To the best Dad that a daughter (and 4 sons) could have…
Too many photos, too little time? Is it really that I don’t have enough time? I don’t feel like I’m doing that much, but let’s think that over again. I found out a week or so ago that a grad student friend’s wife was expecting and… I think her due date was yesterday. So, in addition to raiding my mom’s baby bootie stash (I don’t know how to knit, yet, so I can’t make them myself), I’ve been working on crocheting a baby blanket. I’m not posting pictures yet, because I haven’t had time.
As many of you already know, you can’t type on your computer and crochet at the same time. Nor can you read. Yes, some FB friends recommended that I listen to audio books, and I did dig up my Audible account, and find I had a few credits to my name. So, I’ve started listening to Brian Jacques’ Doomwyte, which I’ve read before. But if there’s one audio book series I like, that would be the unabridged Redwall books. Jacques narrated them himself, with a full cast to do all the voices. Of course, it makes all the bad guys creepier, and the descriptions of the Doomwyte cave even creepier than it ever was when I read it.
So, suddenly I’ve realized that I have a lot of photos piling up, from a visit to the Botanical Gardens, wandering around in my own yard, pictures of my bedroom before we started stripping the wallpaper, and a number of other things. But if I throw my weekend into catching up on photos and writing, I’ll never finish that blanket! And I haven’t heard if the baby arrived yet…
My preference is to watch movies while crocheting, though, which I find much more entertaining than just listening to an audio book. The crocheting just flies by. But I feel like a lazy bum, sitting on the couch all the time! I haven’t watched this many movies since… well, since Imogen and I had our movie binge, in Australia. No, I didn’t start watching any Austen or Gaskell movies yet. Instead, I’ve been watching my way through The Hobbit (with my family), Bedknobs and Broomsticks, While You Were Sleeping, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and Tangled. If I can talk my brother into watching The Hunger Games with me, I’ll watch that again, too.
Also, I should have lots of time, because I haven’t gone to the gym much in the last week. I’ve been pretty tired, despite not working enough to make me so, and my foot has been bothering me. But I avoid going back to the doctor for it, and hope that the lack of energy isn’t from having a mono relapse. I don’t think it is. Even if I did HAVE a mono relapse, it’s nothing like what I’ve heard other people go through with it. But it keeps me from having enough energy to do what I want to do, and I feel like I’m doing little enough, as it is!
And so, all this rambling is to tell you that I’m really trying to accomplish something with my last week or so (finish a beautiful baby blanket!), while I’ll go ahead and share some pictures of the most recent flowers that have come up in our yard. They’ve survived, despite the beating that has been administered by all the rain… but I think these were taken before the worst of the storms AND the heat.
Last week, it was in the 90′s, all week. This week, it’s “cooled off”, staying in the 80′s. Practically a cold front, you know. And it’s only getting started! This is only June. July and August are just waiting to knock us flat… or send us running for cover, in the air-conditioning of our homes. The humidity is here to stay, as well. If it were just a dry heat, we could handle it. But no, this is the South, and humidity comes with the heat, no ifs, ands, or buts.
I’m not really afraid of the swimming pool, but last summer, I couldn’t talk myself into going there for a swim. All summer long. At the time, I was still six months out from my Christmas-time illness, in Australia. I went swimming in a pool, got an earache, didn’t deal with it fast enough, went to see the doctor, and then took antibiotics. The antibiotics made me so sick that it almost ruined my vacation, and I was starting to think that hospitalization sounded good.
You can see why I was a little wary of going into the water, afterwards. Oh, I did, several times, but only when invited to do so. It was never my idea. I’m pretty sure I went tubing on Lake Maraboon, once, and I was in a pool with all my Aussie kids. But despite the Aussie heat, I didn’t seek out any swimming opportunities. And when I arrived home, summer was on the doorstep, and I couldn’t talk myself into going to the Clemson Pool.
Today, it was in the 90′s, and even being inside, in the air-conditioning wasn’t keeping me from being too warm. Of course, when I’m doing any kind of physical work, I overheat quickly, so by the time I left after cleaning up, I was roasting. And then stepped out into the heat and humidity, still in my work clothes. Ugh.
