Although Christmas Eve began with mist and fog and generalized dreariness, by noon the sun was shining , the yard was no longer muddy, and we were all eager to get out of the house. It was a perfect time to capture something involving ’round’.
Two hula hoops used to live in the trunk area of the ForeRunner until backing up one day into a crepe myrtle tree–surprisingly sturdy—necessitating the removal of all the dog toys, bowls, water jugs and so forth to replace the broken window–may I add my assistance in holding the window while nuts and bolts were tightened was quite essential to successful completion of the task. It rather reminded me of medical school days in which I was assigned to hold a Retractor so the surgeon could see and provide an educational experience for me—I could see nothing–but I did get some strong arms.
On to the project.
I set up my tripod–still not used to it but I won’t be if I don’t use it.
Dogs ran out eagerly–everything is their favorite thing to do. But they discovered a very naughty squirrel leaping from tree to tree–not where it was supposed to be–maybe the neighbor’s tree out of their sight? This job needed a lot of barking and jumping up to try to catch that squirrel–never mind us standing over there with husband holding hula hoops and me behind my camera.
Eventually they did come to see what we were up to—Dora being the first to give it a try. It was a hard concept–why jump through two hoops when you can jump one and walk through the second? She managed a few jumps but then Toby had discovered the large purple ball was not doing anything–and needed chasing about.
The hula hoops were set aside, no doubt wondering if those barking creatures were going to return.
Somehow that ball got stuck somewhere and Toby was ready to jump. She also could not figure out why anyone would jump through two hoops but then she watched Dora and knew she could out-perform–so sailing through both hoops as fast as she could both forwards and backwards–Foolishly I had not set my camera on sports mode but I managed to get a few good shots.
Having shown off her superior athletic skill, she promptly sat down by one hoop, Dora came over to sit on the other side—and the message was clear—Where is our reward for doing this jumping thing?
If you wish to see more shots of this adventure–this is about as exciting as we get these days–they are on my smugmug site here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/HouseinBeaumont/Toby/i-Ks3B9ZV/A
When we moved to Texas from Georgia, our origins being Wisconsin and Minnesota, my parents were excited to come see us—a grandchild being just one enticement.
Mom would call me once a week worried about flooding in other parts of the state, or huge blizzards cutting off power in the plains or a hurricane projected to demolish Brownsville—having little concept of the size of Texas and how many hours it would take to drive to those far away spots in the state.
When they finally arrived, they were sorely disappointed to find no cowboys riding the streets, no dust, no saloons with horses tied up outside, no cattle drives through the middle of town. Instead they found a coastal city with a few palm trees, abundant water, no winter except for an occasional day here and there but not even every year. Hurricanes were real but like blizzards a thing that could be planned for–in stocking up supplies–a bit different from the blizzard preparation but preparation none the less.
So I had always imagined Colorado as being just one huge set of mountains everywhere, always snow-capped. They boys and I went to Estes Park for a week of continuing education for me and lots of outdoor activities for them–including horseback riding–at the conclusion of that day they thought themselves expert.
My next trip to Colorado was to the southeastern corner not far from New Mexico–in the summer–it was green and lush–and lots of wildlife to see. Sunflowers were on the roadsides of every small road and the few mountains I did see did have snow caps but there were many that did not.
My last trip to Colorado was in mid November—the snow caps were there on a few mountains but the plains were now golden. Although Colorado is considerably smaller than Texas, it too has many faces to enjoy.
Although I had two years of Latin in high school—a very useful thing in terms of words and learning other languages, this phrase was always a mystery to me.
Carp are a fish local to Wisconsin known for in-edibility with numerous extensive recipes with many ingredients–cooking it on a board with spices and sundries–and then tossing the fish in the dumpster and eating the board instead.
I wondered about why I should be reminded to eat a fish daily particularly if it was a carp.
In medical school, I learned that the carpal bones were part of the hand–and I learned some not to be repeated limericks to remember their order…some of those limericks were more salacious than others and I have relegated them to distant memory so that I might not embarrass family and friends by reciting them as I pointed to the appropriate portion of their hands—a favorite between lecture activity in medical school.
In much later years I learned it meant to ‘seize the day’, take advantage of opportunities presented, not thinking that tomorrow that same opportunity would present itself.
When I was twelve, I was given a Brownie camera as a birthday present. Film was dear as was processing and so each photo was chosen with care. I still have one of those photos with the crinkled edges. I interpreted it in fabric in later years as I mined the shoe box full of family photos that my mother kept for some reason in the bathroom buried underneath well-worn towels.
