Animal Kingdom in the Suburbs

Lucy loves sniffing and tracking the different animals that appear in our backyard.

Growing up in suburban Baltimore, I saw my share of squirrels,

chipmunks,

deer,

moles,

and raccoons.

And although they weren’t seen much, skunks made their presence known.

I had no idea that suburban New Jersey–directly west of Manhattan–would be home to all those animals and more. Recently, we received a new “visitor” to our backyard. It wasn’t this cute raccoon resting in a tree,

I spotted this raccoon high up in a tree and ran to get my camera.

or the opossum that chatters at night, 

or the groundhog that tunnels under our yard,

or the wild turkey that displays its feathers for the ladies,

or the Box Turtle that gave me a kiss, 

This box turtle showed up in my garden.

or the Red Fox we see at dawn and dusk, 

but–drumroll please–

a COYOTE!

At first I thought it was a fox because it looked more like this, but redder.

I told my family, “It’s strange, I saw a Red Fox at ten in the morning.They’re usually asleep by then.”

The next day, Hubby said, “Come quick! There’s a coyote in our backyard!”

I said, “That’s the fox I saw!”

He said, “It’s a coyote!”

“A fox!”

“A coyote!”

“A fox!”

“It’s a coyote! I know from watching Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.”

Hon, do you see the resemblance? 

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Knitted Cable Baby Blanket

OMG! Isn’t this the sweetest picture of big sisters with their baby brother?

Knitted Cable Baby Blanket

What to knit when a dear friend is expecting her third child and doesn’t know what she’s having?

I picked up 35 Knitted Baby Blankets for the Nursery, Stroller and Playtime by Laura Strutt at my favorite knitting store Wool & Grace, and chose a pattern for a cream blanket–the color of the crochet edge tbd (to be determined). I hadn’t cabled since college, but it came back quickly. I love how this blanket turned out. New mommy loves it also. Yay!

Darling Baby Boy with his new blanket.

Sources: 35 Knitted Baby Blankets by Laura Strutt, Wool & Grace

Heroes Proved and Patriot Dream

My son at White Sands National Monument, NM. Photo taken by his sister Morgan. Isn’t this photo is outstanding?!

Selfie: me and my son.

Me, my son, and his buddy.

Lucky me! My flexible schedule allowed me to plan a last minute trip to visit my son before he deployed. The last two stanzas of America the Beautiful bring tears to my eyes.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

 

For more info: Soledad Canyon, White Sands National Monument

Amber Waves and Mountain Majesties

Soledad Canyon in the Organ Mountains, New Mexico

On a recent trip to El Paso, Texas, my son and I drove to Las Cruces, New Mexico to hike Soledad Canyon. The canyon sits in the western foothills of the Organ Mountains, which originated about 32 million years ago in the middle of the Tertiary Period. I immediately thought of America the Beautiful.

Here are the first two stanzas of America the Beautiful.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

If you’ve been to the Southwest, did you have a favorite place to hike?

Source: http://www.npshistory.com/publications/blm/organ-mountains-desert-peaks/geology.pdf

Top Ten Cool Facts About Plains Lubber Grasshoppers

Plains Lubber Grasshopper

In my last post, Tarantula Territory, I lamented that I didn’t see any tarantulas on a hike but, guess what I did see? A Plains Lubber Grasshopper! The approximately five-inch insect caught my attention–how could it not?–and I had to get a closer look. I looked at her and she at me. We bonded.

I can’t believe I got such a clear photo of her awesome exoskeleton, which protects her against predators and prevents dehydration. (Come to think of it, that could be a great pick-up line. “Excuse me, but you have an awesome exoskeleton.”) Plains Lubbers are native to southern and central USA and Northern Mexico.

Top Ten Cool Facts About Plains Lubber Grasshoppers

  1. A Plains Lubber can’t fly because its wings are too small.
  2. A lubber has a pod that holds approximately 20-35 eggs. After incubating in the ground during the colder months, or for as long as two years, the eggs hatch in May or June.
  3. It uses two pairs of eyes (simple and compound) to see.
  4. It uses its bluish-brown antennae to feel and smell.
  5. The tympanum, or round membrane located on either side of its body near its legs allows it to “hear” or detect sound waves.
  6. To breathe, it has spiracles, or tiny holes located all along the abdomen.
  7. A lubber is capable of jumping from several inches to several feet using its oversized hind legs.
  8. A young lubber will molt its exoskeleton five times at roughly 15-day intervals before reaching adulthood.
  9. Bright coloring and patterning on a lubber’s shell warns predators that it’s unpalatable to downright poisonous. A lubber ingests substances in the plants it eats that, although harmless to humans and the lubber itself, are toxic to many predators. These chemicals may kill smaller creatures such as birds or leave larger animals quite ill after ingesting a lubber.
  10. To protect against predators, a lubber can secrete a noxious foam while making a loud hissing sound. It can also regurgitate a dark brown liquid (commonly called tobacco spit) as a defense.

Hon, which category are you in? Cool or ewww?

For all of the ewww’s, consider the photos below as visual palette cleansers.

Peace along the path.

I “heart” hiking.

 

 

 

 

 

Reaching for the sky.

Sources: The Big Zoo, American Orchid SocietyWikipedia, 

Roof Garden Art, The Theater of Disappearance

Stork.

Baby.

A visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the roof. Not only do you get an amazing view of Manhattan, you get to explore changing exhibitions. On view until October 29, 2017 is sculptor Adrián Villar RojasThe Theater of Disappearance, a “performative diorama, where banquet tables occupy an oversize black-and-white checkerboard floor punctuated by sculptures that fuse together human figures and artifacts found within the museum. The resulting juxtapositions put forth a radical reinterpretation of museum practices.”

Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas has transformed the Cantor Roof with an intricate site-specific installation that uses the Museum itself as its raw material. Featuring detailed replicas of nearly 100 objects from The Met collection, The Theater of Disappearance encompasses thousands of years of artistic production over several continents and cultures, and fuses them with facsimiles of contemporary human figures as well as furniture, animals, cutlery, and food. Each object—whether a 1,000-year-old decorative plate or a human hand—is rendered in the same black or white material and coated in a thin layer of dust.

The artist has reconfigured the environment of the Cantor Roof by adding a new pergola, a grand tiled floor, a bar, public benches and augmented planting throughout the space. The Met’s own alphabet has even been incorporated into the graphic identity of the project. To realize this extensive work, the artist immersed himself in the Museum and its staff for many months, holding conversations with the curators, conservators, managers, and technicians across every department who contributed to the realization of this installation.

Hidden woman.

Traveler.

Kissing couple.

Man with eels and rock.

Masked man.

In honor of my love of art, and especially Impressionists, check out new Edgar Degas exhibits on Artsy. In addition to Degas’s bio, over 200 of his works, and exclusive articles, you’ll find up-to-date Degas exhibition listings such as The National Gallery in London exhibit Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell, and an upcoming show at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Related post: Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty

Happy viewing, hon.

Epitaph-Repost

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Today is a year since my mom passed, so I’m sharing these beautiful quotes in her memory.

“…we should be remembered for the things we do. The things we do are the most important things of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honour heroes after they’ve died. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honour the Pharaohs. Only instead of being made out of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you. That’s why your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of with stone.”
― R.J. Palacio

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
― Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

I wear a veil of sadness. My mother’s illness and passing has left me unmoored, so please bear with me as I stand in an ocean, the waves lapping and tugging, lapping and tugging.

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Epitaph by Merrit Malloy

When I die

Give what’s left of me away

To children

And old men that wait to die.

 

And if you need to cry,

Cry for your brother

Walking the street beside you.

And when you need me,

Put your arms

Around anyone

And give them

What you need to give to me.

 

I want to leave you something,

Something better

Than words

Or sounds.

 

Look for me

In the people I’ve known

Or loved,

And if you cannot give me away,

At least let me live on in your eyes

And not your mind.

 

You can love me most

By letting

Hands touch hands,

By letting bodies touch bodies,

And by letting go

Of children

That need to be free.

 

Love doesn’t die,

People do.

So, when all that’s left of me

Is love,

Give me away.

Birthday Girl-Repost

My mom and third granddaughter.

My mom and third granddaughter.

Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday. I’m re-posting this, along with an introspective quote, in her memory. 

“The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again and again we avoid the long thoughts….We cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not, after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need—not all the time, surely, but from time to time—to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember—the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.”

― Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces

Roof Garden Art, Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout

Hedge Two-way Mirror Walkabout.

Hedge Two-way Mirror Walkabout.

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When I visit the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, I try to visit the roof garden. Not only are installations interactive, the view of Central Park is beautiful.

I hope to get to The Met’s current roof garden Installation, The Theater of Disappearance by Adrián Villar Rojas, which in on display until October 29, 2017.

Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout, exhibited in 2014, was created by American artist Dan Graham and Swiss landscape architect Günther Vogt. “Comprising curves of steel and two-way mirrored glass between ivy hedgerows, Graham’s structure is part garden maze and part modernist skyscraper façade, set within a specially engineered terrain.” The glass was “both transparent and reflective, creating a changing and visually complex environment for visitors.”

“For decades, Dan Graham has created work that challenges viewers to think in new and thought-provoking ways about the streets and cities they traverse every day,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum.

For the artist, the mirrored cladding of a corporate headquarters symbolizes economic power and sleek efficiency; it also provides a certain camouflage, reflecting the world around it as it shields what happens inside from prying eyes.

With this signature material, Graham’s pavilions also transform observers of the work into performers within it, and, through the sight of their own reflections, make them acutely aware of their own viewership.

The evergreen plantings that edge the parapets also reminded Graham of the shrubbery that often demarcates private property lines in the New Jersey suburbs of his youth. Graham’s collaboration with Günther Vogt further illuminates the site’s multilayered references—historic gardens, public parks, contemporary corporate architecture, and the suburban lawn—as its pavilion engages the viewer in a historic and complex mirror-play.

Glass and steel "pavilion."

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” Emile Zola

Sources:

Click here to link to The Met’s page with a cool video on how the art was installed.

Click Interesting interview with Dan Graham to learn more about Graham’s work.

Spring Sign

Robert Indiana’s $3 million, 13-foot tall, 3-ton pop art sculpture “Hope” is located on the corner of 7th Ave and 53rd St in Manhattan.

Happy Spring, hon!

“The sun just touched the morning;
The morning, happy thing,
Supposed that he had come to dwell,
And life would be all spring.”
― Emily Dickinson


“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.”
― John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga