be the Christmas tree…

It’s been an “interesting” week. I was feeling marvelous on Sunday, when I got slammed with an ocular migraine that put the “aura” into both eyes, rendering me almost blind. Well, it was very bright in there, but I couldn’t read my text book or write any notes about what I was reading. So, studying had to take a back seat for a while, until my vision cleared. The thing about this type of migraine is that it doesn’t always turn into a headache. Unfortunately, I not only got a bad headache, but I was feeling queasy as well. And when you can’t eat much, for me, being hungry will make a headache worse. 12351762_10153712583099976_309084352_oAnyway, I fought through it and kept studying, and then survived yesterday’s exam. Not without having lingering aches in my head, but at least I could eat normal food again and stop drinking ginger tea. I say all this to led up to a more cheerful outlook for the week, now that the worst exam is over, in a way, since I absolutely abominate in-class essay exams. Now, I have two take-home exams to write, and one will be long… but at least I can pace myself.12334250_10153704798709976_403542948_oAlso, I was in bed before nine o’clock last night, though I didn’t turn the light out until about 10pm. No studying, just some relaxing and then a much-needed ELEVEN hours of sleep. Yup, you heard that right. I woke up this morning, feeling amazing, and praying that this lasts for the whole week. Also, as soon as the pressure was off from my first exam, I had time to relax and goof off with my phone. Hence, the selfie that I’m posting down below. 12355785_10153713456899976_2145821784_oBut since one method of relaxing for me is still taking pictures, I thought I’d include one that I took on campus, while waiting for my brother to pick me up. That’s one thing that I absolutely love about winter, how the bare branches are outlined against the sky… and then the sky can take on so many colors and even textures. Of course, anyone who reads my posts regularly already knows that I have something of a tree addiction. Hopefully, I’ll be taking my “real” camera out during the break, and having some fun with it.12342901_10153703881964976_2099653931_o12334524_10153706594024976_1998174422_oEvery Christmas, I manage to start taking pictures of the Christmas tree, even though some of the same ornaments always end up in the shot. I love how the lights reflect on the snowmen and snowflakes… and, of course, I had nothing to do with decorating the tree this year, so I have to help remind myself that Christmas is actually coming. School keeps me so busy that it really doesn’t feel real. So, staring at my pictures does help.12334462_10153712084099976_799253162_oLast night, I was playing with selfies and trying to get some reflections of the Christmas lights on my glasses, when I came across a filter that changed my hair color in that lighting. I always wondered what my hair would look like, if it were blue or green, didn’t you? So, here you go, my attempt to be a chameleon and blend into the Christmas tree. Well, that is, if my hair is green. If it’s blue, then I really shouldn’t blend, right? I could’ve put the pic in full-size, but the lighting was quite dim… so, too grainy. Now, I have to stop goofing off and start writing my take-home exam for my South America class. If I get it finished in good order, and turn it in early, then I will have a full 24 hrs to study for my math exam, which is tomorrow night. 12355957_10153713708489976_449474971_oHave a great week, and I hope to keep coming back on here more regularly over the Christmas break. Oh, and if you are also taking exams this week or next, then I wish you luck on those, also! : )12351802_10153712586354976_775561797_o

a taste of autumn…

Fall’s gone, it’s raining outside, and the fog is supposed to be thick. I’m about to go see for myself. This should stay your eyes until I can put up the rest of the autumn foliage online. : )  DSC_0164DSC_0183DSC_0245 DSC_0250 DSC_0258 DSC_0259

blossoms of the crepe myrtle…

I had never realized that my “favorite tree” was a crepe myrtle. Now that these trees are blooming all over campus, it finally hit me. So, I figured I’d go see that particular tree from behind Hunter… and it isn’t blooming yet.DSC_0798 DSC_0801

But anyway, there’s a whole row of crepe myrtles blooming between Hunter Hall and Fluor-Daniel, so I went to look more closely at them. My initial impression is that the bright pink color is nice, but when I get closer, they don’t look very interesting. Then, I look REALLY closely… and my whole perspective changes.DSC_0803 DSC_0804

DSC_0806The yellow centers of the flower are a stark contrast to the bright pink “crepe” petals. They’re rather strange-looking, overall, with what looks like the arms of an octopus sticking out of the bloom.DSC_0809