Once I was home in the air-conditioning, though, laziness set in. It’s no longer fear of the water and what it might do to me, but it’s been so long since I’ve been in it, I needed to vault out of my rut. So, after doing a few necessary things at home, I forced myself to go find my swimsuit and towel, and drive up Old Stone Church Rd.
When I arrived, I was surprised at so many of the changes, until I saw the showers and bathroom looks exactly the same, a bit dilapidated. But in the years since I’ve been in Australia and PA, they’ve redone the pool, the eating area, and even the outside of the buildings. Also, the gate on the fence, that stays closed, and I almost couldn’t figure out how to open it. The edges of the pool now have fancy stonework, and the bottom of the pool no longer has any lanes. But it’s still the rough bottom to the pool, that will eventually wear the skin off your feet, if you spend as many hours in there as the kids always do.
I managed ten minutes in the sun before adult swim, and then got in the water. Immediately, the clouds came out. And after fifteen minutes of adult swim, the sun wasn’t coming back. In fact, the clouds were rolling in. So, I headed home in time to beat the storm, though it had yet to thunder.
It’s a start, though. I no longer fear ear aches, as a result of swimming (besides, we have tons of hydrogen peroxide, if needed). But no reason to keep wearing that rut down. Time to go swimming, while summer is still here!
The biggest problem with having a birdhouse, bird feeder, and a bird bath right by the front window (not to mention a flower-covered arbor) is that you can never get decent photos of the birds. If you move suddenly, while in the dining room, they’ll fly away. So, it’s only after sitting still at the table for some time that they’ll come back.
And then, if you could manage to find a good angle to take the pictures from, will your camera focus on the outside, or on the window? And what if the window has pollen on it? Will it show up on the camera? These are all moot points, however, if you can’t be anywhere the birds won’t notice you. It did occur to me that I could try setting up my tripod at a low angle, but that was only after I seated myself in front of the window.
Our front windows are rather large, and the bottom sections have screens, so before the air-conditioning was turned on, we had them open. So, rather than deal with the possibility of a smudged window, or having to hold extremely still while standing, I decided to see what the camera did while aiming through a window screen.
It actually worked pretty well, as you can see. Aside from a tiny bit of blur, the camera at that range, like my own eyes, does not focus on the screen itself, but what’s beyond. So, knowing that I can hold a camera steadier if I have my elbows propped on something, I found a sort-of comfortable position, with my elbows on the window sill.
I started with taking pictures from the right-most window, and then moved to the middle one. So, the third picture from the top was taken from the new angle, and there is no bird in that picture. Just in case you were looking. I thought it would be nice to include a picture where you can just enjoy the loveliness of the arbor and the flowers.
Still, even at this seemingly close range, my camera doesn’t zoom too far. My brother even offered me his camera lens, but I was too involved with holding still to take him up on it. I had to be quiet and still, and be alert to when the mother bluebird returned to the birdhouse.
Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that. This year, we had a bluebird build a nest in our birdhouse, the first time a bluebird has ever done that. So, if you want to, you can watch the flashes of blue, coming and going, all day long. But when the first nest of birds had hatched and flown away… a few days later, the mother bird came back and had some more eggs.
After some research, we discovered that bluebirds will have two or three hatchings in a year, not just one. And if they like the location, they may come back, year after year. Sometimes, the first set of babies will even help the parents feed their younger siblings. So, if they go for round 3, we still have more babies to see.
One picture includes what might be a female cardinal, but the picture really wasn’t close enough to be sure. Almost all of these pictures were cropped on Picasa, because my zoom lens didn’t show enough detail. I also had to brighten up the colors, so you could see the mother bird, perched on the birdhouse. Some days, we’ll have birds in the feeder (which is above my head, just outside the window, but not in the pictures), a bird in the birdbath, and babies cheeping from the birdhouse. And with cardinals visiting us regularly, we’re awash with color!
I need to look through my other photos some more. I’ve attempted to get pictures of the babies, from the hole in the birdhouse, but they usually retreat into the shadows. But I keep trying, and their mother hasn’t dive-bombed me yet. Stay tuned, I’ll see what other bird photos I’ll manage to dig up, now that I’m watching through the windows!
I know, I know, I’ll have to leave the magnolias alone, eventually. But for now, I keep wandering back to a certain sheltered walkway, hidden by the sky-high magnolia trees. I keep looking for more blooms to open.