Imagery that tells a story or gives a sense of place are my favorite kinds of photos–not ones that are heavily photo-shopped or made with techniques making them suitable for a calendar or greeting card.
The photo above–a wet leaf on a paving stone set in Judith Baker Montano’s garden in mid November of this year with my shadow to the left—is that day’s Carpe Diem image.
GRB is located only a block or so away from MinuteMaid Stadium–home of the Astros. Although the Astros were playing in LA while we were there, fans congregated inside MinuteMaid to watch the game on the giant screen. Traffic was incredible–but not as bad as Thursday when there was a celebratory parade through downtown Houston. There was a sea of orange and blue in the streets.
Look at all those baseballs!
We spent our day with Philippa Naylor learning about fancy seams and insertion of zippers–a fun class and we lined up next to her to have our photo taken. This day we chose to wear pink—actually I wore pink quite reluctantly. It seems a better choice for someone petite and dainty. I am on the left in this photo.
Although Houston is recovering from Harvey, there is a lot left to do. Discovery Green’s lawn is yellow–and no-one can walk on it; the sailboat pond is gone with large layers of some sort of plastic being laid down; there were only three pond lilies in the adjoining pond–which was filled with trash–the fish are also gone.
The World Series was a welcome relief to the sadness of recovery and the championship even more welcome.
An hour extra in the morning means time for photo editing before getting back to work—-and the unloading and re-sorting and re-organizing of things I bought, things I took, laundry, going through the mail and a few snuggles with the dogs.
We stayed in the Residence Inn on Main Street just south of the Medical Center–a conglomeration of several humongous hospitals. The first floor of all the buildings were under construction due to flooding from the nearby bayou—dry wall dust was everywhere but the staff were cheerful and the Krogers next door was fully stocked–easy to run over and collect something for supper.
I spent an afternoon wandering around downtown photographing buildings—usually the same buildings I have photographed before as they tend to be my favorites. George Brown Convention center has been enlarged immensely; there are now several surrounding huge hotels and several eating places. The front of the building had streamers floating over yellow umbrellas sheltering tables and chairs. On Friday night there was a fabulous gymnastic exhibition with teenage girls wearing sparkling harlequin outfits.
As it was November 1, I wanted to find a church to spend a few moments in—and that turned out to be Christ Church Cathedral–the second Episcopal Church in the Republic of Texas. The interior of this church is splendid with immense stained glass windows on three sides. And then there was the loose brick with St. Joe on it—I coveted—but did not abscond with it.
I was also pleased to see the old Texaco building on Rusk had been renovated to include luxury apartments and is now named The Star…after Texaco moved to a new building–the building fell into some disrepair and had homeless people sleeping under its veranda–smelled of urine and booze–but now it is sparkling.
A look at the Pennzoil building–my favorite and it was time to head back to the GRB.
Reunions are always a fun event–even though you have to read everyone’s name tag to remember who they are—and it would have been nice if a larger font would have used for those of us with forty years under our belts.
The Medical School reunion is always scheduled around Homecoming Football game. While we lived in Madison and I went to Medical school there, we lived about three miles from the football stadium–people parked next to our house to walk in to see the game. Tickets were outside of our meager budget even though I got a reduce price and first chance at tickets due to graduate school status.
My wishes for the weekend were to see Vilas Park zoo–a favorite place during our stay there, and to walk out on Picnic Point.
The zoo has changed considerably since we were there last. Each animal species has a special environment created for them. No longer do the bears sit on the haunches and wave at us begging for marshmallows or stale hamburger buns. The retired Rhesus monkeys are no longer there–they used to live in a circular cage. The penguins are no longer corralled into a small cement wading pool parading around miserably in what must seem to them horribly hot weather.
one of the displays was this tundra with the immense tires with incredibly low tire pressure. We rode a much smaller vehicle on the marshes around Anahuac during a Christmas bird count after one of our hurricanes. Here is Glen pretending to drive.
Madison Wisconsin is a beautiful city situated around several lakes, Mendota being the largest. The campus is large and spread out with lovely little pocket gardens everywhere and lots of bicycle racks. There is almost no parking on campus so people ride the bus or bicycle or walk. We walked to Picnic Point–there are Indian burial grounds now marked off from foot traffic.