DSC_0807Some of the trees had been out in the rain, and the blossoms were dead and falling off, while others were heavily covered with bugs and bees, so I tried to stay clear of the pollen-collectors.DSC_0810

DSC_0812While hanging out under the branches, I saw the crazily peeling bark of the crepe myrtles. The fact that they shed, all year round, would explain how they get their funkily designed trunks, over time.DSC_0811

DSC_0813I read online that the leaves are supposed to change to bright colors, after the blooms are gone. Also, the trunks are supposed to hold a wide range of color, in the shaggy, peeling trunks. I look forward to seeing it, as I’ve never noticed it in passing, before.DSC_0815

DSC_0818My “favorite” tree must be an older crepe myrtle, because the ones in our back yard aren’t old enough to have developed any twists or turns, yet. Also, our trees are way in the back, and I don’t go close enough to see them. At least, not usually. Maybe, someday, they’ll be as sturdy and beautiful as that one tree behind Hunter.DSC_0816DSC_0819

the last of the magnolias…

I know, I know, you are positively sick of this type of flower. I’m pretty sure that I don’t need to take pictures of any of them, next year. Instead, I’ll go find a tree or flower that I missed out on, and make you sick of that one. Now you have something to look forward to.  : )DSC_0514

I really ought to go see if I can get a good look at the magnolia “fruit”, after the red seeds have developed. They would make a pretty neat contrast to all the white flowers that I’ve been burying you in. DSC_0513But these are the last of the magnolia photos for this year. These were taken outside of Hunter Hall, once more, and as usual, I was wading through the weeds to get some of them. DSC_0516

DSC_0517The pistils and stamens of the magnolia tree are quite interesting, I think. Both to look at in passing, and to photograph (there IS a difference). But right after they dry up, and begin to form the tree’s fruit, they look rather boring, don’t you think? A dash of color is certainly necessary. I’ll try and remember to go look, though I don’t know if visiting the Botanical Gardens will be an option. I heard they had some serious storm damage, this week.DSC_0519

DSC_0521There are still flowers, out and about in the area, but we’ve had so much rain, I don’t know if they’ve rotted, or even if they’ve been beaten off their bushes and trees. For the next week, we should get fried in the sun, but the 90 degree weather and dreadful humidity makes me want to stay inside.DSC_0523

DSC_0526On the other hand, my energy didn’t drain away, when I got home, so maybe I’ll be energetic enough to go photo hunting, on another day. We shall see.DSC_0528DSC_0529

and the tree came down…

We’ve had a lot of rain, this summer. Rain does usually come with summer, right? I guess I’d forgotten, we’ve had so many dry years. And then, I was away for six summers, so I only vaguely recalled this. But after complaining of all the rain, the news managed to inform me that we were finally out of the drought. Now, if the people that decide how much water to let through the dam/spillway/whatever-it-is would just let Hartwell fill up the rest of the way, that would be great! You know, give the lake property some value again, and make it look like more than a mud hole.Riggs Tree in March

One afternoon, I got off of work, and was vaguely aware that a storm was rolling through, while I worked away on my computer. I could dimly see the rain coming down, but our back porch blocked my view of the trees. It was only afterwards that I heard how bad it had been in some areas, and how the wind had brought down a lot of debris.Riggs Tree in May 2

Riggs Tree in May 1Combined with all the rain that has soaked into the ground, for weeks and weeks, I arrived at work to hear that a large oak tree had come down up the hill from us. At the time, I didn’t know where, I just knew that I couldn’t go see, though a co-worker walked up the hill to look, because he didn’t have anything better to do.

Sometime in the afternoon, an 18-wheeler went by, with a very large tree trunk on the back, and then a dump truck carried away all the extra branches. That was some tree, but I still didn’t know exactly where it had been located. When I finally got into my car, I drove uphill, just in time to see them put the finishing touches on filling in the hole it had left behind. My co-workers had told me that the root system, after the tree fell, was probably taller than they were.DSC_0495

DSC_0497It was one of the trees across the street from Riggs Hall, and down the slope from Fort Hill (John C. Calhoun’s home). I had never taken any pictures up close, but I knew that I had pictures of it. Why? If you’ve seen some of my wandering campus posts, then I have shots of the trees and the paths leading to Riggs, both in winter and in spring. When there are no leaves, you can see Riggs Hall quite easily. When the leaves are out, it’s very shady, and Riggs is out of sight.DSC_0496DSC_0498Strangely enough, I had just taken that springtime tree shot a few weeks before. If you look at the first THREE photos in this post, you can see them. The tree that fell is the second closest to the road, on the right. It doesn’t actually look very big in those pictures, but it really was pretty big, and old. All that rain was enough to soak into the ground, loosen up the roots, and if the wind must’ve helped bring it down. DSC_0499

