine’s Day Tree. I didn’t buy a thing to dress it up. Double-sided paper cut into heart shapes, hole-punched, and hung with Christmas ornament hooks were a perfect match for the tree’s sparse appearance.

The color combination is pink with touches of orange/coral, a perfect combination for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. Look closely and you can see I’ve used old beads and pearls as ornaments, cut away from necklaces I no longer wear. I hung these by threading them onto Christmas tree hooks. I’ve found these hooks have many uses in house and garden when I need a small piece of wire.

 

 

Photo Challenge – Lime Green

Do you see her? She is lime green and blends in perfectly with the bush she rests upon. I found her by following the sound of winged distress. An urgent flapping outdoors alerted me that a bird of some type was in crisis. I peered into the bush where the noise emanated from and saw a gigantic praying mantis in the midst of devouring a cicada. Surprised, I jumped back and in doing so interrupted the feast. The cicada fell to the ground and the mantis moved to a new branch. She’s a beauty, lime green, very large, and burdened with a swollen abdomen that predicts she will soon produce an egg case.

I gently took her indoors to show my cat. He is a scaredy-cat so I knew the mantis was not in jeopardy.

Just as I thought, the encounter was a stand-off, but I did get to see a sight unique to me; the mantis unfurled her wings and put on a very good display of aggression. She took on the stance of a boxer, ready to bop the inquisitive nose of Hans.

I’m torn now over having these amazing creatures living in my gardens. In the past, I delighted in finding one or more egg cases in my yard, but Praying Mantis are voracious insects; I’ve even heard horrible rumors that they can capture hummingbirds. I let her go back into the gardens, far away from any nectar-producing plants the hummers visit.

The mantis is part of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge/Lime or Light Green.

Peculiarities – Sea Marbles

Tuesday’s with Laurie, A WordPress blog I follow, was my inspiration for this post. Laurie’s title is intriguing: Losing Your Marbles. I immediately thought of all the marbles I find around the house and all the strange places they turn up in. One of my favorite marbles was found on a beach; I’m sure you can pick out the sea glass marble amid the pieces of pottery shard sea glass and a cobalt blue vase top.

I found an article on how marbles find their way into the ocean. The West Coast Sea Glass blog devoted a whole post to the answers. Sea Glass Marbles – How Do Marbles End Up on a Beach. One possibility I liked was the combination of slingshots, young children, and floating driftwood as a target. Since I’m a grandmother I can easily imagine that scenario. Thanks Laurie for being my inspiration for this post. Check out Laurie’s excellent blog: Tuesdays with Laurie.

My cobalt blue vase and the vivid orange-red of the marble will be my entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for this week.

Perspective – Through My Eyes with Gratitude

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?”
~ Henry David Thoreau

I’m sharing my world and including a note of gratitude to you, all my fellow bloggers, who share your world and lives too. Thank You!

I love these rustic pilings and enjoyed the sight of the cormorants sunning themselves on the tops.

Old docks are stacked upon each other along Fortescue Creek. A good photo for this week’s Fun Foto Challenge/Stacked created by Cee. Thanks Cee, for all the great challenges.

If you spent time with me you would quickly discern that one of my favorite activities is beach combing wherever there is plenty of interesting sea or bay drift. It has been a good weekend. God bless you all on this Sabbath Day. Thanks for stopping by!

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26

Pheathers – Diagonal Lines of Swallows

A Swallow on a diagonal line is my choice for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Diagonals.

The swallows living near the Delaware Bay were everywhere, swooping through the air to eat greenhead flies and other insects. I also saw several in the heat of mid-day cooling themselves by fluttering and lifting their wings in the breeze.

Another choice for Cee’s Challenge was this little getaway spot underneath the deck of a beach house. A stack of lobster buoys hung nearby, the stairs a perfect diagonal from deck to the ground.

Photographs – Summer Creativity


A seashore or bay town is usually a boon to the creative spirit of its inhabitants. This horizontal line-up of birdhouses on the porch of a trailer in Fortescue, New Jersey, is a testament to creativity, and also a good photo for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Horizontal Lines.

I was surprised to find CREATIVITY listed as a virtue by Virtues for Life. This virtue, for me personally, is a lot easier to achieve than some of the stickier virtues…such as ‘Flexibility or Detachment,’ two virtues I have trouble following at times.

Another good example of horizontal lines is this flat-bottomed boat appropriately named, ‘The Greenhead Hotel.’ If you’ve ever been to the Delaware Bay or another New Jersey salt marsh in summer you won’t need to be told what greenhead implies. Once bitten by a greenhead fly you will never forget the name or the big pinch of the bite.

I’ll close this post with one of my favorite quotes on creativity.

Background – Elephant Ear leaf.

Photo Challenges – Columns and Vertical Lines

A dragonfly, vertical lines on his wing, sitting on the column of a Shepherd’s Hook.

I love taking part in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenges. Today I checked the subject out and commented on Cee’s blog that the challenge looked like fun, and I would be on the lookout for a perfect subject to photograph. I wasn’t expecting the opportunity to present itself so fast! Within minutes I spotted this amazing fellow/gal on the shepherd’s hook my birdfeeder hangs on.

The hook is my column, the vertical lines are covering the dragonfly and his wings.

Detail of dragonfly wing/vertical lines

What a beautiful creature he is; I feel a sense of awe and wonder as I look at the details God created, the beauty of something as humble as an insect is an awesome example of his mysterious ways.

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 – 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.

Perspective – Rain and Rainbows

Rain or Rainbows – What a terrific subject for this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. I went to one of my favorite places over the weekend, Fortescue, New Jersey, on the Delaware Bay, only to find that the weather was contrary to what we had hoped for when we left home.

