Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunset Sunday

I can't believe that nearly a whole week has gone by without a post. I put all the blame on the weather and the air quality here in Greensboro. It is difficult to work up any enthusiasm to go out to the parks or lakes or downtown or wherever when the heat index is over 105F and the ozone level so high that it creates an orange haze in the air. Saturday night brought some rain and along with it the promise of slightly cooler weather and clearer air.

I took this snapshot over at Price Park's Bird and Butterfly Meadow. No butterflies were seen, but I did get some dreadfully blurry pictures of a Hairy Woodpecker above its nesting hole in a half-dead pine tree. The flowers are gone by and the meadow is full of seed pods and dried grasses. It will be a great place to go back and take some more good snapshots.

I'm doing this with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine as an ongoing series of sunset posts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crepe Myrtle "Sioux"

The only thing that is doing well in my small garden is the crepe myrtle. This particular variety is called Sioux, a tall narrow variety which works well in the corner of the garden.

The roses are doing alright, not terrific, but they are watered on a daily basis. I've given up on the daylilies for the summer. Even though they've been watered regularly, they've mostly given up the ghost. Maybe next year.

Even the Forest Pansy redbud is suffering. Probably a tenth of the leaves have turned red and fallen off and some of the branches are completely bare.

Will the heat ever end? Will fall ever come?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stunning Sunday Skies

Another standing in the parking lot and shooting blindly above my head since I'm using the little camera and I can't see anything on the digital display (which is why I like the big camera with the viewfinder).

We get these big puffy clouds at lunchtime, but by the afternoon they (and any promised rain) have completely dissipated, leaving us with an orange ozone haze and heavy, choking heat.

I was hoping for rain Saturday afternoon, but all we got was one clap of thunder and three drops of rain. Nothing on the horizon for next week either, just more heat.

I'm doing this in conjunction with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine. Wonder what the skies look like in Vancouver?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brown Turkey Fig

I bought this Brown Turkey fig tree three years ago out at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market where you can get all sorts of good things - organic fruits and vegetables, baked goods, flower bouquets, plants from local nurseries, etc., etc.

The first year I planted it in the small garden where it did so-so, but not well. That fall I transplanted it into a large container and moved it to the patio.

The second year (last summer) it just absolutely went into collapse by July. No figs had appeared and the leaves had turned yellow and fallen off. Nosing around some of my other blogs, I saw that other gardeners were having the same problem and Jane over at Small But Charming agreed with me that perhaps it was the extreme heat.

Generally I am impatient with my plants and if it doesn't do well two years running, it is out of the garden (or in this case, off the patio). For some reason I decided to give it a third year and see if it would produce any figs. And, much to my surprise, it did.

Now, the yellow and larger of these figs is the crop called the Breva or First crop. I'm told they aren't as tasty as the second (which are the smaller, green figs) and so I'm throwing them in the small garden near the chipmunks' hole for them to eat instead of chewing on my rose bushes (They do! I've seen them do it).

I'll let you know how the second crop fares.

I may be off-line for the next couple of days. With last weekend's day trip being a bust and the next few days being the hottest of the year (and maybe record-breaking) with an ozone haze that makes it next to impossible to take a decent snapshot, I may put off blogging until after the heat wave breaks next week. We'll see. Don't hold me to this; I can always change my mind.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Cat Who Went Out


I've always been more of a cat person than a dog person. I love dogs, but cats have always fit better in my lifestyle and personality than dogs.

And since I realized that cats are better off living indoors only, for the past thirty years they've always stayed inside. Even Smokey (gone six years now) who came to me as a semi-feral 4-month old kitten, never again asked to go out or even tried to sneak out an open door the entire 12 years he lived with me.

I now have three elderly cats - Miss Mouse, a tuxedo, who is 16 1/2  and Joe and Zoey, solid black cats, who turned 14 years old this month. They have always been strictly indoors, never once asking or trying to go out . . . until the past month.

I went out to take the garbage to the can on the patio and to my great surprise, Joe came outside with me. He's never shown any interest before and the one time I tried to take them outside (the patio is surrounded by a six-foot high privacy fence, so no chance of anyone wandering off), the hysterics were so great I thought someone would call the cops and report me for torturing animals.

Now, he wants to go out all the time. But as with all cats, it's out, in, out, in until I get tired of being the cat's butler and make him stay inside.

I wonder what brought on the change of heart about going outside after all these years?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Geranium on the Front Step

I bought the most unusual geranium from a local nursery. It is dark red with a nearly black center. I've not seen anything like it at any of our other nurseries here in Greensboro.