DSC_0500Or maybe it was rotten in the trunk? I never found out, because I never saw it on the ground. I did see that small tree on the left side of the path, looking a bit smashed, where the big tree must have hit it. DSC_0501DSC_0502When I arrived back on Saturday, the large patch of shade was blinding, after stepping out from the rest of the shady walk. All lined up beautifully, some of them have probably been there for much longer than I’ve been alive. Judging by the size of the other trees, it’s a good thing the tree didn’t fall and block the road, instead of landing in the grass. Or hit any power lines. Were there power lines nearby? I didn’t look.DSC_0503DSC_0505DSC_0507I wonder if they’ll plant another tree there, eventually, though it will take a long time before it catches up with the rest of them. However, if it was old and dangerous, I’m glad it fell and no one was hurt by its falling.DSC_0508DSC_0510

the sikes magnolia…

A few weeks ago, I finally took myself over to Sikes Hall, because I had seen a very large magnolia tree, with branches all the way to the ground. Completely exposed to the sun, as it wasn’t shadowed by any buildings, it was completely covered in flowers. DSC_0533

DSC_0535If you’re unfamiliar with the Southern Magnolia, the trees are huge, both in height and width of the branches (oh, not compared to a redwood, but please don’t argue with me!). Sometimes, people will chop the ground level branches off, if it’s in their front yard, but mostly the branches go straight to the ground. Makes them great climbing trees. But up close, in some of these pictures, it may just resemble a big bush. So, I’ve tried very hard to give an idea of up close AND further back.DSC_0534DSC_0536It didn’t take me long to find some absolutely beautiful blooms on this one! My only objection to traipsing around that tree was that I kept walking into spiderwebs… but such is life.DSC_0538

DSC_0537DSC_0541Some of the best blossoms were almost on the ground, as this magnolia’s branches draped all the way to “floor level”. Actually, its bottom branches have been lopped off, as well as those from two sides of the tree. I wonder why? But still, the bottom-most branches still draped to the ground, anyway, creating this odd pattern of bare-sided tree. Ok, bare-sided, once you’re almost under the branches.DSC_0539

DSC_0542DSC_0543As you can see, quite a few were past the flower stage, and on the way to developing the fruit of the tree, with seeds to scatter. If I remember correctly, their seeds are red, and quite beautiful.DSC_0547DSC_0544One of my favorites had its petals winding around, almost into a spiral. I tried to put it into black-and-white, for contrast, but the photo is actually too bright, and the lines not sharp enough. Sigh. I’m working on this, still.Another reminder of size, in case you’ve never seen one… the petals on each flower are about the size of my hand, perhaps bigger. Also, the leaves are even bigger, and very glossy. No wonder that lizard had no trouble walking between petal and flowers, the other week. The petals and leaves are quite sturdy and “thick”, compared to the leaves on most trees.DSC_0548

DSC_0558Thumbelina could easily live in this type of tree, and never break through leaf or petal, if she jumped up and down!DSC_0549DSC_0551So, as magnolia season is close to ending, this is what I came up with on one sunny afternoon, on the Clemson University campus. Hope you enjoyed the trip.  : )DSC_0560DSC_0553

lizards after the rain…

On one of my magnolia hunts, I knew it was unlikely that some of the blossoms would even have survived the beating they took in the recent rainstorms. Nevertheless, I went to see if any buds had waited until the return of the sun. DSC_0361

I found that lots of flowers were so wet that they attracted a lot of bugs, making them less photogenic, for sure. But while looking at one magnolia, I noticed another inhabitant. Can you see him?DSC_0363

DSC_0364Before you get too worried, he isn’t in the first or the last picture in this post. Don’t want anyone straining their eyes for what isn’t there!  : )DSC_0369

DSC_0371After he jumped off the magnolia blossom, I watched the lizard crawl out onto a branch. I wished my camera lens could be longer, but did my best to get some pictures of him, before he ran away into the greenery. The petals of a magnolia would certainly make a comfortable bed for one of them, and probably a good place to catch bugs.DSC_0374