When I found the first one that was somewhat near my eye level, I very carefully pulled it down so I could look at it, but didn’t disturb the fallen stamens (I looked that up, I’m pretty sure that’s what they are). One time, I pulled one down, and got several dried stamens in my face, complete with pollen. Blech.
After that, some of them open in a very odd fashion. One petal will come all the way open, while the others don’t. Or you’ll find some random leaves growing up between the petals, blocking your camera. And if it rains enough, they’ll just rot without ever opening.
As I write this, it’s raining again, and these pictures were taken several days ago. The magnolia trees all around Clemson are continuing to bloom, and I keep telling myself I should go to the Botanical Gardens or over by Sikes Hall to look at the trees there. But then, I remember how many other photos I’ve taken of them, and put it off for another day.
But eventually, I think I’ll find the perfect just newly opened magnolia, every petal in its absolutely perfect place, and no rain or sunshine has either rotted it or dried it out. The just-now-opened flower will also smell glorious.
Usually, my workplace is for grownups, or those that think they’re grownups. Being a college campus, regular customers will be anywhere from 18 to… whatever age the professors are. Of course, when prospective college students are visiting, the age average drops, but for the most part, children don’t come through.
But every once in a while, my life becomes even more fun and interesting, when a professor will bring their kid in with them. One funny memory involves a little girl walking in, during the winter, wearing shorts and a t-shirt… and no coat. We looked outside, and we looked at her. No accompanying grownup, and was she crazy to be out in that weather, dressed like that? Turns out, she was a “regular”, as her mom taught in a neighboring building, and had let her feel grownup by going to get a snack for herself. When the heat’s turned up in the office, and you can run in and out, between buildings, who needs a coat?
One time, a prof brought his beautiful daughter in with her, but she was unimpressed by the cafe. Frowning heavily, and tugging on his arm, she informed him, “Daddy, it’s BORING here!”. You’ll be shocked to know that I laughed.
Past performances have been knocked all hollow, though. Today, a couple brought in their little girl, and wasn’t she just full of attitude! From across the room, I could see her hand on her hip, holding that pose that says she knows what’s what. Her long black pigtails flipped back and forth, as she looked around the room, while she hung on to a can of soda she had brought in with her. I figure she was steadily shaking it up, even though she probably didn’t mean to.
But when their family arrived at the register, she was getting some of our Hickory Hills milk, which you have to shake up, because it’s pasteurized but not homogenized. It’s really good whole milk, and some of the college students swear by the chocolate milk, but we were out of that. The reminder to shake it up is handy, though, because occasionally, someone will bring it back, thinking that the milk has gone back. No, sir, that’s just the thick cream in the top, until you homogenize it yourself.
The little girl had passed her soda to someone else, and grabbed the milk. In a voice rough with emotion, and just a few shades south of Agnes’ voice when she said “IT’S SO FLUFFY!!” (please tell me you know your Despicable Me!?), this child informed me that she LOVED this milk! She LOVED the BUTTER in it and it was SO GOOD! She continued to shake it, the whole time, while she was speaking. And I kept from laughing until after they left. Of course, it isn’t really “butter” in the milk, just cream, but who cares? She LOVES that milk!
Every time a child comes through my cafe, I remember how much fun they are. Sure, they’re hard work, but they never run short on hilarious things to say and do. And after the endless stream of monotonous undergrads, kids are definitely more interesting than they are.
No, I don’t have a fairy tale to tell you, I’m sorry if I tricked you there. Just more delightful and exquisite flowers (some are delightful and some are exquisite, but not always both). It really has been more than a few weeks since I was paying so much attention to the early blooming spring blossoms!
By the way, I have been looking up more synonyms for the words “beautiful” and “flowers”. There’s only so many times you can use these words, before you feel like the most repetitive person! Honestly, though, has anyone ever described a flower as “pulchritudinous”? When I manage to work that into a sentence about a rosebud, you’ll know I have succeeded at life. I think I will have to write a post about synonyms, at some point.
For now, summer is getting started, but we only just turned the air-conditioning on (it’s humid out there, and staying about 70 at night), and there are new blooms coming into season. The magnolias continue to bloom, and I keep looking for better photo opportunities with them.