I've ignored it, forgotten to water it and yet it blooms and blooms despite our horrendous heat. This week we are looking at head indexes of close to 110F, high humidity and no rain in sight. Can you say "Climate Change?"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Giant Leopard Moth

I was walking through the parking lot at work when I noticed something on the curb that I first thought was a piece of paper with lettering on it. When I moved in closer to take a look, I saw that it was a moth - an enormous moth. Since I always carry a camera with me (in this case, I had the small Panasonic FP8), I took some quick snapshots and went home to look up this behemoth.

It turns out that this is a Giant Leopard Moth (or some parts of the South call it an Eyed Tiger Moth) which has a wing span of over three inches. It is only found on the east coast of the US and its caterpillar is one of the "Woolly Worm" types. Old-timers here in North Carolina believe you can predict the upcoming winter's snowstorms and cold by the bands on the wooly worm. We even have a Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk near Boone every fall.

Considering how this summer has been so far with 25 days over 90F and several days recently with heat indexes above 105F, my hope is just for a cooler fall much less a snowy winter.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunset Sunday

This week has been a wash as far as snapshots were concerned. Our temperatures soared into the high 90's with heat indexes close to 110F. The humidity was so high that it felt like you were stepping into a sauna everytime you walked out the door and that was not a good feeling.

With the air conditioning kaput in the car, I just stayed home after work instead of taking off to look for interesting pictures. Even when the weather cooled off, it still conspired against me. When I went to the mountains yesterday to take more barn quilt pictures, it started to pour rain and the fog got so bad that I was sure that I was going to be stuck on the top of the mountain for days. I came home yesterday afternoon snapshot-less.

This sunset is from last month when I chased the sunset from parking garage to church parking lot to abandoned housing development.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stunning Sunday Skies

When I went to the Bellemeade parking garage to take a picture for last week's Sunset Sunday, I got there long before the sun started to set.

So, I took a ton of shots of the clouds while I was waiting on the sun. Looks like I'm up in an airplane rather than on the top floor of a parking garage, doesn't it?

Here's hoping that Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine gets her computer fixed soon and is back blogging. I'd love to see her stunning skies over there in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

South Fork New River

But it wasn't all barn quilts, all the time along US 221. The South Fork New River is a huge draw for fly fishers -

And canoing -

And kayaking!

The North Fork New River and South Fork New River meet up just over the Virginia border to make the New River, which despite its name is considered the second oldest river in the world. And it is the only major river in North America to flow from south to north. It finally ends at the Ohio River between West Virginia and Ohio.

I wasn't thinking about taking a snapshot of the general store which sits right next to where all this was taking place on Saturday. Here's a link to their website: in case you have a hankering to come to the mountains of North Carolina to visit the New River.

We only stayed long enough to take a few pictures and then off to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Alleghany County Barn Quilts

But when we crossed over the county line into Alleghany County, I saw lots of barn quilts along US 221, but no website for information and names. Here they are and if anyone can name the pattern, please let me know.

(Actually I do know that is the Dutch Girl and Boy Quilt Pattern. Not one of my favorites)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Squares and Stars

Back to the mountains again - doing the opposite of what ever other North Carolinian was doing for the holiday weekend. While they were stuck in a mass exodus to the beaches, TB and I went back to the mountains where there was hardly any traffic.

And while I hadn't printed out the Ashe County Barn Quilt trail, we saw this one as we left Jefferson going north on US 221. This does have a name; it is called Squares and Stars. It was also an easy snapshot as the barn faced onto an elementary school driveway.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

The flag outside of my mother's independent living facility made for an appropriate snapshot for the holiday.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunset Sunday

Today is Sunset Sunday!

I decided that I needed to find a different place to take my sunset snapshot and had the brilliant idea to go downtown to one of our parking garages and take it from there.

I was really pleased with myself and figured that no one else would have the same wonderful idea until I got to the top level (there are eight levels in the Bellemeade parking garage) and found . . .

A professional photographer who was taking video of the wonderful clouds and sky to use in his portfolio, a dogwalker who had a tiny Chihuahua and a point-and-shoot camera, a walker who was using the top level to speed walk and two kids who were whooping and hollering and riding their skateboards up and down the ramps.

It was fun to talk to the professional photographer and get some tips on how to get better pictures, play a little with the Chihuahua, wave to the speed walker, and hold my breathe while the two kids did all sorts of acrobatic stunts and occasionally fell off their skateboards.

I guess my bright idea is shared by many other photographers, both professional and amateur according to the two who were up there with me. But it does make for a wonderful view.

I'm doing this as an ongoing project with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine. Unfortunately she has a computer motherboard issue, but I hope to have her back doing this with me in a couple of weeks or so. This was inspired by Scott Law over at Just Used Pixels.