Thursday, May 31, 2012

Foxglove Tease

My Foxgloves are perfect this year! I've been taking hundreds of photos of them since they were small buds. I'll do an entire post of them soon. 'Til then, here's a teaser post . . .

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: Thank You

The growing "bouquet" of Veterans' Poppies on my bike.  

The retired uniformed veteran that sits outside my grocery store during May has told me that I don't need to donate each time I see him, but I do. When I think of the sacrifices that my father, and grandfather, and countless older generations in my family made, and when I see the sacrifices that people in the Service are making today, it's the least I can do. I wish it could be more. I hope we can find some answer besides war someday, and I hope that this country will rededicate itself to taking the best care of its returning veterans we possibly can, always and forever.
  • Why has the poppy become the symbol of American Veterans? There's a great story behind it and this website has the details. It's fascinating and moving! Link here.
One of my favorite pieces of "popular" music, "Heroes" by David Bowie, seems fitting today. This is a live performance in 1985 for the world-wide "Live-Aid" concert.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Photopourri: Happy Birthday To Me

Just in time for my 55th birthday, this Japanese Iris bloomed today. I've counted about 55 buds, so I'm thinking of them as my birthday flower this year. My bearded Iris were very few this year, but it seems I can look forward to a bumper year of the Japanese variety.

This mahogany hybrid bearded Iris has taken to supporting itself against one of Pink Gardens' brick chimneys. Such a beautiful variety of Iris, with so many subtle color changes when you see them in person. This was a rainy day, hence the glistening raindrops.

A "plain" variety of bearded Iris, a beautiful solid gold color, next to a Siberian Iris. The bearded Iris flower first, followed by the Siberians and Japanese Irises.

This pale lavender hybrid bearded Iris is next to the vegetable garden, and it was the same rainy day as above. I've also planted Tiger lilies, Hostas, Day lilies, Thistles, Agastaches, Goldenrods, Ferns and Sedums. Morning glories will be flowering by late August or September.

Some of my Siberian Iris in the garden next to my porch. I have several clumps of these perennials all around the yard.

In the condos near Pink Gardens, these Daisies are profusely blooming right now. I love their simple beauty. They always remind me of an oilcloth tablecloth my mother used on the kitchen table when I was a kid.

My Foxgloves are so hearty this year! I have about seven flower stalks, and they're more than an inch wide at the bottom. They're almost 5-feet tall already, even though they're not even fully in bloom yet! Above, the buds on a flowerstalk a few days ago.

My Foxgloves as of today. They're opening from the bottom up and are just about 5 feet tall. Taller than my late mother was (and she would have loved these)!
I went to Guilford the other day to buy my dahlias for the season—just the next town over from Madison. I'll do a separate post on my dahlias soon, I bought ten plants this year, but this "classic" view of Guilford caught my attention. This is Guilford's stone gothic Episcopal Church's tower, visible behind the roof of the town's savings bank, itself housed in an 18th century Colonial home. Guilford, Connecticut, my home town, is one of the prettiest New England towns there is. And with its strict historic district, will remain so for decades to come.

Just on the edge of Pink Gardens' property, where our little private road starts, is this fantastic Tulip Poplar tree. There was one of these on my Aunt Hoohoo's property in Leete's Island, and it was her favorite tree. I'm so thrilled to have one so close to me today. I walk past it every day and I can't help but smile thinking of all the times in my childhood she'd lead me to the back of her property, a few acres away from the main house, and show me these yellow and orange flowers, high up on the branches of an ancient sky-high tree, shaped just like Tulips. It was just one of the millions of creative things she did with me, always pointing out the "special" things wherever we were. She could find 'em and I like to think I have that trait today.

A longer view of the Tulip Poplar tree. This one is about half the size of the one I remember at Hoohoo's, so I guess it has a long, long life ahead of it. It really is something to see a tree with flowers all over its canopy that for all the world, look like Tulips.

A baby Robin in its nest on Pink Gardens' property. I didn't notice them as I started pulling some vines down, but one of the neighbors soon told me where they were.

The black-capped night Heron has come back for a second year. It sits in the trees that border the brook/swamp in the backyard, waiting for the perfect dinner. It looks like Grandpa Munster to me! It has red eyes and a long white feather that curls around its head.

One little Canada Goose gosling accompanying its parents for lunch. This was taken in Madison next to Tuxis Pond in the center of town.