While wandering near my workplace, I found this bush of berries that were in the process of exploding into red flowers. I have absolutely no clue what they are, but I found the “berry” edges to the flowers to be fascinating. It was also handy that there was a manhole cover located in the surrounding grass, so I could stand on it. As opposed to losing my balance in the longish grass. I had spent enough time wandering in the weeds near the magnolias, over the last few days.
These little branches covered with white “buds”, made me think of how the bushes sometimes look, after snow has fallen. Of course, if we got snow in this heat, something really would be messed up. But I thought they were lovely, with the white on green, and really liked how even some of the spider webs showed up in the pictures.
I found some winners amongst the Southern magnolias. I love how you can see the little curlicues of the developing “fruit” of the magnolia. I’ve read that these flowers are pollinated by beetles, because they have no nectar to attract bees and other insects. The beetles are attracted by the scent of the magnolia flowers (as are we humans).
Aside from more climbing around in the monkey-grass, I don’t have any adventures to tell you about, from these wanderings. So sorry. I’ll let you know if I get poison ivy or something, but since I’ve never had it, ever, I still assume I’m not allergic. And I still don’t recognize it, if I see it.
State of Origin, that is. I’ve been reliably informed that Queensland is now going for its 8th win! I say reliably, because I don’t trust my reckoning, even if I google it. I lost track of what number they were at, shortly after leaving Australia. I suppose it would help if I just read my own posts about the serious-as-all-get-out rugby competition between Queensland and New South Wales? It’s probably a good idea, but I doubt I will. When I reread what I’ve written a LONG time ago, it messes with what I might write NOW, off the top of my head.
A couple of days ago, a co-worker was bored, so they demanded to know what my favorite basketball team was. Um, I don’t watch basketball, so no favorite. He tried again… football team! Nope, sorry. I don’t watch football, either (gridiron, that is). I would much rather play a sport than watch it. So, at a momentary stand-still, a few minute later, he asked, “Favorite My Little Pony?!”
After a bit, I told him that I watched rugby sometimes, but apparently rugby doesn’t agree with him. I neglected to tell him that I love to watch the haka at the beginning of games with the New Zealand All-Blacks. I don’t know what he would have thought of that.
Since coming back to the U.S., I actually haven’t looked for a rugby team to follow, because cheering on teams has never been my style. If you don’t really watch sports on tv, then you don’t really have a reason to cheer a team on. I’m more likely to root for (Aussies, don’t be snarky, you know what I mean) a local team. I’ll cheer for Clemson, because that’s where I’m from. I’ll hope the Carolina Panthers defeat the New England Patriots, in the Super Bowl… but I’ll still mostly watch the commercials.
And so, I’ll cheer on the Queensland Maroons, if I can just find somewhere to watch them! Of course, I will also cheer for them because they’re just the best team in State of Origin, anyway. But I know some will disagree with me there. I have an American friend who works in Canberra and has lots of friends in NSW, so of course he’s on their side.
I remember my first Origin game. I was sitting on the arm of the couch, trying to figure out what was going. These amazingly strong AND fast guys were running constantly, making me never want to take my eyes off the television. If I did, I might miss something. That’s another reason I like it, the constant movement, the ongoing game, that only stops for a short break in the middle of the game. I hate games that stop and start, allowing your mind to wander to more interesting things.
When I missed the second Origin game of 2011, I made sure I was in a house full of friends for Game 3. It was a riotous group, with mostly Maroon fans, and a few Blues in the room. I’ve never been one for actually clapping, cheering, and shouting during a game, unless I really understand what’s going on. So, I just sat with my eyes glued to the screen, and my eyes were probably as big as dinner plates, trying to take it all in. It was so exciting! The Maroons were so awesome!
As I write, if I have the dates correct, then my Queenslander friends are just a few hours away from cheering on their team. The drinks will be out, the snacks will disappear, and they’ll be shouting their heads off. And even if I can’t watch with them, I’m cheering for the right side, in my head, from South Carolina. Go Maroon!
When I was visiting the Charleston Tea Plantation, I took the time to photograph a number of flowers. They were planted on both sides of the main building, where the gift shop and processing factory are located. Since I had so many pictures in my post about my day in Charleston, I didn’t include the flowers in them. So, here they are now, since I’m already on a floral binge. : )