Sunday, August 10, 2014

There's Nothing Like a New Toy ...

to divert one's attention!

Attended my first digital photography class on Tuesday and have had my head behind the lens all week.  We had homework.  You would NOT have wanted me to not do my first homework assignment ... would you?  I knew you wouldn't.

This week we learned to do this:

and this:

There's one more thing, but I haven't done that yet.

Even if it takes me a while to get comfortable with all the things one can do manually, there is always automatic on which I can fall back.  (Ms. Eula Snelson would be proud of that sentence!)  But these are all manual.

See the bee? dead center ...

There's not much happening in the garden right now.  We're in that hot and dry phase between effusive early summer and the rebound of early fall.  Thank goodness for the cutting garden and the planters!  Everything has its role. 

Happily, I'm feeling anything but hot and dry right now.  Mind engaged and looking forward to the coming Tuesday to see what new things I can learn.  Oh, and I still need to do that last homework exercise....

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tiny Steps to the Future

A little more than a year ago I was lamenting the fact that I had 27 more months to work before retirement.  One of you - very helpfully - pointed out to me that anyone can do anything for 2 years and that it would fly by before I realized it.  She was right, of course. 

But things also change over time.  After a particularly difficult week at work I had a revelation.  While i really do love the people with whom i work, and for the most part enjoy the work i do ...  the partners for whom i work would never move ahead in hiring a replacement if I didn't do something serious. 

I sat down with one of the partners and gave her a definite date - June 1, 2015.  It's not that i am especially good at my job, it's just that i have done it a long time and they trust me.  (I have worked with one of the three partners for more than 20 years, and for another for more than ten.)  They just keep putting off the hiring process because they are concerned about finding someone they can trust.
Azalea 'Vanilla Strawberry' - August 3, 2014

I get that, but i am done.  Seriously ... June 1st  - a mere 10 months away. 

So, i now have a bad case of "Short-timer's Disease".  I am treating it, by taking small steps to get ready.

Step # 1:  One of my long-held plans was to get a better camera and learn to take better photos.  Mitchell celebrated my birthday by giving me a digital SLR camera... a lovely one.  Initially, i put it away planning to pull it out next year.  Then I realized how stupid that was.  So, Tuesday i begin a month-long class in using my wonderful camera.  I have taken off the time to attend the class and to practice. 

I hope you will be the beneficiaries of any progress i make. 

 These are my first untutored (i.e., point and shoot) photos with my new camera.  It's the Hydrangea 'Vanilla Strawberry' that I first shared about six weeks ago.  You can see that the panicles have started started changing color - from white to pink to darker pink.  I think it will darken even more.

Now I am remembering, tho, that azaleas have trouble staying pink in our acid soil.  Don't know if I need to enjoy it a lot this year, because it will be purple and white next year.  Time will tell ...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A New Dominion .... Maybe Someday Soon

Warning:  The following is political.  I try to avoid that, but some things are too important.  Feel free to just skip this and come back another day.   But, you were warned.

Yesterday was historic - at least in this little part of the planet.  The U.S. District Court for the 4th Judicial Circuit struck down Virginia's law prohibiting the marriage of people of the same gender.  Wow!  Hurrah! Dancing in the streets last night and all that good stuff.

Of course, it will be appealed and a Stay will begin today, but it's a huge step forward for this state which is perhaps the most purple in the nation. 

If you are still reading, I have only three points:

1) After 30+ years of marriage (to a person of the opposite gender), I can think of no way that the marriage of two women or two men would challenge my marriage in any way.

2) Children need two (or perhaps more) loving parents.  The pieces parts don't really mean anything ... just the love. 

3) As a nation we need to separate the legal and religious components of marriage.  A close friend of mine is a Methodist minister.  When he performs a marriage he ends by saying, "By the power vested in me by The Commonwealth of Virginia, I now pronounce you man and wife."  All the ceremony that comes before may be the "church part" but the power comes from the state.  That's what we need to change.  We need to provide a way that a couple - any willing adult couple - can go to a state-sanctioned official to be united legally and then they can deal with the church in the way that is right for them.  Some states provide that - one can get married by a clerk at the courthouse.  But many others - including Virginia - do not.  It needs to be the standard.

This change is coming and we need to just get over it and move on.  Next stop ... the Supremes! 

"Someday, we'll be together!"

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hydrangea Love

Having bemoaned the lack of hydrangea blooms this summer - and I have truly missed them!  - now comes the newest addition to the yard.
 June 30th.
A 'Vanilla Strawberry' hydrangea that I planted last fall, and frankly had not counted on its blooming this year. 
July 2nd.
Although it's a "panical" hydrangea and so new to me, it blooms on new wood and therefore escaped the last freeze of the winter that killed all the buds on the mopheads and lacecaps.  Even in its first year, it is blooming.  This variety typically grows 6-10 feet in height and diameter, so I put it where it can serve as a "barrier plant" between our yard and our neighbor's.
July 4th 
When fully mature, the panicals should open white and then "age" to darker shades of pink to strawberry - eventually producing a shrub full of multi-colored flowers. 

What's not to love about that?