Yes, Zsa Zsa has returned. We haven't started sitting outside at happy hour yet, so she hasn't come within "hand" distance yet, but I'm sure she will. There are a few more smaller rabbits this year with her oh-so-casual personality, so I think they must be hers. She almost eats out of our hands.

B T W :
 This site has a list of "celebrities" born on May 27. Quite the motley crew if I do say so myself. I think I'd be scared to invite them all to one dinner, if that was possible, lol.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

FlowerColours, May 2012

Walking around town this week, I found this melon-colored Hibiscus, freshly planted in a container in front of one of our town's nicest restaurants.

In town, also, are these Impatiens and mini Wave Petunias.

This hot pink peony is planted near the Guilford Green.

One of my pale blue bearded Iris, just after a rain storm.

June's pansy pots are loving their perfect mix of rain and sun.

A pale blue Iris, perfectly formed for today's photo.

The dark burgundy Iris blooming in front of one of Pink Gardens' brick fireplace chimneys.

Another gorgeous, painted flowerbox full of color, in town.

The burgundy Iris take on a completely different hue in the bright sunshine, much more magenta. Their golden beards stand out in the sun, too.

This vibrant, deep red peony was found near the Guilford Green. What a spectacular color. I've never seen such a dark red peony before!

One of my violet-color Iris in the middle of a light rain. No, I really don't know to come in from the rain!

A bluer-hued purple Iris variety is nearby. Those granite slab steps in the background date to Pink Garden's earliest history, the mid 1700s.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lisa Mikulski: Photographer Extraordinaire

Lay Down Beside Me and Whisper In My Ear. © Lisa Mikulski

G U E S T   P H O T O G R A P H E R — Today, I'm featuring some of the awesome work of my friend, Lisa Mikulski. Regular readers of this blog will remember I featured one of her photographs in April, an interior shot from my apartment, here. I asked her at the time if she'd give us a real treat and allow me to run some of her gorgeous portfolio of florals, and she graciously said yes. I'm just floored by her work, and I know you will be, too. 

In her own words, a bit of Lisa's back story on how she has absolutely attacked photography and mastered it in an incredibly short time. She writes that one of my photographs inspired her, which is inspiring itself. I know exactly which photo she's talking about, but just can't quite find it. Since I've published more than 5,000 photos in my blog in its short 2 1/2 year history, perhaps I can be forgiven, lol! Thank you, Lisa! And now, as they once said in Vaudeville, "Without further ado, Ladies and Gents, Lisa Mikulski!"
"I started taking photos in January 2011. The photo which started it all and inspired me to start photography, was the photo you [Casey] took from your porch during one of the 2011 blizzards—the one where the snow looked like strands of pearls. I was completely taken with that image and thought to myself “I should give photography a try.”  My family and friends laughed at me because prior to Jan 2011, I was the gal who would cut off your head or compose a photo so poorly that the subject would be lost in a background of confusion.
This little photo project was just something to play around with. . . but people responded in such positive ways that I kept at it. I was also very much encouraged and supported by my Artscope editor, Brian Goslow. When the editor of a major art magazine says “You’ve got something going on,” you tend to listen to him : )

So here we are, 16 months later, and I’ve taken about 30,000 photos. I don’t care for landscapes and it is rare if you see one of these images in my work. I don’t do birds in the marsh or weddings. The shots I go for, and think are my strengthens, are street photography or candids, and florals.

For me, photography is much akin to writing. Both are storytelling. . . photography is visual storytelling. 
Minimal in Black and White. © Lisa Mikulski
(I think with florals, color is wonderful, but black-and-white can show quite another viewpoint.)
 And Everything Was New. © Lisa Mikulski

When She Left the Room, She Only Left Behind the Essence of Her Perfume. © Lisa Mikulski

Untitled. Never before published. © Lisa Mikulski

Lilacs in the Night III. © Lisa Mikulski 
Note—Taken as I tried to sleep. The image here was originally illuminated by the light from my cellphone. I was quite taken with it. Got out of bed. Set up a small night light and—here we are. 
Lilacs in the Night IV. Never before published. © Lisa Mikulski

 For You© Lisa Mikulski

She was Feeling a Bit Pale.  © Lisa Mikulski
Note—Playing with post processing. I always compose my images in the camera. Many are SOOC—Straight Out of Camera—but I also think in some ways PP can really add imagination to a photograph. In some ways, PP can be the “art” of photography—but that's a whole other, bigger, conversation : )

 Hello Sunshine, After the Rain.  © Lisa Mikulski

 Waiting for My Ship to Come In.  © Lisa Mikulski

And Her Tears Fell Like Rain.  © Lisa Mikulski

Friday, May 18, 2012

Not a Cloud in the Sky

It was just a perfect day for a walk the other day. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temperatures were in the mid 70s. It was just the tiniest bit hazy on the water, which softened the horizon to the point that it blended with the sky. On really clear days, New York's Long Island can be seen, and on really, really clear days, the beige sand dunes can be differentiated from the darker flora above them. I love walking along our Long Island Sound no matter what the day is like.

This area's pale pink granite can be seen along the bottom of these photos. My family's granite quarry in Leete's Island, in the next town over, Guilford, furnished the stone for the base of the Statue of Liberty and several other well-known buildings and bridges in New York and New England.

It was just past low tide this day. These rocks are usually just about covered over at high tide.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dim All the Lights. Donna Summer Dead at 63

Another bit of my past is gone. Donna Summer, Disco Diva, has died of cancer at age 63. A quick rundown of her greatest hits reads like the first 10 years of my club life. Sure, she had her share of "bad press" through the years, may have made some anti-gay remarks at one point, but I didn't really care. Her music transcended any bitchiness or bad days on her part. Bad Girls, alone, will always make me smile with my Mona Lisa smile, remembering those afternoons folding sweaters and shirts over and over again trying to look busy at Ah Men's in West Hollywood, just waiting to hit the bars that night. I saw Ms Summer in concert in Connecticut once, and it was fairly unmemorable—hot in temperature and short in length. I remember that night more for my old friend Kevin and his Lincoln Mark VII LSC that brought us to the venue, er, um, swiftly, lol. But I also saw her in person once in Los Angeles. I was visiting a friend that worked at David Geffen's office on Sunset, and Ms Summer was walking out as I walked in. I glanced at her and said, "Love to love you, Baby," her first big hit. She looked at me and gave me the finger as she strode towards her awaiting Range Rover, lol. I just burst into laughter. It made my day, it made my night, and it made my month, actually—I was flipped off by Donna Summer!

For that 5 seconds locked in time, and for the soundtrack to my early adult life, I thank you, Donna. I wish you nothing but peace in your next journey. Dim All the Lights, it's our Last Dance, indeed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Purples, Pinks, Yellows, Reds, and Greens

Artandcolour Flowers in the Yard and in my Town

Irises blooming between a gas station and some stores, in the center of town. The golden "evergreen" shrub in the background is really attractive in small doses, as an accent, but is used too much here, in my opinion. . .

Aliums, blooming across the street from the beach. The owners of the summer cottage don't appear to have arrived for the season. Too bad they won't see their pretty purple perennials.

Hibiscus awaiting new owners is starting to flower outside of the local grocery store. They have a pretty nice selection of plants and I've had good luck with their flowers when I've bought them there.
My deep purple irises are just beginning to blossom this week. There are far fewer flowerstalks than last year, though. Perhaps the mild winter wasn't to their taste. Still, I'll take what I can get!

I have several varieties of ferns in Pink Gardens' yard. Whenever I find a new type in the woods around here, I transplant it into a garden and I've never lost one. I like this thick-lobed version. I also have frilly ones, tall ones, short ones, shiny ones and matte ones. I love their foliage.

A gorgeous early-blooming type of hydrangea is awash in white in town. The whole tree presents as a very full dogwood-type tree, about 15 feet high, as opposed to the more common shrub-type hydrangeas.

This flowering ornamental tree is across the street from my town's Historical Society building. I'm not positive what it is, perhaps a late cherry tree?

Tradescanthia blooming near the beach. The common name is Spiderwort. I have one in my yard, but it's just beginning to bud and flower.

Bright magenta beach roses are just beginning to flower. Many of these shrubs were devastated in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene last fall. They grow right on the sand dunes next to the water and thus many were ripped up by the waves or "poisoned" by the salt water flooding. The roots seem to have survived though and most are coming up fresh now.

Tiny wild strawberries are flowering by the side of the road.

Yellow honeysuckle vines. These are cultivated, not the more common wild variety and are stunning whether they're fully opened or just in their star-like closed buds.

My white-and-yellow bearded iris are just starting to flower. These are planted next to the vegetable garden, hence the chicken wire behind it. I really love these flowers!