The sky was cold and grey and the temperature reflected it. The rain pelted those fishing off the beach; we think they were trying to hook some winter flounder, striper or bunker. We saw a fishing rod bend with a possible bite, but whatever nibbled at it got away.

Where there is rain you will find rainbows. Although I didn’t see a rainbow in the sky, the upturned oyster shells scattered by the surf on the beach reflected a brilliant iridescence, the only rainbow I found.

When they dry, the oysters are plain and bluish-gray in appearance.

The last rainbow is a throwback photograph and video of last year’s vacation in Jamaica. In the early morning, on the way to breakfast, my husband spotted this amazing spider web, damp after the gardener’s early morning watering; the web’s moisture captured the sun and reflected it as a shimmering rainbow.

My 30 second YouTube Video will give you a good look at the spiderweb as it danced in the wind and reflected rainbows.

Planting – All One Color/Moss Gardening

Over the last few months I’ve been collecting moss. A bit from here, a patch from there, I find it in places where motorcycles have created ruts on woodland paths, in deep holes dug by children for their games of war, in low places on the side of the roads I travel. Earth seems to heal her wounds in deep green moss.

I thought moss was a good entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for this week. CFFC: All One Color

Collecting mosses is easy. I always try to take a piece that is not in an area where people walk or gather. I don’t want to blight the beauty of the landscape by being greedy. Since I’ve collected only bits at a time, the moss garden has taken about eight weeks to complete. The area is shady, the main job in maintaining and nurturing the patch will be to water, water, and water. I must be diligent in this area if I want to have success. It will still be a long shot. When the summer weather nears one hundred degrees even the hardiest plants begin to wilt.

Most mosses have very shallow roots. To plant I use a trowel, rough up the soil a bit, lay the moss on the stirred up ground and water.

I isolated a few of the greens in the mosses, there are surely dozens more, but this is a good representation of some of the tones the moss contains. If you are interested in moss and growing a moss garden take a look at these sites.
Moss and Stone Gardens
Moss Gardening
Growing Moss

Place – Philadelphia in the Fog

The fog surrounding Philadelphia transforms the city and surroundings with a metallic silver hue. These sights were photographed from the opposite side of the Delaware river on the shores of National Park, New Jersey.

National Park is a great place to watch planes arriving and departing from Philadelphia International Airport.

Cee’s Foto Challenge this week is Metal. Think how many metal water towers we pass each day, never notice, but depend upon for their durability.

Peculiarities – Snow Squalls

We had a quick snow squall blow through yesterday; brilliant sunshine preceded and followed the showers of white. I grabbed my camera and ran for the path in the woods. The last few weeks of winter photos have all looked the same, a photo in flying snow would be something new. Before I could reach the broken tree stump where I take the photo each week, the snow stopped, the sun emerged, and my desire for capturing the snow squall with my camera was denied. But wait…dazzling in the brilliant sunshine, snowflakes, gathered on old spider webs strung between barren twigs, resembled blossoms of Queen Anne’s Lace.

img_5399-2

The blue sky with the snow-laden spider web was the perfect choice for the Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola/Sky Blue challenge. It also worked out well for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Looking Up At Things.

img_5391-2

The moral of my tale: When things don’t go the way you hoped, look around, there might be a blessing, somewhere close by, in disguise.

Plants – Looking Down At Things

img_5108-2

Nothing is growing tall, or looming large, in my gardens now, except maybe, the dried out stems of last year’s blooms. To find patches of green I must look down, a perfect pose to find an answer to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge of “Looking Down At Things.”  Wild Cress, even in the middle of February is thriving. This small weed, in shades of shamrock green, grows all over my yard and garden beds through the winter. It is a favorite of mine for pressed flower crafts. The foliage is lush, probably due to the insulating Styrofoam pot and rocks it is growing between and near. At this time of year I’m not picky, I take delight in green plants wherever I can find them.

img_5104-2

I was thrilled to discover this small volunteer sprout of Larkspur, growing in winter against the odds. Larkspur need a period of cold for germination success. I will soon plant a milk carton for winter-sowing. Plants that need cold for growth do well when winter sown.

I’m sure the next few weeks will find me in my garden, looking down…and dreaming.

Photograph – Screamin’ Green Smiley Face

I love a challenge, and today I am taking part in four challenges with this post. Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge asks for ‘Things That Look Like Faces.’

mossy-stone

Can you see the smiley face on the ‘Screamin’ Green’ moss? Screamin’ Green is today’s Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola Challenge.

When I began this post I had no idea what expectations to have. Expectation is one of the challenge words for this week’s WordPress Daily Post.

The shadows in the rock help create the face. Shadow was this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge. I wonder what challenges I will face in the week to come. Have a lovely weekend my blogging friends!

Place – Woodlands in Winter

img_4726-2

The woods are crisp with fallen leaves and cold temperatures. I took a woodland walk with camera in tow, searching for the perfect fallen tree as an answer to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Inner and Outer. Within the trunk of a split tree I found a beautiful abstract design. It’s easy to pass by and never noticed the unseen ethereal beauty created by weather and mossy tendrils.

img_4727-3

As I walked I purposely trudged my feet kicking up the wonderful scent of the woodland path. I found another instance of inner and outer in the recesses of a knotty fallen branch. It reminded me of a miniature bird nest; I found myself fascinated by the complexity of what on first glance appeared simple. The swirling bark was the perfect choice for the Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola/Shadow.

img_4729-2

I searched for greens amid the fallen leaves and was surprised by how many I found. Here’s my Ten on Tuesday & One, highlighted by the brilliant yellow of a dandelion bringing a touch of sunshine into the day.

ten-on-tuesday-plus