Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Learning to Fly



The first image was made this summer when Aurora and I took Georgia Rose up to Lake Ontario to swim. A recent storm had knocked down a huge chunk of the looming cliffs that make up Chimney Bluffs. The water was milky brown instead of the usual clear blue. Georgia Rose wasn't sure that the waves were safe,  and required enormous coaxing out into the water. Her life jacket didn't fit as well as it did two years ago. She'd grown a little.

The fallen clay and trees and misc debris that had fallen with the cliffside made it so that the beach access heading west was gone. Totally blocked. The only way around was to swim out into deeper water and brave the snags and unseen things in the water. Aurora and I discussed the possibilities and decided that foregoing our walk along the beach was a small price to pay for the knowledge that we would (all three of us!) be safe. 

The second image is of Aurora and Sandy, during Aurora's first summer discovering that she could, in fact, swim. We gave her a snorkel and mask... and the next thing we knew, she was off on her own, cruising the pool. At first her forays were along the walls, keeping safety within easy reach. As the weekend progressed, she gained more faith in her abilities and by the time we left Misquamicut she was a swimmer to the core. 

Red Cross classes for the next few years would see her progress up to the final lifesaving class which they refused to let her get at age ten or eleven because no one would hire her to lifeguard until she was 18. Never mind that she could lift the bricks off the bottom and perform all of the rescues that were required... she  was just too young (little) to pass the lifesaving test according to the Red Cross. The following summer would see Aurora in the middle of Cayuga Lake in a torrential electrical storm. Her sailing class had been out in little Opties... bathtubs with sails. A summer storm had come up quickly and now there were three foot waves with whitecaps roaring. Aurora's boat, like most of her classmates had capsized and filled with water. Everyone was being slowly rescued by the camp motorboat... but Aurora was left for last. She was relaxed in the water. Calm in the face of the storm. She knew she wouldn't drown... the  motorboat knew where her sailboat was... and as the chain of swamped boats was tied together and hauled to shore, Aurora's was the last boat in the line. 

Where am I going with this? 

I think we learn through adversity and failure. If things always worked just fine, I doubt we would really ever learn. This week Aurora started her first semester of college at Reed in Portland OR. She sent me her schedule of classes for the term and I gulped. She is signed up to take some heavy duty classes. Far more serious than my freshman year... but I know she can do it. I know that she will need someone to offer her that handhold for a short while... and then she'll be off and zooming. I also know that when storms hit and toss everything helter skelter, she'll be prepared and relaxed. It doesn't make it any easier to watch though! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Getting There



Portland is Canadian

Folks here are way too nice. They are so freakin' polite they cant merge into traffic. It took four days of driving and cutting folks off before I finally got honked at! I said: Sorry ... And all was forgiven. Sooo west coast!

Totally unprepared.

She has moved into Reed. She's met her dormies. She meets with her adviser today. Time for us to fly back home. We're leaving a huge chunk of ourselves here in Portland.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Tickling Bumblebees




That moment when I bumblebee is so intent on the flower's nectar that you can get close enough to touch them.... that is the moment we called "tickling the bees". We could stroke their backs, gently. We have been doing it since Aurora was probably younger than five. Today was one of those calm days where the bees were loud and active. Pollen baskets were full on most of the bees I saw. I found one huge bumbler who was nearly the size of my thumb. I stroked his back gently, being careful not to disturb the massive pollen collection he had.

As I walked back towards the house I realized that we have some very odd traditions in our family. I felt a pang of loss, knowing that next spring, Aurora would be carrying on this tradition on the other side of the country.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Driving Color


After nearly ten years of garden neglect (five since the coma), I finally moved many of my daylilies this spring. Back when I first planted these daylilies, there were only a few dozen (okay, that's a lie... I planted over a hundred...but who's counting?)

It has now been more than a decade of watching them get overrun by weeds and grass. When the tiny shoots first popped up this year, I tried to dig as many out as I possibly could and replanted them with all of the new roses from Der Rosenmeister Nursery in Ithaca. I wasn't expecting any of the daylilies to bloom, given the shock of transplanting and the weirdness of our very dry spring.


Surprise! This has been the biggest year of blooms ever! I am seeing blooms on daylilies that I had no idea we had. Rich color and huge blooms are everywhere!! So how many did I end up moving this spring? Well over 200 at last count. There are still over 200 more still in pots waiting to be divided and replanted. Exhausts me just thinking about it.


I am realizing as I watch things growing in, that I am really bad about judging space between plants. Inevitably, I plant things way too close together. The upside is that the garden beds look great this year! Next year though, things are going to need to be divided again I guess. I should probably join a plant trade group and swap with folks who have vines (which we need) or shrubs etc. Anyone need some amazing daylilies?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Summer Sunset


Summer sunsets can be dramatic or boring as can be. So much depends on cloud cover and the amount of moisture in the air. My favorite images are usually taken immediately after a storm has passed overhead.

Last night we were at Lodi Point on Seneca Lake. The sky was about as bald as it can be. Just about the time the sun was starting to set a line of thick grey clouds came over the western horizon and totally blotted out the sun. I waited around for a while, hoping that the sky would have some dramatic changes in color or texture. Nope.

To make the most of the slowly moving clouds, and hoping to squeeze a little bit of color out of the swiftly setting sun, I put a 6 stop ND filter on my Fuji 18-55mm f/2.8-4R... and aimed for that sweet spot of about 30 seconds exposure.

My next goat is to find something interesting for my foreground, to draw the eye while allowing the sky and water to do their thing. That means I will be looking for interesting docks and lake-side attractions like overhanging trees, large rocks, etc. Can't wait for the weather to cooperate!