Saturday, September 26, 2009

So Pretty

The bundle of radishes from the first CSA Saturday were so pretty that they looked like a wedding bouquet to me. I took a low light self-portrait and edited the grainy photo with software. This is the result. I love it. Never mind that I cropped out blood stains on my white shirt from my son's bicycle fall during our afternoon ride in the first constant sunshine in weeks.

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Unexpected Growth

This poke berry plant is growing in the large fork where my live oak divides. This same nook has also been the past home to a small magnolia that I pulled out at least three or four times-- always feeling a little guilty. Some bird or squirrel probably dropped a seed that fell into just enough deposited organic matter to take root.

We never know where we will send out roots or where our seeds will drop and bear fruit.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Treasure Bags

Even though it is the first day of autumn, we are far away from chilly weather and leaves changing their colors in the South. To mark the beginning of the season, I made these "fall treasure bags" for the children and the future walks we will take to gather leaves and other signs of seasonal change. The pattern is from this book. Instead of using recycled mesh screen for the body of the bag as in the pattern, I used some burlap that was on hand and scraps of other fabric in my stash.

We are ready for you, Autumn!
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

For Sister

This log cabin blanket started back in March was given to its new owner last night at a farewell party. She leaves for climates much colder than Mississippi, and we hope that this blanket will keep her warm as she reads, watches her favorite teams, or works at her desk. We hope it will remind her of the love and prayers that go with her.


Weaving in the Ends
Purple : 2
Nature's Knitting : XII
Nature's Knitting : XI
Nature's Knitting : X
My Secret Garden of Yarn

Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic in blues, purples, and pinks
Needles: size 6
Instructions: Mason-Dixon gals (Joseph's Blankie of Many Colors)
Co-knitters: Kathy Devenney and Julie Owen
Owner of the blanket and principal extraordinaire: Sister Brenda Monahan

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Friday, September 18, 2009

After School : 2

"A football game? You went to a football game?" Astonishment.

" Yes, we did."

People who know my family know that we are not team sports watchers. We all have our physical outlets-- running, walking, biking, pilates, hiking, yoga, swimming, and just being kids-- but we don't spend time playing or watching team sports as a general rule.

My daughter's art assignment and a friend's invitation to go along with them for the same assignment got us out to the field (some of her photos are here). We watched the players, marveled at the cheerleaders and their ability to smile through every cheer, and looked closely at the lines and perspectives of the field from different vantage points. We took our little camera to capture a few shots for more detailed drawing. I liked the contrast of the referees uniform in the first photo, the looming sky in the second, the shadows of the cheerleaders in the third, and the spontaneous play of the last photograph.

And we all did some socializing in the stands-- talking and hand-clapping games included. That's the best part about a football game.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

After School : 1

I bought a bike (for myself!) a couple of weeks ago so that I could go bike riding with the children in the afternoons after school. School schedules are tough, and we all need a physical break after work and classes before we start homework, lesson planning, dinner, and preparations for the next day.

Today it was overcast enough in between rains to keep the temperature down, but I can't wait for the cooler temperatures of fall.
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Family Art Night

On Thursday night, I attended a Family Art Night organized by one of my friends at my son's school. Over 100 people attended, and I was charged with taking a few photos here and there. It was an awesome event full of creativity and community building.

I loved these elephants painted and drawn by some of the children who attended the event. They make me smile.

Elephants are cool animals on their own. Elephants drawn by children are even cooler.

Happy weekend!

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Woods Walking

There is almost nothing else I like to do more than to go for a walk in the woods. The act can instantly paint a dark mood brighter, enliven my mind, and restore my spirit.

After our butterfly release, we went to the Clinton Community Nature Center with friends for a short program about arachnids (spiders and scorpions, oh my!). My son spotted a large spider hanging about 4 ft above us from a web stretched across the path from tree to tree. We tried to photograph it, but it was too high.

The loblolly pine that looks like an elephant head is nicknamed the elephant tree with its trunk reaching high into the sky. This tree reminds me of the walking and talking trees and magical animals that appear in the books of C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.

We visited the butterfly garden hoping to see some of our black swallowtails, but there were only yellowish/green butterflies quickly fluttering from flower to flower. I think they were colias philodice or clouded common sulfurs seen here from caterpillar to butterfly. It was difficult to photograph them because they were so flighty. The meadow area was abuzz with singing insects, but it was also hotter in the open sunlight. For amateur butterfly identification, I found this internet guide helpful.

When I was a girl, I sometimes walked in the woods with my family and grandparents at a small farm in central Arkansas on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. There were no trails but there were lots of leaves carpeting the floor of the woods. My grandfather knew the names of the trees and the birds. He was not a hunter, but he was an amateur naturalist. I think I may have inherited some of his nature genes, and I hope I am passing them on to my children each time we go woods walking.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Butterfly Morning

Just when I didn't know what I was going to write on this sleepy, Saturday morning, I remembered to check on our caterpillars and chrysalises. We had a butterfly!

It seemed rather frantic to get out and didn't have a lot of room to spread its wings in the container because the stick that had held its now empty chrysalis was dividing the container in half. So with the help of my son, we took it outside and carefully pried off the lid to the container. The butterfly immediately crawled onto my son's hand, up his arm, onto his back, around his neck, up his chin, over his closed eye (at this point the tickly feeling was a little too much), and onto his forehead. I was quickly snapping photos while my son began to get nervous. What mother doesn't want a butterfly/bare skin photo of her child? This butterfly was a quick crawler-- almost as fast as the geckos that hang out all over our house at night.

After coaxing the butterfly off of my son with a stick, I tried to take a few photos with the other hand. Finally, I put him on some lantana to finish drying his wings. We know it is a male because there is more yellow and less blue when the wings are open.

My friend wrote about her chrysalis and some different caterpillars here. We have one large caterpillar munching away, one very small caterpillar munching away, and one green chrysalis which is special to us because all of our other black swallowtail chrysalises have been brown. Our last black swallowtail immediately flew away when we opened the container, so it was a gift to be able to watch and photograph this one up close for a while.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Nellie has been "walk-about" since Saturday. One, two, three. . . going on four. . . days. We are all fighting back occasional tears because we know that she may not come back. Her doctor removed a cancerous tumor in June and said that it would likely return.

This summer, she was in the front of the house or in the garage every day enjoying the warmth of the sun and high temperatures. She rested a lot and came in occasionally to sit on my lap at night. She watched us come and go and would barely move out of the way when we pulled in the driveway.

By the weekend, we will need to hold a memorial service for her if she does not appear.

I will miss her green eyes, the way she chased and fetched her little green ball when she was young, her quiet purr, and her still way of nestling down on my chest for a good snuggle. She was feisty and fussy, but she was loyal. She was a fierce hunter in her day catching a rabbit on my feet when we first met her and be-heading many a mole or lizard. She moved from Nashville, to Tunica, to Sewanee, to West Point, and to two houses in Jackson. She survived two big dogs, an Uncle Jerry, two babies, and a black cat.

I hope Maggie (our beloved, big, black German shepherd) will greet her with a wagging tail and a wet nose as she always did, and I hope Nellie will swat her back as she always did and give a little hiss of a smile to see her again. After that, she can jump in Uncle Jerry's lap for a nice nap.

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