A sailboat was out on the lake–losing a lot of wind and not managing their sails properly.
The capitol was visible across the lake through the trees.
Walking about campus to the designated meeting area we noted a new trend—large hammocks slung from trees with students lounging about in them reading–reminiscent of a past trial of what I called our purple pea pod camping sleeping arrangement..
Walking back to Deljoje Hall, the location of the reunion, the marching band was practicing. I was not the only one to stop and watch the band perform.
After a morning of weeding and general garden cleanup and attacking weeds, we both decided a nice drive in the countryside would be nice and maybe some good photo ops.
We hopped in the car, my camera at the ready in my lap and off we went.
I didn’t get a photo of Hogback Ridge–it is immense and is a protected wildlife site. The hill sides are quite steep and the soil must be quite thin as only grass grows there–few if any trees–and those are all small shrubs. There were a few late blooming wild flowers in the meadows surrounding it. I’m not quite sure how I would have taken a photo–perhaps a panorama–not in my skill set although my camera says it can do it with ease.
Our goal was the Elk Farm. Along the way we spied two apiaries–and I had to get out and inspect one of them. Keeping bees in Wisconsin is challenging due to the lengthy and cold winters–but here were about twelve hives with bees busily flying in and out. Queen excluders were on each hive–they had two brood chambers and two medium supers for honey and a pitched roof for ventilation. The bottom doors were plugged and they had just a single hole in one of the brood chambers to exit and enter. Maybe next year we will be successful in catching a swarm.
However, our mission was that elk farm.
We spied a very high fence–and knew we were there. Parking on the side of the road, I attempted to get photos of the elk.The male–doesn’t he get a bad headache carrying that huge set of horns around–sat calmly watching us. The harem though was not so calm. One or two would look and then they all got up and walked away.
More driving and I spotted some Canadian geese–the SandHill Cranes on the first corner were too far away for photos. We stopped and I took some photos–again–they waddled away as fast as they could go.
Next was stop to photo some particularly colorful trees and sumac. The Asian beetles and box elder bugs were in abundance and took great delight in taking small nibbles of me. The leaves and sumac were pretty but not enough to compose really good photos.
We went back to the farm and put up plastic over windows for the winter–safe from the horde of biting bugs.
Like little kids at a buffet of desserts–or perhaps us older ones at Thanksgiving dinner, we always seem to overestimate the time we have in Wisconsin to do all the things we have planned. Or perhaps it is because we just move slower now that we are a bit older. Maybe that Social Security paycheck weighs us down?
Or maybe it’s because we just enjoy the sights and smells and sounds so unique to rural Wisconsin in the fall.
There is is the rustling of the leaves, the views of distant hills so obvious through trees that are dropping their leaves—and the vibrant colors of those that have not.
The woods there are primarily oak–which regrettably turn dark brown or just fall off–leaving their limbs bare. But here and there are some maples–the camera makes their colors more reddish than my eyes see–but gorgeous none the less.
Last week’s photo assignment was ‘BIG”. Texas is big, of course—and driving across Texas whether east to west or north to south is a very long day’s drive. I thought immediately of the giant heads of famous Texans along I-10 in Houston or the huge statue of Sam Houston on I-45 outside of Huntsville. That would have meant a trip solely for the purpose of taking a photo.
I decided I wanted to try making something that might not be so big–LOOK big. And this is what I came up with.
This pile of rocks from my garden pond have lain in my driveway for a year now—or maybe two. The original rubber base was filled with several holes as Toby decided there was something evil about it that needed chewing on. That base was supposed to last thirty years—it lasted three. We pulled it out and it is now under my beehives preventing the invasion of pests.
I tried several angles to avoid getting anything in the frame that might suggest the rocks are actually about two handfuls in size.
For many years I sat down with a pile of photos and clippings from the past year and put them in an album, remembering the year as I went and composing our annual Christmas letter. Those photos are slowly fading away and so we have undertaken the project of converting them to digital.
My mother-in-law’s house has been slowly sorted out and distributed; she is still living but in an assisted living home. We have been the recipients of boxes of books, linens, old letters, and now photographs. As I sort through them I can only think of all those people in our area who lost everything–including photos and mementos.
One of my nephews lost everything in a tragic fire—but being of the age he is–kept his photos electronically–and so many of the memories are still there.
This photo is of my middle son proudly mounted on ‘Smokey’ the best horse ever on his first riding at Estes Park YMCA in Colorado.